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Developed in a ‘bubble’, many apps for refugees duplicated existing well-used communication platforms. They didn’t take into account complex issues of trust, how information (+ rumors) spread, nor how rapidly the political and protection landscape changed. There was also demonstrated naivety around data protection and the political sensitivity related to information being shared.
"I definitely don’t want to disparage the motivations nor the commitments demonstrated by thousands of volunteers during in Europe. But, ‘tech-led solutions’ to complex challenges failed to solve the significant communication issues."
Katie Drew of the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) writes a much-needed piece about the many apps4good / tech4good efforts launched to help migrants that didn't last past their splashy launches. She also provides helpful advice for future efforts. Her advice is applicable to ANY hackathons / hacks4good that think a room full of IT folks can solve an issue faced by migrants, people experiencing homeless, women facing domestic violence, or any mission of a nonprofit or non-governmental organization.
-=-=-=-=-=- Jayne Cravens Author, The LAST Virtual Volunteering Guidebook
And let's hope these excellent guidelines are being followed at this event:
Humanitarian Hackathon15 - 16 January 2019 - Brussels
The Humanitarian Hackathon is an initiative of the Belgian Ministry for Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda and Telecommunications. The event is organised by the World Food Programme (WFP) and by Hack Belgium Labs.
In the context of the growing humanitarian needs and limited funding, innovative solutions are crucial to assist the most vulnerable groups in a more effective and efficient way. Close collaboration between humanitarian organizations, research institutes, civil society and the private sector is a prerequisite for boosting the use of state-of-the-art technologies for the benefit of those left furthest behind.
The Humanitarian Hackathon is a two-day event, taking place in Egmont Palace. It is designed to create technology-driven solutions for the most pressing humanitarian challenges. International and Belgian humanitarian organisations, donors, large companies, startups, scientists and engineers will be presented with 6 different challenges to choose from. Participation is free but application is mandatory.
The hackathon is open to participants and partners who have the skills and organisational capacity to create, deliver and/or fund innovative solutions, such as:
Tech Track teams will be focusing on developing prototypes using the latest technologies from the private sector. Such teams can be existing company tech teams or be formed on the spot by participants with design and technical skills.
Connect Track teams will explore how they can launch viable new projects to solve the challenges by combining expertise and resources from multiple stakeholders. Such team will be formed on the spot with participants bringing their diverse skills and experience to the table.
All teams will be supported by humanitarian experts from the WFP, other organisations and donors. Tech and Connect Tracks teams will be encouraged to engage each other for ideation or validation purposes.
The Six Challenges
More info and to sign up: Humanitarian Hackathon
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