Paper: Connectivity in Crisis: Articulating the risks from connectivity services in humanitarian crises

Paper details

Paper authors Matthew Downer, Zoe Hamilton
In panel on Governing digital risks in humanitarian action
Paper presenter(s) will be presenting In-Person / Online


Connectivity has profound implications during crisis. There is a growing understanding that connectivity is a foundational requirement for affected people and for effective humanitarian response. As such, this paper focuses on potential connectivity-related risks to crisis affected people.
The paper is an analysis of the humanitarian implications of connectivity, based on GSMA research. In particular, it provides an articulation and categorisation of humanitarian risk as it relates to connectivity status. For example, the analysis considers three primary states of connectivity and the implications for people affected by crises within each: being uncovered by a network, having lost connectivity during crisis, and have an available network. Within these connectivity states, each risk is linked to one or more of five risk types: protection, information ecosystem, humanitarian aid & coordination, self-reliance, and wellbeing.
The paper will also underscore that these risks should not diminish the right to be connected, and, at the same time, simply providing connectivity will not lead to a risk-free panacea. There is no risk-free approach to connectivity in crisis and humanitarians are right to be mindful of harm in an increasingly connected world. Importantly, risks stem from not connecting people, as much as connecting people introduces and exacerbates risk.