The humanitarian ‘digital divide’

Abstract

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Rapid technological change is affecting every aspect of society, including humanitarian action. The proliferation of technology-driven approaches to delivering and financing humanitarian action has the potential to transform, democratise and disrupt the current international system, and technology is often touted as a way of increasing inclusion in humanitarian action – both by reaching more people and by making aid more efficient. For many humanitarian actors on the ground and many people affected by crisis, however, it is not clear how significant a difference these advances have really made in increasing the coverage and inclusivity of humanitarian assistance. This panel invites papers looking at this ‘digital divide’ in humanitarian action – analysing whether technology enables assistance to reach more people more equitably and increase inclusion, or if it reinforces ingrained social biases and blind spots or only favours those able to access technology, and thus results in further exclusion. We are particularly interested in papers that deal with technology that is being used at scale or has had significant investment, with a view to assessing their impact on inclusion and coverage, rather than focusing on developing projects or pilots that have not yet been implemented. We are also keen to include perspectives on technology developed in or specifically adapted for crisis contexts and regions. We hope to stimulate discussions that aim to improve humanitarian practice and inform future engagement with technology-driven approaches.

Date(s) & Time(s)

November 4th, 2021
15:30 (GMT +1)
Room 24
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Organiser(s)

Kerrie Holloway, Barnaby Willitts-King

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