Applied Technology for Humanitarian Action



P. Gregg Greenough, Director of Research, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

Jennifer Chan, Assistant Professor, Section of Emergency Medicine, University of Chicago Medical Center

Patrick Meier, Henry R. Luce PhD Candidate, Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University


This is a new working group that will be launched during the 2009 Humanitarian Action Summit. Check this page again for new information.



Lauren Bateman; Lars Bromley; David Campbell; Olivier Cottray; Sayon Dutta; Debarati Guha Sapir; Todd Hay; Robert Kirkpatrick; Sandra Krause; Suki McClatchey; Peter Morris; Altaf Musani; Gregg Nakano; Valerie Nkamgang Bemo; Ted Okada; Shivani Parmar; Lawrence Pixa; Liesbeth Renders; Claire Thwaites; Suha Ulgen; Firoz Verjee



Technology has revolutionized global communication networks empowering individuals and communities in even the most inaccessible of places. As the humanitarian community works toward improving coordination and collaboration to respond to an ever-growing number of humanitarian emergencies while seeking to improve evidence-based practice, the need for real time data acquisition, communication, and management for effective response is more acutely recognized. This calls for a more complex and facile platform of information management to which such communication tools as mobile telecommunications, satellite imaging and geographical systems are well suited. As these new technologies enter the humanitarian space they confront the everlasting challenge of balancing utility, efficiency, and feasibility among its multiple stakeholders, especially beneficiaries. The purpose of the new Applied Technology for Humanitarian Action working group is to better understand, practically, how to apply these technologies as vehicles to efficiently and effectively acquire, organize, analyze and use large amounts of diverse information so that timely and relevant actions can fulfill the goals of humanitarian action.



  • Discuss the use of applied technologies in humanitarian action with a focus on mobile technologies and geographic information systems (GIS) and their roles in field operations, multi-level decision making, and timely impact on humanitarian operations;
  • Examine the gaps between technology advances and field implementation and develop practical strategies to address those gaps;
  • Investigate the means by which efficient data communication management via mobile communications and geo-referenced data can lead to improved humanitarian outcomes and subsequent policy decisions;
  • Discuss the future potential applications of new information communication technologies and GIS platforms for humanitarian assistance;
  • Foster synergistic partnerships between academia, the NGO community, UN and government agencies, and developers of mobile technologies and geospatial platforms.