The Signal Program

on Human Security and Technology

The Signal Program on Human Security and Technology (Signal Program) was founded by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative in 2012. The program works to advance the safe, ethical, and effective use of information technologies by communities of practice during humanitarian and human rights emergencies.

The program's ongoing research and scholarship
focuses on the following three areas:

Tools and Methods

Design and scientifically test tools and methods that remotely collect and analyze data about humanitarian emergencies

Standards and Ethics

Help lead the development of technical standards and professional ethics for the responsible use of technology to assist disaster-affected populations

Mass Atrocity Remote Sensing

Conduct retrospective analysis of satellite imagery and other related data to identify remotely observable forensic evidence of alleged mass atrocities

Imagery Interpretation Guide: Assessing Wind Disaster Damage to Structures

Agencies are increasingly using the analysis of drone and satellite imagery to conduct assessments of damage caused by wind disasters. While potentially valuable in the aftermath of a disaster, this work has been performed to date without a standard methodology specifically designed for this task. This gap in theory and practice may slow analysis, affect its accuracy, and reduce the potential actionability of these products for ground responders.

The Signal Program (Signal Program) on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) has developed the BAR methodology to help address this gap. The methodology provides a standard classification framework for types of structures and repeating patterns of damage to them.

The guide is aimed at institutional analysts, voluntary technical organizations (VTOs), and affected communities who may be utilizing geospatially-derived data to support ground operations in the initial phase of a wind disaster response. The foreword to the guide was written by Dr. Ray Shirkhodai, the Executive Director of the Pacific Disaster Center.


Imagery Analysis Manager, Signal Program on Human Security and Technology
Director, Signal Program on Human Security and Technology
Assistant Researcher, Signal Program on Human Security and Technology

Principal Investigator: Michael VanRooyen, MD, MPH