ICT and Protection: Can Information and Communication Technology Enhance Humanitarian Action?

Representing the ICT4Peace Foundation, I will be part of a panel organised by the Humanitarian Law and Policy Forum at Harvard University looking at how, if at all, ICTs have strengthened humanitarian aid. The guiding questions of this web based seminar echo concerns, challenges and opportunities I have repeatedly raised on this blog for years. Some of the more substantive posts, which have been quoted widely have been,

As noted on the website describing the web based seminar,

This Live Seminar will examine questions and challenges pertaining to the development, use and effects of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in humanitarian activities. Increasingly used by humanitarian professionals in situations of emergency, armed conflicts and disasters, ICT has emerged as a component of effective and sustainable delivery of humanitarian relief. Yet ICT remains relatively under-theorized and utilized differently across contexts. Against the background of the increased use of ICT in humanitarian activities, this Live Seminar will address the following questions:

  • How have technological innovations including crisis mapping, early warning, and crisis informatics shaped the roles and responsibilities of humanitarian professionals?
  • In what ways has ICT affected the selection, collection, and dissemination of conflict-related information?
  • What metrics are available to discern the scope and significance of ICT’s effects on coordinating humanitarian aid delivery?
  • How has ICT transformed institutions providing humanitarian relief?

These questions will be examined through critical inquiry into recent innovations in ICT, their application, and their (potential) consequences for humanitarian professionals.

Naz Modirzadeh (Senior Associate at the Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research) and Claude Bruderlein (Director of the Program) hosted the discussion.


  • Sanjana Hattotuwa, ICT4Peace Foundation
  • Salem Avan, United Nations
  • Olivier J. Cottray, iMMAP
  • Mark Dalton, ReliefWeb
  • Mike Hartnett, Global Relief Technologies, Inc.
  • Patrick Meier, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

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