Road To The Network Age #HINA

Humanity Road is in Geneva this week for the The United Nations Economic and Social Council ECOSOC Humanitarian Affairs Segment. On July 16, the United Nations will hold a special panel and launch of its Humanitarians in the Network Age”  #HINA report.   This report explores how new communications technologies are already changing the face of disaster response.  This pivotal report opens doorways to global communities through innovative technology and a fundamental shift in policy.

Humanitarianism in the Network Age” (HINA) examines the implications for how a world of increasingly informed, connected and self-reliant communities will affect the delivery of humanitarian aid. It lays out some of the most pertinent features of these new technologies, such as SMS, social media and others, and identifies the opportunities and difficulties in applying them.” says United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).

HINAThis report comes on the heels of five years of rapid industry growth for digital disaster response and technology solutions in disaster. It reminds me of a story about the painted roads my grandfather told me about growing up in Pennsylvania.  Many years ago footpaths blossomed into roads connecting communities which opened up travel and trade.  It empowered smaller communities to grow larger and gain more knowledge of their neighboring towns. 

 The second phase of growth involved paving the roads making them more resilient to support heavier traffic.  Heavy traffic and an inability to see where the road ended often caused accidents especially with pedestrians.  The idea to paint the lines on the sides of the roads gave pedestrians a right of way and a path to follow, and it provided a space for the newer vehicles to travel more safely.

The HINA report and other publications and initiatives in the past four years (see list below) provide us with the lines on the road to help our industry increase accuracy, collaborate more efficiently and improve performance. Through these reports, traditional organizations can study real life scenarios, lessons learned and recommendations on how to tap resources to accelerate their own technology solutions.  The research being performed on big data helps establish trends to optimize response or even implement disaster mitigation techniques to improve the disaster response model.

“To take advantage of the new information environment, aid agencies need to adapt in three ways.  They need to find ways to work with new data sources, to collaborate with a wider range of partners, and to understand that information in itself is a life-saving need for people in crisis.  It is as important as food and water” said a UN OCHA studies report published this month.  The UN has been doing just that.  When Typhoon Pablo struck the Philippines, UN OCHA reached out to the Digital Humanitarian Network for assistance and Humanity Road was tapped as part of the solution team for that effort.

Timeline of key digital initiatives and publications


2009 Jun – CrisisCommons is born when the first CrisisCamp is held in Washington DC

2009 Oct  ICCM Launches – attended by 100 Crisismappers


2010 Jan – Haiti: Earthquake – Ushahidi CrisisMap & Mission 4636 SMS

2010 Jan – Haiti: Humanity Road launches Digital Response & Realtime monitoring

2010 Sep – X24 DHS VizCenter First Disaster Response exercise in social media

2010 Nov – First UNOCHA Crisismap Exercise


2011 Jan – First StandBy Task Force activation

2011 Mar – First VOST – Virtual Operations Support Team formed

2011 Mar – 2.0 OCHA, United Nations and Vodaphone Report Launched

2011 Dec – Emergency 2.0 Wiki Launched by Australia


2012 Jan – DHS Publishes First Responders Community of Practice SM Strategy Report

2012 Mar – Red Cross launches Digital Operations Center

2012 April – Launch of the Digital Humanitarian Network

2012 Jul – First HA/DR Exercise at U.S. Navy RIMPAC explores crisismapping


2013 May – UN OCHA Humanitarians in the Network Age Launches

2013 Jun – DHS Virtual SM Working Group Launches Sandy Lessons Learned

Just as painting the road provided a framework for safe use by travelers, the United Nations and Department of Homeland Security publications are providing a framework to offer guidance to traditional and nontraditional aid agencies, as well as local, regional and national governments active in disaster response.  These guides will help us work together in a more effective manner to improve the disaster response model and save lives.

We congratulate ECOSOC on the launch of the HINA at its first Trade Fair.  Humanity Road was invited to participate through the Digital Humanitarian Network.  Christoph Dennenmoser (@Sahnetaeter) is representing Humanity Road at the Geneva event and will be at the panel talks which takes place tomorrow July 16, 2013,  8:15 local Geneva time (2:15 am Eastern time).

This week we are supporting a current disaster activation for the Digital Humanitarian Network with our member partners, MapAction and Humanitarian Open StreetMap Team for the creation of field maps in flood ravaged Uttarakhand, India.  Humanity Road has been at the forefront of this industry, acting as stewards of the commons and we are honored to be at #ECOSOC this week.  We commend all #AidInnovation members and are excited to see where the road takes us next.

Follow the hashtags #HINA #ECOSOC #Digihums and #AidInnovation to join the discussion. 

Humanity Road is committed to process improvement through #AidInnovation

Did you know that Humanity Road, is ..

Member of the FEMA Innovation Team

Member of the DHS Virtual Social Media Working Group

Member of Crisiscommons

Member of Crisismappers

Member of National Emergency Management Association

Member of Virginia Voluntary Agencies Active in Disaster

Member of Broward County Citizen Corps Council

Coordinator for Digital Humanitarian Network