Lessons from Haiti

Posted by MelissaUlbricht on Jan 11, 2011

A new report from the Knight Foundation analyzes how new technologies were used to aid in the recovery of the earthquake in Haiti. The report -- Media, Information Systems and Communities: Lessons from Haiti -- suggests that the events mark "the beginning of a new culture in disaster relief" in which new and hybrid technologies, including mobile phones, are used to support rescue and relief efforts.

The report mentions a numnber of uses of mobile technology, including:

  • Interactive maps and SMS helped search-and-rescue teams find people in need of supplies
  • SMS messages broadcast critical information to Haitians
  • Hybrid approaches in which mobile technology was used in conjunction with radio

The authors have three main observations:

  1. Traditional humanitarian organizations were often open to the new technologies, but remain nervous about the implications of information (and powersharing) through crowdsourcing and other new media platforms.
  2. Joint humanitarian communities demonstrated that there were potentially beneficial ways to use digital media in the crisis setting, particularly texting functions.
  3. Although much of the attention has been paid to new media technologies, radio was the most effective tool for serving the needs of the public. The first media priority in Haiti was to restore radio service.

While innovations have varying levels of impact, the report showcases the potential for new and mobile-based technologies in future crises. Check out the report for more, including a list of recommendations for the technology and media development sectors.  For a critique of humanitarian crowdsourding in emergencies by an experienced relief worker, you might also want to check out Paul Currion's article.

Lessons from Haiti Report

Lessons from Haiti data sheet 3058 Views
Global Regions:
Countries: Haiti

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