In a world of accelerating change, the way we help and protect those in conflict-affected areas must regularly be altered and adapted. New technologies are continuously changing the way that humanitarian relief efforts are carried out and performed. From food-drop drones to crisis alert applications, the humanitarian aid system is adapting to the ongoing revolution occurring in the world of communications and technology.
Here is a round-up of all of the latest applications and systems being implemented into the humanitarian sector:
A geocoding system that provides precise coordinates and addresses using a grid of the world, made up of 57 trillion squares of 3 metres by 3 metres, What3Words is a simple and memorable way to communicate location. Each square is given a three-word English address (these have been translated into more than 12 different languages including Urdu & Farsi). So, using famous monuments around the world as examples, What3Words would give you locations such as: Buckingham Palace, the Taj Mahal, and the Eiffel Tower.
However, this really becomes a powerful tool for for the humanitarian aid sector, where rapid response in disaster-struck areas is a crucial factor. Managing aid and implementing strategies for action is already a challenge in the wake of a disaster – where entire communities have been destroyed – but this challenge only becomes greater when there is no reliable way to identify and share accurate locations.
What3Words provides users with a reliable, accurate and user-friendly location system, enabling field staff or relief workers to pinpoint their position. It provides efficiency in situations where time is of the essence.
The potency of What3Words has been acknowledged by those on the ground and humanitarian agencies and NGOs are partnering up with the system to save lives, including projects in South African townships, helping to secure clean water supplies in the devestation of Haiti’s 2016 hurricane as well as being used in a free UN crowd-sourcing app UN-Asign that is used to report on natural disasters and humanitarian crises.
2. My Plan
This mobile application educates women about domestic violence and abuse within relationships. My Plan takes women who are worried about abuse through a variety of questions about their respective circumstances and determines their level of safety based on these responses. In addition to this, the app offers appropriate courses of action and facilitates communication between the victim and local support networks.
3. No Food Waste
Did you know that roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year — approximately 1.3 billion tonnes— gets lost or wasted? And on average 815 million people go hungry every day.
A simple concept, the award-winning app enables users to donate excess food from, for example, restaurants, parties and schools and feeds on average 900 people a day. Donors simply have to input the information into the No Food Waste app, such as location and the amount of food. The food is then collected by a volunteer and delivered to a local hunger spot.
In West Africa, poor refrigeration and unsafe roads often lead to food being spoilt before it can get to market. Cheetah tackles this billion-dollar problem head on, and allows farmers, food transporters and traders to share valuable information, such as the fastest route to market and weather conditions. The app is currently being tested in Ghana.
Humanitarian work, though rewarding and fulfilling, is both physically and mentally taxing. Working in high-stress environments, and in such close proximity to human suffering can have many psychological consequences.
Headspace is a guided meditation app that helps users practice mindfulness. Through audio files, users are guided through individual meditation sessions to help relieve stress and anxiety. The app makes meditating accessible and can help aid workers recover following traumatic and stressful situations.
While these are all examples of technology that is supporting the humanitarian sector’s operations and efficiency and ultimately contributing towards making the world a better place, an app was recently in the headlines for making it easier for men to control women’s whereabouts in Saudia Arabia.
This app was designed for a range of government services, such as renewing driver’s licenses, passports and visas, and aims to streamline various government processes. However, the app has recently received criticism from various human rights groups for its promotion of male guardianship. Women in Saudi Arabia need to get permission to leave the country from a male guardian, usually a father or husband.
The Absher app makes the process of approving or prohibiting travel much easier, and it can be done via a smartphone. The male guardian receives a notification if a dependent woman attempts to travel/leave the country, and she can then be apprehended by authorities. As stated by the Human Rights Watch, “Apps like this one can facilitate human rights abuses, including discrimination against women.” However, as reported in Time, there are some users of the app who argue that “it’s a productivity tool that saves them hours of bureaucracy and ultimately makes travel easier for many Saudi women.” Will having the app removed help or further repress women? You can read one argument here.
6. CTG DOC App
Political unrest, terrorism as well as medical emergencies are some of the risks CTG staff face. Our years of experience supporting consultants in conflict-affected countries has led to us creating the CTG Duty of Care app (CTG DOC), a mobile travel insurance app that allows CTG consultants to manage their policy in real time, created in conjunction with Tangiers International. To keep staff safe, breaking regional safety and security alerts are sent straight to the mobile device. Staff can hit the panic button in an emergency, which connects to Tangiers International’s 24/7 hotline. The app also helps consultants find local medical providers and makes insurance claims simpler.
Through the app consultants can:
- Receive security alerts specific to your area
- Contact 24/7 global emergency assistance
- Search for a healthcare provider
- Instantly submit a claim – enabling payment within 48 hours
If you work for CTG and have a smartphone, download the app today by clicking on the icons below, or search for ‘CTG DOC’ app in the online stores.