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At this year’s Kofi Annan Global Humanitarian Forum in Geneva, Chairman of the ICT4Peace Foundation Daniel Stauffacher was invited to make a presentation on New Media and Humanitarian Aid on 23 June 2009 in a panel entitled New Media. He shared this panel with

  • Nitin Desai, Member, Prime Minister’s Council on Climate Change, India and Special Adviser to the UN for the World Summit on an Information Society
  • Wijayananda Jayaweera, Director, Communication Development Division, UNESCO
  • Don Tapscott, Author, Wikinomics; Chairman, nGenera Insight
  • Bill McKibben, Co-Founder and Director, 350.org
  • Florence Nibart-Devouard, Member, Advisory Board, Wikimedia Foundation; Chair, Wikimedia (2006-2008)

The panel was structured on the following framework, with speakers asked to deliver a 5 minute presentation on:

The humanitarian benefits of latest developments in internet technology and telecommunications are only beginning to be recognized. Hurricane Katrina and other emergencies have demonstrated how the user-defined online encyclopedia, Wikipedia, can act as an unparalleled source of upto-date information on such disasters. While portable phones with imagery devices offer the ability to discretely document atrocities and emergency situations. How will the role of such technologies expand over time? And how can the humanitarian system take better advantage of their benefits?

Daniel Stauffacher described how new media sources are changing the way we prevent, know about and respond to crises. His examples included how mobiles and SMS can help in aid delivery, logistics, accountability, or a layer on Darfur by Google Earth helped galvanise civil society and policy makers to react to an on-going crises. He showed how a Wikipedia entry on the terrorist attack on Mumbai was the first and best source of information in the first 24 hours on a crises, or how citizens bore witness to a popular, non-violent uprisings through mobiles, the Internet and web. He however also cautioned that these tools sometimes have risks of their own, and that only a combination of new media, traditional media, and appropriate information management makes for good situational awareness in crisis situation. To demonstrate this, the ICT4Peace Foundation is inter alia working with the UN in New York and Ushahidi.com a crowd-sourcing technology platform, using mobiles and Google Maps.

To download the presentation, please click here.

For full programme and details of the panel from the GHF website, please click here.

To view the submissions made by Daniel Stauffacher, Chairman of the Foundation, at the panel discussion on ICT4Peace, please click here.