Welcome from Honorary Chair
Often, our first contact with a humanitarian crisis is through dramatic media coverage. This is true for local as well as global disasters, whether attributable to the forces of nature, accidents or malicious intent. When faced with these graphic depictions of human tragedy and destruction, a very human and simple reaction is to ask ourselves: what can we do to help? In simple terms, this conference is asking the same question. What is it that we can bring to the table to help? How can we mobilise the very best in social and technological innovation, from all sources, to reduce the impact and devastation on lives and livelihoods of our global communities While humanity is at its very best and visible during response phases the focus of this conference is to shine a light on the less visible social and technological innovation challenges both before a direct crisis response is needed (mitigation) and after the last response agencies have departed the scene (long term recovery). Consideration of this end to end approach, that encompasses a pre-event, event and post event continuum, is a necessary enabler to developing alert and resilient communities. This notion of resiliency plays out at all scales, local to global and demands we work across boundaries whether geopolitical, governance, socio-economical or technological.
Within this context, it’s a privilege to welcome you, as honorary chair, to the 2015 IEEE Canadian International Humanitarian Conference. I trust you will learn a great deal from each other through meaningful discussions and networking opportunities, I am also confident that through your expertise, passion and innovative thinking, we will find solutions to what is fundamentally a very human need: to help and to be helped when things go bad.
Mark A. Williamson
Honorary Chair, IHTC2015
Welcome from General Chair
Welcome to the International Humanitarian Technology Conference 2015 (IHTC 2015). This is the second conference of its kind to be held in Canada. This conference series aims to be a yearly meeting point where individuals and organizations interested in exploring how technology, and in particular creative, low cost and open-source technology solutions can be used to address some of the most pressing needs in delivering effective humanitarian aid and sustainable development.
Many individuals in technical fields aspire to make the world a better place through the results of their creativity and effort applied to humanitarian contexts. However, no technology can be applied in the contexts of humanitarian aid and sustainable development without a thorough understanding of the social, cultural, political, economic and geographic context in which a particular technology is expected to have impact. The developing world cannot be seen as a playground for good intentions. Human lives and human consequences are at stake. The unintended consequences of fielding technologies without situating them in the context of the recipient community can be ineffective and at worst damaging.
Successful technologies, in particular in a sustainable development context are those that have been well socialized within the recipient community. The community embraces them, and takes ownership of them into the long term, so that benefits are measurable and sustained. As a consequence, technology providers, recipient community members and organizations working in the areas of humanitarian aid and sustainable development need to work together to ensure that candidate technologies are made known, evaluated, and introduced in ways that ensure maximum long-term benefits for the intended recipients.
IHTC 2015 is not merely a showcase of technologies with potential application in the developing world. It focuses on bringing together technology providers with organizations and individuals working in the fields of humanitarian aid and sustainable development. The aim is fostering community engagement, dialogue, mutual learning and understanding around the role and successful application of technologies aimed at improving the lives of many.
General Chair, IHTC2015