Ignite Talk: Akiko Harayama

This is a liveblog post from the International Conference on Crisis Mapping at Tufts University.  You can also follow tweets from the event’s many open laptops at the #ICCM10 hashtag.

Akiko Harayama of the UN takes the stage for an ignite talk.

Harayma’s goal is to link the humanitarian community with emergent technologies.  She explains that the humanitarian community has been around for a long time and has significant experience, but that the emergent technologies, which they may be skeptical of, are important for making work more efficient.

Harayama notes the importance of working together; she expresses the importance of looking at the disaster management cycle and establishing workflow, in order to respond more effectively.

She explains that, in a humanitarian crisis, what happens first is that someone at the national level requests assistance from the international community, but asks where the virtual community fits in.  She notes the importance of the virtual community plugging in to the traditional structure in order to work effectively.

She says that, in Haiti, the UN reached out to crowdsourcing communities to help get information on which hospitals were functioning and how many people were missing.  Even with technology, it was challenging.  She explains that there are limitations to working at the virtual level, and that it’s important to collaborate effectively with people on the ground.

Harayama concludes by saying that the virtual community can help best with data processing and cleaning, and providing technology, and explains that the existing humanitarian community has professional experience and networks, and asks the virtual community to “plug into the system” to ensure that their tools fit the needs of the community.

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