Monday, September 17, 2012

Technology Lessons From Disasters in Underdeveloped Countries

This past Friday, September 14, 2012, the Wilson Center hosted a series of talks packaged as, "Connecting Grassroots to Government for Disaster Management: A Policy Roundtable."  The keynote presentation of the effort was, "Connecting Grassroots to Government through Open Innovation."  On this topic, the featured speakers were Chistopher Fabian, Co-Lead, Innovation Lab, UNICEF and Nigel Snoad, Product Manager, Crisis Response, Google, as moderated by Gisli Olafson, Emergency Response Director, NetHope. From comments initially offered by Mr. Fabian, these gentlemen drove home the idea of five guiding principles for the development of technology to support disaster responses in underdeveloped countries.  Those principles are:
  1. Technology must be user-centric - products need to be built hand-in-hand with users, where they live,
  2. Technology must be scalable - products must allow for local follow-on development in the location where it was deployed,
  3. Developers must be prepared to fail - technology development in this realm is really hard to do - be prepared to fail often, quickly, and openly,  
  4. Technology has to be Open Source - so that it can be freely shared and have value added by others, and 
  5. Development must be done in an environment of collaboration - no one group has the money or brains to solve every problem, therefore collaboration is key.
In total, comments offered by these gentleman lasted just over an hour.  If you would like to hear their comments in full, use the link below, starting at the 3:37:50 point of the video. 

Comment: Classic statement in the mix of a series of thought provoking comments - "Nothing that is developed at headquarters ever works in the field."  Ha!  These gentlemen are down in the trenches making technology work to reduce suffering and save lives on a grand scale.  An hour of their thoughts, would be worth many years of hard knocks to you - even if you live in a "developed" country.

No comments:

Post a Comment