We’re very pleased to announce the chosen topics for this year’s roundtables!
During the GeOnG forum, the roundtables are a perfect opportunity to discuss current or future stakes in the sector. The focus is on cross-cutting issues related to new technologies that impact the humanitarian and development fields, building upon the main theme selected for the event and allowing interactions between panel members, and between panel members and the audience during Q&A.
In 2020, we will be covering the following 9 topics - to read the full abstract of each session, see right below:
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Aren’t all aid workers “data people”? How to promote the right level of data literacy amongst your staff
Most practitioners of the humanitarian and development sector regularly work with data. Yet, they often do not consider themselves as “data people” that need to be trained and aware of the associated stakes. Organizations also struggle with assessing the right level of data literacy for their staff, given the diversity of backgrounds, profiles and responsibilities they have to deal with – from field workers to members of governing instances, and from non-technical teams to data officers.
In this session, we will address how to promote the right level of data literacy among aid organizations from a policy, practical and change management perspective looking at some key questions:
Data algorithms and inclusiveness: a myth or an achievable goal?
In the past decade, we have witnessed a growing use of data algorithms in the humanitarian and development sectors ranging from predictive analytics to beneficiary selection - a change with implications for field operations and when it comes to accountability, and which also raises a few ethical questions. This roundtable will aim to address the following aspects:
Panelists will introduce examples as well as the key lessons they have drawn from their own experience of dealing with data algorithms, outlining positive impacts and potential drawbacks, as well as sharing recommendations with the audience on when and how best to use them.
Data protection laws in context: how can they be at the service of vulnerable people’s rights?
In light of the fact that we, as humanitarian and development actors, mostly deal with very vulnerable people, we should consider the difference between compliance and ethics. Various data protection legal frameworks have recently come out, most notably the European GDPR, but they are not thought out, designed or meant specifically for field environments and for the very vulnerable people we deal with in the sector. During this roundtable, the panelists will therefore cover the following questions:
Panelists will introduce examples as well as the key lessons they have learned from their own experience of implementing such laws and related ethical standards, bringing different perspectives to the table.
How can you truly manage informed consent in practice?
Informed consent is the most widely used legal basis for data collection in the sector. However, it is difficult to obtain an “actual” informed consent in the field when people are placed in incredibly vulnerable situations, may be illiterate and/or digitally illiterate and when we know that language barriers (both in the linguistic and technical sense) are a real challenge.
From beneficiaries to participants: mapping as an engagement tool for communities
Participatory mapping is now commonly used by many humanitarian and development actors, who use it to gather data they could not get otherwise, get feedback from the beneficiaries of their projects, or complete their assessments with a different perspective.
However, participatory mapping is no longer “just” an additional data collection method: it can be a tool to get communities involved on projects, reinforce the capacities of the entire local ecosystem (NGOs, community organizations, local governments, etc.) and contribute globally to citizen engagement. New approaches are emerging that are complementary to existing and now widely used tools, such as OpenStreetMap.
How can we ensure these tools and methods join the toolbox of aid organizations to encourage beneficiary participation in their projects?
Promoting inclusiveness throughout the data cycle
Inclusiveness should not just be a general principle that looks nice on paper, but should be applied coherently in programs, which entails that it should be properly taken into account in associated data management practices.
This requires looking carefully at all the different steps of the data cycle and for each, considering what could be the implications of being inclusive, such as:
The role of language for data-driven humanitarian action
Language diversity, long underrated in humanitarian contexts, is emerging as an essential component of effective community engagement. Links between vulnerability, accountability, and language are increasingly recognized. Yet, data on the languages affected people speak and understand is largely unavailable to organizations to inform communication strategies. Language barriers further hamper organizations’ ability to understand people’s needs, capacities, and concerns and respond accordingly. Without accessible and reliable data, organizations default to potentially unsafe assumptions that hinder the effectiveness and reach of community engagement efforts.
With the aim of answering such questions, this session will bring together a diverse panel of organizations to share good practices developed and learning acquired on multilingual data collection and language data use. Drawing on experiences in a range of responses, including the COVID-19 response, they will explore the relevance of language for better data-driven humanitarian action. Following a round of presentations, participants will be invited to contribute with experiences and questions for an interactive conversation.
The more granular and local the data, the more useful? - Privacy vs. accuracy in GIS data visualizations
Within the domain of GIS and web map development, we should be careful not to accidentally release private or sensitive information about the populations of concern. For example, an innocent-looking point on a map may actually refer to an individual house, unintentionally revealing that the residents are irregular immigrants.
Fortunately, with the broad GIS technologies available today, we are able to aggregate and anonymize our data. Ranging from restricted zoom levels to artificial catchment areas, we have a range of solutions to address this problem.
What should aid actors focus on to make data collection processes and tools more child-friendly?
As humanitarian and development actors, we sometimes assume that because new generations better master new technologies, they are a good way to engage with children. Although it is true, they bring interesting opportunities to aid actors by offering other communication channels for children and teenagers to express their needs or give feedback on programs, reality is slightly more complicated than this. In fact, when implementing data processes, dealing with these age groups comes with its own challenges, and raises several concerns:
Panelists will introduce examples as well as the key lessons they have learned from their own experience of using new technologies in programs for children, outlining positive impacts and potential drawbacks, as well as sharing recommendations with the audience on when and how best to use them.
Mapping as support for remote monitoring in crisis areas: opportunities & constraints
Although remote mapping has been used successfully to improve the knowledge of humanitarian and development areas of intervention for years, the use of mapping for the actual monitoring of a situation is becoming crucial for NGOs and international organisations. This is caused by the fact that they are faced more and more with situations where they have little to no access to certain territories -due to security or sanitary constraints- and where therefore they often cannot even do field checks of the quality of data captured remotely. This roundtable will therefore explore different practical cases, focusing on what remote monitoring has to offer, how it can occur (through mapping, remote sensing or downgraded geolocated data collection for example), the type of sectors it works best for, as well as the necessary prerequisites for successful implementation.