Tag Archives: technology

Technology in the Field: RapidFTR

22 Aug

I came across this little gem the other day, and thought I would share before the technology becomes obsolete, as technologies so quickly do. This piece was particularly striking to me, not only because it fits in nicely with a growing discussion of how technology will continue to shape the field of development and humanitarian relief in the coming years, but because the technology itself comes straight out of New York University.

While NYU Tisch always stands out in my mind as the training grounds for some of my favorite musicians and filmmakers, it is clearly also home to innovators for the humanitarian world. Former NYU Master’s student Jorge Just used his thesis in Tisch’s Interactive Telecommunications Program as an opportunity to expand upon the new RapidFTR app, designed collectively in NYU’s “Design for UNICEF” class and developed by Mr. Just over three years.

The RapidFTR (Rapid Family Tracing and Reunification) app is a “versatile open-source mobile phone application and data storage system” that can be used by humanitarian workers to “collect, sort and share information about unaccompanied and separated children in emergency situations so they can be registered for care services and reunited with their families.” By taking pictures, collecting sufficient data on the child and then being able to quickly share this information, the app allows for expedited reunification between children and families following displacement. It has been able to reduce the time necessary to register information about separated children from more than six weeks to a matter of hours.

The technology is being further developed and implemented by the Child Protection in Emergencies team at UNICEF with funding from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (go ahead, drool over their incredible projects for a bit). You can read more about how RapidFTR is being used by the Ugandan Red Cross to reunite Congolese refugee children with their families here, or keep an eye on further progress on RapidFTR’s blog. Just another amazing way that mobile technology is being used to shape the future of the field and the futures of children all over the world.

So the question now is: what app are YOU going to design, and how many lives will it change for the better? If you’re tech savvy, I say it’s time to rise to the challenge.

Week-e-Links

16 Aug

As the world’s eyes are glued to the rapidly deteriorating situation in Egypt, a few other bits of HREC-worthy news and stories caught my eye. Enjoy, share, discuss:

1) International Education M.A. Alumni share their stories

Because this blog is also dedicated to sharing the stories, struggles and successes of members of our graduate cohort as we emerge into the field of education, I would like to commend those who were featured in NYU Steinhardt’s M.A. Alumni profile section (including HREC’s own Alice Jacques and attendees of the Human Rights and Education Colloquium!). You can read interviews with each alum, detailing their favorite aspects about their new positions as well as what they liked about their recent International Education graduate degree program.

2) INEE Conflict Sensitive Education Pack

This week, the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) launched the highly anticipated Conflict Sensitive Education Pack. According to INEE, “conflict sensitive education refers to the design and delivery of education programs and policies in a way that considers the conflict context and aims to minimize the negative impact (contribution to conflict) and maximize positive impact (contribution to peace).” The CSE pack thus supports the integration of conflict sensitivity in education policies and programs with several tools, including: INEE’s Guidance Note on Conflict Sensitive Education; a Reflection Tool for designing and implementing conflict sensitive education programmes in conflict-affected and fragile contexts; Guiding Principles on integrating conflict sensitivity in education policy and programming; and a number of additional resources. FHI 360 and Save the Children co-hosted the Launch with INEE this Tuesday in Washington D.C. For those who missed out, you can watch the stream of the event.

You can find and download the full CSE Pack on INEE’s Toolkit here.

3) The humanitarian situation in Darfur

While eyes have been turned (justifiably) to the worsening humanitarian crisis in Syria and the surrounding region, the humanitarian situation in the Darfur region of Sudan is the worst it has been in years, with over 300,000 people fleeing their homes in 2013 alone and 3.2 million Sudanese in need of humanitarian assistance. Over the past decade, over 2.3 million people have been displaced by ongoing violence, which in recent years has been fueled primarily by disputes over grazing land and gold-mining. The Sudanese government in Khartoum is both unable and ostensibly unwilling to assist those in Darfur, placing the responsibility to protect (let’s not jump into an R2P debate just yet…) squarely in the hands of the international community, who remains drastically underfunded for the endeavor. Virtually all international NGO staff and aid workers have left Darfur. This deteriorating situation reminds me of the myriad challenges facing the humanitarian community to provide assistance to those in need. When states effectively dismantle international peacekeeping and humanitarian efforts, assistance becomes impossible. I am curious to see whether the same sort of “smuggled aid” that found its way into Syria last year has taken any sort of foothold in Sudan. My guess is no, but does anyone happen to know of other efforts being made to undercut the traditional avenues of assistance provision to help the people of Darfur?

4) How technology is transforming emergency preparedness

In their “Humanitarian Futures” series, OCHA’s IRIN has been producing some great pieces exploring anticipated changes in the aid world likely to unfold over the next decade. This week, IRIN looks at how technology is transforming emergency preparedness around the world. The piece explores how mobile phone technology, geographic information systems (GIS), and other technologies like Twitter are being used to provide early warning systems and routine monitoring in the face of crises. When I began my work in Tanzania as recently as 2009, it seemed that the idea of mobile banking was only in its very nascent stages. When I returned to Uganda just a year later, it seemed that mobile banking, mobile transfers and mass communication systems were burgeoning at a remarkable rate. I am quite interested to see how these technologies continue to be improved and expanded to benefit the largest number of people possible. I like to think the future looks quite bright!

5) Area 51 officially acknowledged

I’m hoping that before long, the Human Rights & Education Collaborative will have to evolve into the Human/Extraterrestrial Rights & Education Collaborative – HEREC…nice ring to it don’t you think?