crisis information management

The Role of Crowdsourcing for Better Governance in Fragile State Contexts

Title: The Role of Crowdsourcing for Better Governance in Fragile State Contexts
Authors: Maja Bott, Björn-Sören Gigler and Gregor Young
Pages: 45 pp.
Source: Open Development Technology Alliance
Publisher: The World Bank
Date (published): 13/12/2011
Date (accessed): 15/12/2011
Type of information: draft
Language: English
On-line access: yes (pdf)
"Presently ubiquitous, the term ‘crowdsourcing’ was first coined by Jeff Howe in a 2006 issue of Wired magazine. In reference to the global technology industry, Howe defined crowdsourcing as “the act of taking a job traditionally performed by a designated agent (usually an employee) and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people in the form of an open call.” He states; “Technological advances in everything from product design software to digital video cameras are breaking down the cost barriers that once separated amateurs from professionals. Hobbyists, part-timers, and dabblers suddenly have a market for their efforts, as smart companies in industries as disparate as pharmaceuticals and television discover ways to tap the latent talent of the crowd. The labor isn’t always free, but it costs a lot less than paying traditional employees. It’s not outsourcing; it’s crowdsourcing.” Reliant on actionable information provided by the appropriate ‘crowd,’ which itself is indentified through a self-selecting mechanism; crowdsourcing is a collaborative exercise which enables a community to form and to produce something together. Expanding the concept to include not only data collection or product design, but cultivation of public consensus to address governance issues, strengthen communities, empower marginalized groups, and foster civic participation, is at the heart of the new crowdsourcing movement.

This paper, produced for the World Bank Group, is meant to serve as a primer on crowdsourcing as an informational resource for development, crisis response, and post-conflict recovery, with a specific focus on governance in fragile states. Inherent in the theoretical approach is that broader, unencumbered participation in governance is an objectively positive and democratic aim, and that governments’ accountability to its citizens can be increased and poor-performance corrected, through openness and empowerment of citizens. Whether for tracking flows of aid, reporting on poor government performance, or helping to organize grassroots movements, crowdsourcing has potential to change the reality of civic participation in many developing countries. The objective of this paper is to outline the theoretical justifications, key features and governance structures of crowdsourcing systems, and examine several cases in which crowdsourcing has been applied to complex issues in the developing world."

Intelligence, trusted networks and double standards

Title: Intelligence, trusted networks and double standards
Author: Anahi Ayala Iacucci
Source: Diary of a Crisis Mapper blog
Date (published): 05/12/2011
Date (accessed): 14/12/2011
Type of information: blog post
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
"One of thing that I found very useful when working on information systems in emergency situations, is to create privileged communication channels with the different actors by relying on trusted networks already present in the country or in between the humanitarian community.

For example in the case of Libya, we created 2 platforms that had 2 different types of information and therefore two different goals and targets. The private platform was to mainly inform the humanitarians about the situation on the ground, and had details and sources to make sure they could verify and do an evaluation of the reliability of the source (ultimately this evaluation was left to them, even if we did a preliminary verification of the information collected). The second platform, the public one, was for the general public to know what was going on in the country, and had no sources and no detailed information in it.

This is, I think, a very good example of the creation of different communication channels and different targets. The idea here is to understand the difference and to make decision based on the risks assessment and the possible outcomes."

Big data, small wars, local insights: Designing for development with conflict-affected communities

Title: Big data, small wars, local insights: Designing for development with conflict-affected communities
Authors: David Kilcullen and Alexa Courtney
Source: What Matters
Publisher: McKinsey & Company
Date (published): 02/12/2011
Date (accessed): 09/12/2011
Type of information: article
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML)
"Of all the ills that impede development around the world, persistent conflict may be the most pernicious and the most widespread. As the World Bank noted in its April 2011 report, insecurity “has become a primary development challenge of our time. One-and-a-half billion people live in areas affected by fragility, conflict, or large-scale, organized criminal violence, and no low-income fragile or conflict-affected country has yet achieved a single United Nations Millennium Development Goal.”

We believe that work in these difficult regions requires a new approach, which we call Designing for Development. The approach combines several elements. First, to create a deep understanding of the issue to be addressed, it calls for quantitative, remote observation and analysis, using new tools, such as big data, crowd-sourced reporting, and interactive visualization. To build a deep contextual understanding, it also requires on-the-ground observation and research, preferably carried out and directed by well-trained members of the local community. Finally, the big data and local insight must be integrated and used to shape a solution with the help of design thinking..."

Peacebuilding in the Information Age: Sifting Hype from Reality

Title: Peacebuilding in the Information Age: Sifting Hype from Reality
Editors: Daniel Stauffacher, Barbara Weekes, Urs Gasser, Colin Maclay, Michael Best
Pages: 48 pp.
Publisher: ICT4Peace Foundation
Date (published): 10/01/2011
Date (accessed): 14/01/2011
Type of information: report
Language: English
On-line access: yes (HTML + pdf)
"Going beyond the current debate and positive hype about ICTs, this paper probes difficult questions and provides concrete recommendations concerning:

* the effectiveness of current systems of crisis information management;
* the need for a comprehensive assessment of the effectiveness of the use of ICTs in crisis response by the academic community;
* the need for better coordinative mechanisms amongst the key players, including the UN and its various agencies;
* the humanitarian responsibility of various actors, in particular new players such as crowdsourcing providers and social media;
* the serious challenges that still need to be overcome in terms of underlying political, hierarchical and traditional resistance to information-sharing amongst diverse organizations;
* the negative potential of ICTs in compromising the security of persons at risk in conflict situations;
* the lessons learned from the earthquake in Haiti on the use of new ICTs in disaster response situations and,
* the big picture of what this shift to an ICT-focused approach really means for existing humanitarian response systems."

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