Tag Archives: IIHA Innovation

Humanitarian Blockchain Summit: Joining Together to Shape the Future of Blockchain For Humanity

November 16, 2017, New York City  —  Blockchain technology is already driving innovation in the finance and public sectors globally. Now humanitarian and technology leaders are exploring how the technology could revolutionize humanitarian response to global complex emergencies.

This transformation was explored at the Humanitarian Blockchain Summit on November 10 hosted by the Institute of International Humanitarian Affairs at Fordham University in partnership with the Centre for Innovation at Leiden University, Center of International Humanitarian Cooperation, University of Northampton, United Nations Office of Information and Communications Technology, and Civic Hall.

More than 250 humanitarian workers, United Nations officials, governmental and public sector representatives, technology experts, and academics convened at the Summit to explore the vast potential of blockchain technology and grapple with the challenges.

Blockchain — a distributed ledger technology —  could be used to solve those challenges, such as storing identification, educational and professional qualifications of displaced persons; implementing direct cash transfer programs via cryptocurrencies; or managing contracts for migrant workers.

“Blockchain can have a role in not only serving the people endangered in these crises, perhaps in refugee camps or disaster response, but also in finding new ways that allow people to be more self-reliant, long term humanitarian projects to be more inclusive, and protection to be more central to long term humanitarian response.

As always the interest of humanitarians must go beyond the financial and fulfil the ultimate humanitarian principle of do no harm. The most essential objective we believe is to ensure transparency, data protection, and participation of beneficiaries by utilizing the blockchain through facilitating user centered design and ensuring their autonomy in the process,” said Brendan Cahill, IIHA Executive Director.

Through panels, speeches, breakout sessions, and workshops attendees discussed topics such as humanitarian financing, ethical frameworks, smart contracts, gender empowerment, and sustainable development goals (SDGs) in relation to blockchain technology.

Rahul Chandran, Director of the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation, closed the Summit with three practical actions for humanitarians and technologists:

  • Put the good energy of the Summit to use by applying the technology to concrete real world problems;
  • Manage risks by having upfront conversations about ethics and governance; and
  • Ground change and impact in evidence and open ourselves up to scrutiny.

“We need collective effort and that does not just happen spontaneously. It takes the private sector, blockchain companies, coming to governments and actually saying we want standards, we want ethical codes…It takes an exchange of ideas, because we’re still so early in this process,” said Chandran who encouraged participants to continue engagement on the subject.

Following the Blockchain Summit, the IIHA is launching the Blockchain for Humanity Initiative alongside the Centre for Innovation at Leiden University, University of Northampton, and University of Groningen. The Blockchain for Humanity Initiative will provide ongoing actions for further discussion and engagement with like-minded institutions and practitioners concerning the application of blockchain technology for humanitarian action.

The first opportunities for engagement include:

The Humanitarian Blockchain Summit was made possible with the generous support of  Fordham Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Consensys and Centre for Citizenship, Enterprise and Governance.

Photos from the Humanitarian Blockchain Summit

Humanitarian Blockchain Summit

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Featured Humanitarian Open Tool: Bamboo House

Bamboo HouseThe research conducted in advance and throughout the development of the CSEB / Bamboo House Prototype seeks to develop improvements to earthen architecture practices with a focus on shelter disaster risk reduction in areas that are subject to an array of water related concerns. The work aims to investigate the efficiency of earthen solutions exploring the opportunity to use earth appropriately within low-income housing and offering construction improvements. The intention is not to provide new alternatives but offer low-cost improvements based on successful existing practices that can be adopted by individuals and families with limited assets. Learn more about the CSEB / Bamboo Prototype and view the Report!

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Humanitarian Innovation Corner – October 2016

Autumn is ripe with opportunities and news for the humanitarian innovation world! This October, IIHA Innovation and High Tech Humanitarians (HTH) attended the European Maker Faire event in Rome, where makers, innovators and social changers from all over the Old Continent met to show their best projects. It was an excellent opportunity to meet with current and future partners, and explore the potential for more collaboration with sectors such as fabrication, eHealth, and Biomedical tech. While we can’t announce all the projects planned for 2017 just yet, we can start mentioning our support to the start up phase of Prosper, a broad initiative aimed at centralizing refugee crisis initiatives. Stay tuned to learn more!

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Featured Humanitarian Open Tool: Light from Stoves

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One of the most promising methods for generating light from stoves is through thermoelectric power generation. A prototype generator has been developed that produces approximately five watts of power, and is projected to cost around $30 in large quantity. An in-depth analysis was performed on each component to maximize the system efficiency and reduce cost. The selection process for the thermoelectric module, the heating and cooling fins, and the fan is outlined in detail. Computational and analytical models have been developed to predict the performance of the components individually, and as a system. Initial testing and calculations show that the thermoelectric generator is a feasible and relatively cheap solution to a large problem. Some portable models have also proven to be effective when installed on improved home cookstoves, or rocket stoves.

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Humanitarian Innovation Corner – June 2016

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IIHA Innovation was present at the Innovation Marketplace of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), to participate as founding members in the launch of the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation (GAHI) and to witness the opening of the Global Humanitarian Lab (GHL).

After several delays, the humanitarian community is finally going big on innovation: GAHI is more focused on developing consistent and more effective policies and standards for improving humanitarian action, innovating humanitarian technologies in a systematic way; the Global Humanitarian Lab (GHL) is more concentrated on unleashing innovation worldwide, creating a global network of makers and innovators that could produce local humanitarian tools and solutions that could be used to facilitate responses by humanitarian actors. IIHA, through its own Innovation initiatives, will be an active member of the GAHI, while exploring potential cooperation with the GHL for the future.

In the aftermath of the WHS, IIHA was invited by the IPI to take part in a Q&A on the takeaways form the summit, and featured a contribution by the Institute’s very own Humanitarian Innovation Fellow, Giulio Coppi, on the IIHA blog, which includes more in-depth analysis on some measures proposed in Istanbul, and their complicated application to conflict-related situations. More recently, IIHA Innovation was also selected to present its activities and projects including the High Tech Humanitarians (HTH) initiative during the Humanitarian Technology Conference in Boston, where, alongside representatives from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, OCHA and Microsoft, Giulio took part as a plenary speaker in a session dedicated to the post-WHS humanitarian innovation landscape.

The next events for IIHA Innovation include the plenary session of the 2016 Academic Council of the United Nations System (ACUNS) Annual Meeting in New York, and a special session at the International Diploma in Humanitarian Assistance (IDHA) dedicated to the importance of humanitarian technology, that will take place on the 27th of June in cooperation with the American Red Cross and the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

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Humanitarian Innovation Fellow Giulio Coppi interviewed by IPI Global Observatory

Fordham University IIHA Humanitarian Innovation Fellow and High Tech Humanitarians Founder Giulio Coppi provides some insight on innovation discussions and outcomes at the World Humanitarian Summit in a recent interview with the International Peace Institute Global Observatory.

 

How Can Humanitarians Embrace Innovation?: Q&A with Giulio Coppi

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