Latest Event Updates

14. Digital Aid: Biometric Identity Management and Electronic Cash Transfer

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Presenters: Mr. Doug Greene, CIO, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR); Mr. Jakob Kern, CIO & ETC Chair, UN WFP; Ms. Alexa Swift, Regional Economic Opportunities Advisor for the Middle East, Mercy Corps; Mr. Jeremy Cole, Director, Red Rose

Thursday, 30 April 2015, 09:40-10:40, 11:20-11:5013_Panel_IMG_3435

The increasing use of cash transfer programming in humanitarian assistance has spawned the use of new technologies to capture beneficiary identities and to deliver entitlements via digital means. The session presented what two United Nations entities – the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) – are doing in this area, as well as recent learning in electronic cash transfers for humanitarian assistance presented by Mercy Corps, summarizing how the Electronic Cash Transfer Learning Action Network (elan) plans to support field teams, and the experience of Red Rose, an SME specialized in developing electronic cash transfer products for the humanitarian sector. The presentations were followed by a panel discussion.


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Mr. Doug Greene, CIO, UN Office of the High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)13_Digital Aid Biometric Identity Management and Cash_photo_Doug Greene

Mr. Doug Greene was appointed Director and Chief Information Officer of UNHCR as of 6 January 2014. Mr. Greene brings nearly 30 years of professional experience in the not-for-profit, public and private sectors, including 20 years in Information Technology (IT) leading and managing large-scale, global Information Technology operations.  In addition, Greene has over 15 years of international experience, working for the United States Peace Corps, Catholic Relief Services, and the American Red Cross.

Before joining UNHCR, Mr. Greene was Vice President of Enterprise Technology at the American Red Cross, where he oversaw the organization’s technical planning, enterprise architecture, strategic sourcing, contract management and infrastructure operations from 2009-2013.  Prior to the Red Cross, Mr. Greene was the Director of Business Systems and Deputy Chief Information Officer for Northrop Grumman’s Information Technology Sector from 2001–2009. From 1996-2001, Mr. Greene served at the Peace Corps as the Associate Director for Management and Chief Information Officer in Washington, D.C., Country Director in Vanuatu, and as an agriculture volunteer in the Marshall Islands in the early 1980s. Mr. Greene held several positions with Catholic Relief Services between 1988-1996, including Deputy Director of the Office of Program Resources Management, Country Representative in Cameroon and Haiti, Project Manager in the Office of Information Systems in Baltimore, and Regional Computer Coordinator for Southeast Asia.

Mr. Greene earned his bachelor’s degree in History with honors from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and holds a master’s degree in International Development Management from American University’s School of International Service in Washington, D.C.  In addition, he received his Chief Information Officer Certificate from the Information Resources Management College at the National Defense University, Washington, DC, a Certificate in Management from the Darden Graduate School of Business at the University of Virginia, and graduated from the Leadership Development Program at Babson College & Harvard Business School.

Mr. Jakob Kern, CIO & ETC Chair, UN WFP

13_Digital Aid Biometric Identity Management and Cash_photo_Jakob KernJakob Kern is the Chief Information Officer and Director of Information Technologies at the United Nations World Food Programme. He is responsible for the overall IT strategy, operations, processes and more than 425 IT staff of the world’s largest humanitarian agency fighting hunger globally. He has further responsibility for supporting the organisation’s Change Process within the development of the strategic framework and priorities of the Division, and is advising the Executive Director on all IT related matters.

Jakob is currently the Chair of the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster of the United Nations (ETC) and the Management Committee of the United Nations International Computing Center (ICC), the common data centre of 30 UN Agencies based in Geneva.

Jakob joined WFP in 1998 in Monrovia, Liberia as Head of one of the largest Special Operation projects consisting of 200 km of emergency road repairs in a post war environment to facilitate food distribution to refugees. He then moved on as Emergency Coordinator and Programme Advisor in Asmara, Eritrea where he was responsible for two large-scale emergency operations. He was WFP Deputy Country Director in North Korea and prior to becoming CIO in February 2012, was the Deputy Chief Information Officer at WFP since 2006, where he managed all seven branches of the Division and provided leadership to the development of global IT innovative strategies and programmes to enhance efficiency through IT applications.

Before joining the World Food Programme, Jakob worked as a consultant and project manager for several companies, where he was responsible for global engineering projects throughout Africa and Asia. Jakob received a Masters in Civil Engineering from ETH Zurich, Switzerland. He is married and has two young boys.

Ms. Alexa Swift, Regional Economic Opportunities Advisor for the Middle East, 13_Digital Aid Biometric Identity Management and Cash_photo_Alexa Swift
Mercy Corps

Alexa is the Middle East Regional Economic Opportunities Advisor for the Syria Response with Mercy Corps.

She has worked in the region since 2013 supporting program teams both in Syria and the refugee receiving countries to increase their use of market based approaches, particularly cash transfer programming. Prior to that she worked in East Africa on cash and early recovery programming.

Mr. Jeremy Cole, Director, Red Rose

13_Digital Aid Biometric Identity Management and Cash_photo_j coleJerry has a wealth of experience of working both in the private and humanitarian sector over the past 20 years . A qualified accountant, who after a successful career in business, left the private sector to pursue a life long ambition of working within the humanitarian sector. Jerry worked with humanitarian agency GOAL for over 10 years where he held positions as Head of Risk, Audit and Compliance and Chief Operations Officer. During his time at GOA,L Jerry identified that the humanitarian sector needed better ways of delivering cash transfers and in 2013 he Co-founded RedRose, a company that specialises in developing electronic cash transfer systems for the humanitarian sector.  Originally from London, Jerry has a Masters in both International Banking and Social policy and a Bachelor of Science in Economics and Accountancy.

Links to related material:

UNHCR – The UN Refugee Agency
Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC)
World Food Programme Scope project
Mercy Corps
Red Rose
Electronic Cash Transfer Learning Action Network (elan)
The Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP)


15. From Typhoon Haiyan to Typhoon Hagupit: Reflections on a Year of Building Data Preparedness and Resilience Networks in the Philippines

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Presenters: Mr. Andrew Schroeder, Director of Research and Analysis, Direct Relief; Mr. Justin Richmond, Mission Specialist, Palantir Technologies

14_From Haiyan to Hagupit Insights from a Year of Building Data Preparedness_screenshotThursday, 30 April 2015, 11:50-12:20

The session presented findings from collaborative data preparedness and community resilience work between the milestones of Typhoons Haiyan and Hagupit in the Philippines.

During Typhoon Haiyan, Direct Relief and Palantir partnered on the MIMOSA (MIniature MObile SAtellite) project for real-time collection of needs assessment data via satellite-connected SMS. Data from the community and infrastructure assessments was integrated via the Palantir Gotham software with open data on international response actors via OCHA and the NDRRMC to gain dynamic understanding of where the response was concentrated relative to storm impacts.

In part on the basis of post-Haiyan findings from the MIMOSA data, which indicated significant gaps between the international response and the needs of many communities, Direct Relief teamed up again with Palantir throughout 2014 to expand data-driven resilience activities with local partners, particularly the Filipino voluntary organization Gawad Kalinga. The goals of this activity have been:

  • Staging data collection and analysis tools with regional leads through the country,
  • Improving network-independent data collection through integration with ODK (Open Data Kits)
  • Establishment of viable community and health assessment ontologies
  • Creation of data sharing arrangements prior to the onset of new events

As a result of these activities Gawad Kalinga is beginning to collect baseline data from as many as 20,000 barangays and to create new community-level data collection and analysis practices. These new arrangements have already been put to the test during response to Typhoon Hagupit in December 2014, producing a wealth of insight into how we might best help to improve disaster response through flexible, technologically-enabled, locally-driven and internationally supported efforts.

Mr. Andrew Schroeder, Director of Research and Analysis, Direct Relief

14_From Haiyan to Hagupit Insights from a Year of Building Data Preparedness_photo_Andrew SchroederAndrew Schroeder is the Director of Research and Analysis at Direct Relief. He specializes in geographic information systems (GIS) for humanitarian operations and global public health. Andrew and Direct Relief were recognized in 2013 for this work with the President’s award from Esri, and again in 2015 with Esri’s special achievement in GIS award. Andrew is currently engaged in a wide range projects, from the evaluation of global drug donation programs to the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for disaster response to the deployment of GIS tools to track and count community health workers to the implementation of spatial analysis in the national laboratory systems of Ethiopia and Indonesia. He has worked on analytics for disaster relief in crises ranging from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines to Hurricane Sandy in New York and the Haiti earthquake. In 2014 he founded the Nethope working group in humanitarian UAVs and joined the advisory board of UAViators. He also serves on the global advisory board to the One-Million Community Health Workers Campaign. Andrew received his PhD from New York University’s Department of Social and Cultural Analysis and his Masters in Public Policy from the Ford School at the University of Michigan.

Mr. Justin Richmond, Mission Specialist, Palantir Technologies14_From Haiyan to Hagupit Insights from a Year of Building Data Preparedness_photo_Richmond Justin

Justin Richmond is currently a forward deployed engineer at Palantir Technologies as well as a Truman National Security Project Fellow. At Palantir, he led the field implementation for the Typhoon Haiyan and Typhoon Hagupit responses in the Philippines. Justin is currently working on data-driven countering violent extremism (CVE) programming in Iraq. He has appeared on BBC World News Service, CCTV’s Cultural Hour, and Radio Sawa speaking on East Asian security issues, North Korea, and nuclear nonproliferation.

Before joining Palantir, Justin deployed to Afghanistan to serve as USAID’s District Stability Framework coordinator to civilian District Support Teams and tactical military units. In that role, he advised and mentored joint civilian/military/Afghan teams on stabilization implementation, and monitoring and evaluation in eastern Afghanistan’s most contested districts.

Justin has worked extensively with local populations in northeastern China, South Korea, and throughout the Philippines. Justin also served in the U.S. Army, first as an Airborne Infantryman and then as a special operations team leader in the southern Philippines in 2009, where he focused on stabilization, counterinsurgency, and information operations. He received his B.A. in Public Policy studies from Duke University in 2005 and is a fluent Korean speaker.

Links to related material:

Direct Relief
Mimosa Project
Palantir Technologies
Palantir Disaster Preparedness

16. World Humanitarian Summit: Defining the Future Humanitarian Response

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Presenter: Mr. Matthew Hochbrueckner, Business Partnership Adviser, UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

Thursday, 30 April 2015, 13:30-14:00

The World Humanitarian Summit, an initiative launched the Secretary-General of the United Nations, is a once in generation opportunity to bring the global community together to commit to new ways of working to save lives and reduce hardship around the globe. The Summit will be held in Istanbul in May 2016, and will be proceeded by numerous consultations including those dedicated to the private sector.

The Summit’s Power of Business theme seeks to engage business actors in discussions on their unique role in emergency preparedness and response by highlighting interests, opportunities and challenges. The ultimate goal is to showcase innovative ways to maximise the power of business in alleviating crises in vulnerable communities and markets. This session highlighted current trends in private sector engagement and addressed identifying opportunities to influence the Summit’s agenda and resulting commitments.

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Mr. Matthew Hochbrueckner, Business Partnership Adviser, UN OCHA

15_World Humanitarian Summit Defining the Future Humanitarian Response_photo_Matthew HochbruecknerMatt Hochbrueckner is the Business Partnership Adviser for UN OCHA in New York, focusing on building collaborative private sector engagement in emergencies, and facilitating business consultations in the lead up to the World Humanitarian Summit.  Most recently he helped lead coordination with the private sector for UNMEER during the Ebola crisis.  Matt has worked the last 8 years with OCHA in partnerships, policy, strategic planning and monitoring.  He has more than 20 years of experience in relief and development, having served in the Philippines, Sierra Leone and the Balkans.  This is his third WGET event.

Links to related material:

World Humanitarian Summit

17. Communication Technology: Challenges and Opportunities for Humanitarian Security

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Presenters: Ms. Lisa Reilly, Executive Coordinator, European Interagency Security Forum (EISF); Ms. Raquel Vazquez, Researcher, EISF16_Lisa Reilly and Raquel Vazquez_Keep Calm_stage shot 3

Thursday, 30 April 2015, 14:00-14:30

The speed with which technology is developing and changing humanitarian programmes means that organisations are simply not keeping up from a security risk management perspective.

To date, few efforts have been made to understand the specific nature of the security threats created by the digital revolution, and the implications for security risk management. In the last decade, humanitarian organisations have been investing in more proactive acceptance strategies, but often forgetting to look at the impact that digital interactions have in the security of staff when we replace the traditional ‘tea in the market’ by Skype meetings with beneficiaries. Nor have there been many efforts to understand the ways in which communications technology is creating new opportunities for humanitarian agencies to respond to emergencies and the impact that new programmes have on how we manage security.

The session looked at these issues, highlighting that to gain and maintain safe access for humanitarian assistance we need a security risk management approach that takes account of the risks associated with developments in communications technology.

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Ms. Lisa Reilly, Executive Coordinator, European Interagency Security Forum (EISF)16_Communication Technology Challenges and Opportunities_photo_Lisa Reilly

Lisa has over 16 years experience in the development and humanitarian response sector, working overseas in a variety of programme management roles in both Africa and Asia. Returning to the UK in 2009 Lisa took up a position with RedR as Security Trainer developing and implementing personal and security management courses, as well as undertaking a number of short-term consultancy projects backstopping and evaluating humanitarian response programmes. Starting as an engineer, Lisa’s security knowledge comes from implementing programmes in various conflict and post-conflict countries, subsequently enhanced through working with a variety of sector experts and on a number of research projects since her return to the UK.

Ms. Raquel Vazquez, Researcher, EISF

16_Communication Technology Challenges and Opportunities_photo_Raquel VazquezRaquel coordinates projects and conducts research to help humanitarian organisations gain safer access to communities affected by conflict and emergencies. She is also a member of the Justice Rapid Response Roster for the rapid deployment of experts in war crimes and mass atrocities investigations. Prior to joining EISF, Raquel worked in Libya, Israel, Bangladesh, Cambodia and the UK for different humanitarian and human rights organisations, and in two international prosecutions, the UN-backed Khmer Rouge Tribunal and the International Criminal Court.

Links to related material:

The European Interagency Security Forum

18. Innovative Communication Systems for Situational Awareness during Crises

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Presenter: Mr. Hassan Abouwafia, Senior Manager Wireless Business Development, Alcatel-LucentMr. Hassan Abouwafia, Senior Manager Wireless Business Development, Alcatel-Lucent presentation

Thursday, 30 April 2015, 14:30-15:00

Situational Awareness (SA) during Crises requires Communication Systems able to timely provide to authorities and citizens all the information they need for the perception,  comprehension and projection of the situation.

This session presented the experience of a multiyear Research program (and relevant field trials) focused on Emergency Telecommunications carried out by Alcatel-Lucent, where the requirements for SA during different types of crises have been assessed: hydro-geological calamities, earthquake, volcano eruption, air pollution, terroristic attacks… On the basis of these requirements the proper strategy / approach for effective “Communications with Communities” has been assessed and gradually implemented. The outcome has been an innovative Communication System  that can be used for several applications for humanitarian response and to bring benefits to communities. Specific models are being assessed in order to facilitate the access to the solution from all the countries, in order to use it for humanitarian aid.

Mr. Hassan Abouwafia, Senior Manager Wireless Business Development, Alcatel-Lucent

Mr. Hassan Abouwafia, Senior Manager Wireless Business Development, Alcatel-LucentAs Senior Manager Wireless Business Development, Alcatel-Lucent, Hassan works with a regional team to define and develop Wireless/LTE business strategy and opportunities throughout META towards carrier customers; to support Key account teams in penetrating new Wireless/LTE segments.

Prior to his current position at Alcatel-Lucent, Hassan held various positions in Project Management, Marketing, Sales and Business development functions across service providers’ and equipment vendors’ domains. Hassan has more than 15 years’ experience in telecommunications, He holds a Bachelor degree in Telecommunications Engineering and Master’s degree in Engineering Management. Hassan has been appointed as official speaker in various Telecommunication conferences across Middle East & Africa, as well as some personal appointments for delivering Technology lectures for the American University in Cairo, Helwan University & IEEE

Links to related material:
UE Research Project with Alcatel-Lucent: ESS-Emergency Support System

19. Citizen Engagement During a Crisis

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Mr. Tom Malanfant, CSR Product Manager, Motorola SolutionsPresenter: Mr. Tom Malanfant, CSR Product Manager, Motorola Solutions

Thursday, 30 April 2015, 15:40-16:10

Communities all across the globe are being faced with more frequent crisis-type events ranging from major weather events such as hurricanes or large-scale disease outbreaks such as Ebola in Africa.  Citizens need to feel as safe as possible during these events and staying connected provides some comfort as communities prepare, react and respond to these emergencies. Communities are sharing more and more information with citizens to enable them to make better decisions during these critical moments.

Technologies today allow communities to keep citizens engaged and connected by utilizing best practices in communication, emergency preparedness and response, thereby satisfying the ever increasing thirst for information through multiple channels which can assist in keeping residents safer as they plan and respond to these events.

This session explored technologies and best practices that are used in the municipal space and how they may apply in humanitarian and disaster response scenarios.

Mr. Tom Malanfant, CSR Product Manager, Motorola Solutions

Mr. Tom Malanfant, CSR Product Manager, Motorola SolutionsTom has been a Senior Product Planner with Motorola for approximately 5 years.  Prior to joining Motorola, Tom worked for over 25 years in Municipal Government and was Manager of the Customer Service Division for the City of Windsor, Ontario Canada which included the City of Windsor’s 211/311 Call Centre.  He has facilitated customer service sessions for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the Strategic Institute Summit on Municipal Government, numerous National and Provincial conferences as well as many Municipalities throughout Ontario.

Tom was a member of a team of Customer Service Leaders from across North America who assembled at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard to study the history of 311 and identify ways to further enhance and sustain the 311 service throughout North America.

Tom is a graduate of both St Clair College and the University of Windsor and also holds a Level 3 designation as a Certified Municipal Manager from the Ontario Municipal Management Institute.

Link to related material:
Motorola Solutions

20. Disruptive Innovation: Train Wrecks on the Right Track

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Presenter: Mr. Edward G. Happ, Global CIO, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)22 Disruptive Innovation Train Wrecks on the Right Track capture 1

Thursday, 30 April 2015, 16:10-16:40

The late American humorist, Will Rogers, once quipped that “Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.”  And yet large parts of our Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) infrastructure is based on last century models—even if only 15 years ago.  A recent study by the International Civil Society concluded that “The role CSOs will play in tomorrow’s world may very much depend on their ability to anticipate and effectively navigate disruptions.”

Disruptive change is about scale, speed and surprise; the point being that it is hard to plan for, but imperative to be flexible and agile for.  Yet for some of our organizations the large ‘lights-on’ infrastructure has become the tail that wags the dog.  Add to that the trends in large systems and it is evident large CSOs are pursuing a corporate IT path that they cannot afford or sustain.  Will we be able to move fast enough to avoid the train-wreck?

This session looked at how organizations can adopt and leverage disruptive changes while managing the enterprise during this transformation.

Mr. Edward G. Happ, Global CIO, International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

20_Edward Happ_IMG_0025 copyEdward G. Happ is the Global CIO of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, based in Geneva, Switzerland, and co-founder and former Chairman of NetHope, a U.S. based consortium of 41 leading international relief, development and conservation nonprofits focused on information and communications technology (ICT) and collaboration.

He is the former Chief Information Officer at Save the Children, in Westport, Connecticut.  During his first year at Save the Children, in March 2001, he presented a paper to Cisco on “Wiring the Virtual Village,” which became the basis for NetHope. Before joining Save the Children, he was a senior partner and founder of HP Management Decisions Ltd.,  a management consultancy, and has held a variety of corporate management positions, to the Senior Vice President and General Manager level, with Wall Street data providers, service and software product companies.

His 35 years of professional experience include all facets of managing information services and high technology businesses, including general management with P&L responsibility, operations, product management, sales, marketing, customer service, human resources management, technical consulting, manufacturing, and both software and hardware development.

He began his career as an Assistant VP, Equity Research at the First Boston Corporation.  Mr. Happ is a graduate of Drew University where he also did graduate work.  He is also the founder and editor of The Fairfield Review, Connecticut’s first on-line literary magazine.  Further information on Mr. Happ may be found on his web page at:

Link to related material:

International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)