USAID Global Development Lab

11. Communicating with Communities: Social Data and Predictives for Humanitarian Response

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Presenters: Ms. Heather Leson, Program Manager, Social Innovation, Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI); Dr. Larissa Fast, AAAS Fellow, USAID Global Development Lab Wednesday, 29 April, 15:30-16:30 Disaster-affected communities are increasingly the source of the “Big Data” that gets generated during disasters. Making sense of this flash flood of information is proving an impossible challenge for traditional humanitarian organizations. What are the next generation needs for actionable research and software in the field of Social Data and Predictives for Humanitarian response, especially focused on communicating with communities? This session built from the lessons learned from QCRI’s Social Innovation Team while engaging participants in small group discussion. Participants were asked to discuss key topics such as research needs, opportunities and barriers. 10_Communicating with Communities Social Data and Predictives_screenshot

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Ms. Heather Leson, Program Manager, Social Innovation, Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) 10_Communicating with Communities Social Data and Predictives_photo_HeatherLesonHeather Leson is a programme manager and community builder for global open source projects. As the Programme Manager, Social Innovation for the Qatar Computing Research Institute, Qatar Foundation she creates projects and programmes for social innovation and humanitarian software. Specializing in strategic planning, community engagement, and fundraising, Heather is a Board member for Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team. She demonstrates mentorship and leadership as an ambassador and adviser for numerous social technology start-ups including School of Data, Jump2Spot and Invstg8net. She is a member of the Standby Task Force and Non-Commercial User Constituency, ICANN. Organizations she leads in include the Crisis Mappers Network, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap TeamOpen Knowledge Foundation (School of Data), Ushahidi, Random Hacks of Kindness, Mozilla and more. Recognized as a digital humanitarian leader, Crowdsourcing Week cited her as one of the Top 10 Canadian Experts. Heather curates numerous civil society, open source and technology workshops and is a frequent public speaker including such events as IEEE Humanitarian Technology ConferenceGoogle Big TentUN Human Rights Council, World Bank, OSCONTedxSilkRoadUNSpider and various Canadian government events. Heather has over 15 years of experience in technical incident management, software life-cycle development, customer care, and Internet communications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Combined Political Science and History from Carleton University in Canada’s capital city of Ottawa, and a Library and Information Technician diploma from Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology in Toronto. Leadership programmes that Heather has participated include Personal Democracy Forum Google Fellow) and a certificate for the Annenberg-Oxford Media Policy Summer Institute (2012).

Dr. Larissa Fast, AAAS Fellow, USAID Global Development Lab10_Communicating with Communities Social Data and Predictives_photo_Fast Larissa Fast is a AAAS Fellow at the USAID/Global Development Lab working with the Digital Development Team. She is also Assistant Professor of Conflict Resolution at the Kroc Institute and Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame. Her book, Aid in Danger: The Perils and Promise of Humanitarianism (2014, University of Pennsylvania Press) explores the causes of and responses to violence against aid workers. Fast has published in the European Journal of International Relations, Conflict Resolution Quarterly, and Disasters. Her research has been funded by the Swiss Development Corporation, the United States Institute of Peace, and the US Agency for International Development.

Links to related material:

Qatar Computing Research Institute
US Global Development Lab