Inaugural address Bartel Van de Walle 10 March: “Data for Dunant”
Last year alone, over 200 million people were directly affected by natural or man-made disasters worldwide. According to one of the leading re-assurance companies, total economic losses from natural and man-made disasters in 2016 were estimated to be at least $158 billion. Not surprisingly, researchers, humanitarian organizations and local and global policy makers are trying to harness the power of new data and information technologies to better comprehend the causes and mitigate the consequences of disasters.
Building upon this wave of new technologies, the United Nations is opening a new Center for Humanitarian Data Centre in The Hague this year. In this lecture, I will address the possibilities and challenges that result from the technology and data focus that is now permeating the world’s response to disasters. Reflecting on Henri Dunant’s motivation to establish the Red Cross, I will revisit the values of compassion and alleviation of suffering that underpin humanitarism and the threats caused to them by the current developments. I will highlight the persistent need to understand the decision makers’ information needs in humanitarian response, and illustrate the implications for researchers and policy makers in the complex web of humanitarian activism, organizational power and global technology.
Prior to the lecture at 3 p.m., a small workshop takes place in Commissiekamer 3 -Aula from 12a.m. till 2:30p.m. with speakers from Harvard, the US National Science Foundation and practitioners and TPM PhD students to which you are also cordially invited.