TPM research and game development to support humanitarian aid workers

During the last couple of months, TPM researchers Heide Lukosch, Yan Wang, and Philipp Schwarz worked together with gamelab team leader Simon Tiemersma on a board game for humanitarian aid work. With the help of lots of papers, maps, pens, and lego bricks, the game 'Plaitra' has been designed - and play-tested by a number of colleagues! Plaitra is used as an instrument to help track aid workers and protect them in conflict zones.

iTRACK
This development is part of a European Research Project called iTRACK that focuses on protecting and tracking humanitarians and humanitarian convoys in conflict zones, specifically in Syria, Iraq and Yemen. Despite the increasing availability of tracking and monitoring technologies, the number of humanitarian workers that fall victim to attacks continues to rise. That is why a new and innovative approach to tracking is needed. For this purpose, a socio-technical system as well as policies for its use are being developed within the iTRACK project. The board game Plaitra is used in this process as instrument for requirements analysis. It is based on a prototype that has been developed by a group of SEPAM students in the course 'Game Design Project' (SEN9235). 

Testing the game
On 11 May the game has been played during a full-day game session with project partners and humanitarian aid workers from the World Food Programme, iMMAP and other organisations at Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki in Norway. During the game play and within a structured de-briefing it became clear that the technology envisioned has to have a strong relation to existing systems, and has to be flexible enough to be adaptable to different crisis situations.

Training game
The results of the game session will support the further development of the iTRACK system, which will undergo a first test within a large game-based exercise to be carried out at TPM as well as TU Delft Campus The Hague in April 2018. The board game will be further developed into a training game for humanitarian logistics and information management together with the Finnish Red Cross and other parties.