On November 8th 2013 Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. To date, Haiyan remains the strongest storm ever recorded with over 6,300 casualties and more than 12 million people displaced or otherwise affected. Within minutes after Haiyan’s landfall, the web was also flooded with optimism, particularly about the promise of communication technologies in disaster recovery and humanitarian relief. Such optimism is recent although it predates Haiyan. The 2013 World Disasters Report uses the term 'humanitarian technology' to refer to the empowering nature of digital technologies such as mobile phones and social media for disaster recovery. It is claimed that interactive technologies enable affected communities to participate in their own recovery, respond to their own problems and ‘make their voices heard.’ Digital technologies are welcomed for their potential to catalyze a ‘powerN shift’ in humanitarianism by building feedback structures that empower local communities to hold humanitarian and government agencies into account."" Despite the enthusiasm regarding the role of digital technologies as tools for disaster recovery there is little evidence to assess their impact. The ‘Humanitarian Technologies Project’ examines the optimistic account of communication technologies by providing empirical evidence on the uses of communication technologies by affected populations as well as stakeholders involved in the Haiyan recovery. Funded by an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Urgency Grant, our project investigated the consequences of communication technologies for disaster recovery in the following critical areas: 1) information dissemination; 2) collective problemNsolving; 3) redistribution of resources; 4) accountability and transparency of humanitarian efforts; 5) voice and empowerment of affected populations.
Madianou, M., Ong, J., Longboan, L., Cornelio, J., & Curato, N. (2015). Humanitarian Technologies: Understanding the Role of Digital Media in Disaster Recovery. Humanitarian Technologies Project. London: Goldsmiths, University of London.