Digital Humanitarians: How Big Data Is Changing the Face of Humanitarian Response

Patrick Meier, 2015, CRC Press (Boca Raton, FL, 978-1-4822-4839-5, 259 pp.)

Abstract

This is a review of Patrick Meier’s 2015 book, Digital Humanitarians: How Big Data Is Changing the Face of Humanitarian Response. The book explores the role of technologies such as high-resolution satellite imagery, online social media, drones, and artificial intelligence in humanitarian responses during disasters such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake. In this analysis, the book is examined using a humanitarian health ethics perspective.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Meier voices concern about the accuracy and reliability of data available via social media during a disaster (2015, 129, 151), raising questions about how we can fairly distribute resources in urgent settings despite constant digital noise.

  2. 2.

    In 2015, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs initiated data security policy discussions with the humanitarian sector, with the goal to establish policies for humanitarian workers and organizations to uphold when using data in humanitarian action (Whipkey and Verity 2015).

References

  1. Meier, P. 2015. Digital humanitarians: How big data is changing the face of humanitarian response. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press.

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  2. Regan, M. 2016. Humanitarian efforts benefit from drones as ethical debate continues. PBS, October 23. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/drone-use-humanitarian-aid/. Accessed May 15, 2017.

  3. Whipkey, K., and A. Verity. 2015. Guidance for incorporating big data into humanitarian operations. New York: UN-OCHA and the Digital Humanitarian Network’s community of interest on Decision Makers Needs. http://digitalhumanitarians.com/sites/default/files/resource-field_media/IncorporatingBigDataintoHumanitarianOps-2015.pdf. Accessed May 2, 2017.

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Correspondence to Anushree Dave.

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Dave, A. Digital Humanitarians: How Big Data Is Changing the Face of Humanitarian Response . Bioethical Inquiry 14, 567–569 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11673-017-9807-8

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Keywords

  • Book review
  • Digital humanitarians
  • Bioethics
  • Humanitarian aid
  • Disaster response
  • Disaster ethics