Ever since mVAM started out in 2014, our partners have encouraged us to engage with others in the technology and humanitarian fields to learn from them and to share our own experiences. One example of this is our work with Nancy Mock and Nathan Morrow, who teach at Tulane University and have written extensively on information technology’s potential to transform humanitarian information systems. They even implemented a review of mVAM in 2015 that helped us develop our theory of change. Of course, we also have this blog and an online resource center, where people can find the tools we use.
In the spirit of information-sharing, we pitched two papers with Nathan and Nancy to the Humanitarian Technology conference last week. HumTech is a Boston-based event that brings together people working on emerging technologies to further enable global humanitarian assistance. Our first paper ‘Knowing Just in Time’ assesses mVAM’s contribution to decision-making by looking at use cases for mVAM in camps, conflict settings and vulnerable geographies. It explores the question of data use in the organization and the gaps that need to be filled. The second paper: ‘mVAM: a New Contribution to the Information Ecology of Humanitarian Work’ gets more technical, documenting data quality and reliability issues that we have identified with SMS and voice surveys. Having submitted these two research papers we were excited to go along to the event and see what everyone else was up to.
At HumanTech we heard inspiring talks from leading names in the field like Gisli Olaffson, Patrick Meier and Nathaniel Raymond. In fact, our mobile surveys seemed almost quaint after hearing about the uses of artificial intelligence, computer vision and bioprinting!
So when the organizers announced that our use case paper had won ‘best paper for outstanding impact’ we were thrilled that we are still recognized as innovative! A huge thanks goes to Nancy and Nathan for their collaboration on these papers. We came back from the conference more excited than ever to keep exchanging ideas!