Information as Humanitarian Aid: Delivering Digital Services to Empower Disaster-Affected Communities

Information as Humanitarian Aid: Delivering Digital Services to Empower Disaster-Affected Communities

Kenny Meesters, Yan Wang
Copyright: © 2021 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-6705-0.ch015
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For a plethora of decisions we make on a daily basis, we can rely on timely, tailored information delivered via digital services. The technologies and the knowledge needed for the design, development and delivery of digital services have become increasingly accessible. These developments have also made their way to the crisis response domain and resulted in a variety of digital services to deliver information, supporting emergency responders in their decision-making processes. At the same time, affected communities by disasters are also in need of information during such critical events. Timely, relevant information helps affected citizens to understand the situation, make informed decisions, and gain access to life-saving aid. However, designing, creating, and delivering digital services to deliver vital information to communities warrant specific considerations. This chapter per the authors explores the concept of digital services in regard to empowering communities affected by critical events.
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The Age Of Digital Services

ICT advancements have contributed to a proliferation of digital services in many different fields, including governmental services (‘government to citizen’) (Fang & management, 2002), improved service to customer in the commercial sector (‘business to consumer’), between consumers to exchange goods and services (‘consumer to consumer’), and many other interactions. Meanwhile the acceptance of employing digital services in daily life by the society and individuals accelerates its adoption and subsequently reinforces the growth of the digital information era (Gantz & Reinsel, 2012).

The democratization of information technologies, including more accessible programming languages, cloud services, and public platforms have enabled more and more organizations to develop and offer services as an extension of their business model. Moreover, these developments are no longer exclusive to companies with large ICT-budgets or people with a highly specialized knowledge. Today, smaller organizations and even individuals have access to both the technologies and knowledge to develop digital services. In fact, thanks to digital services, this access to the building blocks has increased globally. For example, there are numerous websites that offer free tutorials on programming, cloud providers offer low-cost entry plans for providing infrastructure, and social media allow people to promote or exchange ideas. The push towards digital services is further spurred on by economic initiatives and the increased attention to STEM-education across the globe (National Research Council, 2011)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Mapping: A matching process where the points of one set are linked to points of another one.

Service Delivery: A process of plan, design, development, implement and maintain of an application that provides added value to customers. The application could be digital, intangible or a mix of both formats.

Participatory Design: An approach that actively involves all stakeholders in the design process to ensure the products or services meet the needs of target users.

Community Empowerment: A process to enable communities to increase control over their lives.

Governance Capacity: The resource to define common directions of an organization and translate the vision into policy and practices.

User-Centered Design: A type of design approach that centers around users’ problem and needs to define products or services.

Crowdsourcing: A practice of engaging a group for a common goal, such as data collection, data analysis or dissemination information.

Information System: A socio-technical system designed to collect, process, store and disseminate information.

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