Shifting the Dynamics of Humanitarian Crisis Response through Technology and Innovation

As we enter a new era marked by a technological change in humanitarian crisis response, we take a closer look at how the power of artificial intelligence (AI), remote sensing, and new methods for data analysis are shifting the dynamics of the sector

As part of iMMAP's commitment to delivering information management services and capacity building to our partners in support the most vulnerable populations, our team in Colombia successfully hosted and delivered an online event - ´Innovation and Use of New Technologies in Humanitarian Crises´ between July 7th and 10th, 2020 with over 1,000 participants attending from numerous countries. The event focused on presenting and analyzing visible examples of innovation and new technologies being used within the humanitarian aid sector, and how these tools and methods can be utilized in Colombia as part of the Venezuela crisis response.

This event was built upon iMMAP’s experience in applying new technologies to provide accurate information in support of humanitarian activities, including remote sensing and satellite imagery, artificial intelligence (AI), the use of social media (Facebook), and mobile data collection. These methods have been regularly used by iMMAP, together with its partners, in the detection and analysis of informal settlements throughout Colombia, monitoring population trends, conducting market value chain assessments, and understanding the environmental hazards of disaster-prone areas impacted by crises. The flexibility and interconnectedness of these new technologies allow for easy adaptation in the emergence of new crises such as COVID-19.

During four days, iMMAP and its partners delivered insightful presentations that looked at how new technologies and innovations can be implemented in humanitarian clusters and sectors; Health, Food Security, Nutrition and WASH, Livelihoods and Cash-Transfer, as well as Multisector activities. The event included moderators and speakers from different types of organizations, including iMMAP partners, donor agencies, humanitarian agencies, international NGOs, and academia.


  • Jean-Baptiste Fatun - NukkAI

    Data analysis by means of artificial intelligence

  • Rafael Chacón - Code for Venezuela

    An analytics approach to understanding the crisis.

  • Ciro Cattuto - ISI Foundation

    Data Analysis

  • Mikel Maron & Hannah Judge - Mapbox

    New mapping technology for response and public health

  • Mercedes Fogarassy - RIWI Corp

    Covid19 Impact on market access, food security and livelihoods in Latin American Countries

  • Federico Baylé - Dymaxion Labs

    Strategies for monitoring large crops extensions with remote sensors

  • Philip Frost - iMMAP MENA

    Open Data Cube in relation to  Food Security

  • Alexandra Gomez Avila y Vanessa Guzman - ESRI

    Sow, Learn, Grow Program (Panama)

  • Andres Lozano y Roaa Al Feel - Data Pop Alliance

    Traditional and Non-traditional Data to provide insight into the living conditions of Syrian refugees and host communities in Lebanon

  • Daniela Rubio - Premise

    “Crowdsourcing Data for Emergency Management and Response: the case for Healthcare”

  • Fabiano Franz - World Vision

    Money transfer tool

  • Ruben Galindo - AirTM

    Financially empowering citizens in unstable economies

  • Ingmar Weber - Qatar Computing Research Institute

    Tapping into Facebook and Google Data for Mobility Studies

  • Pia Faustino - Thinking Machines

    Aerial Imagery for Social Good

  • Ewan Oglethorpe and Patrice Chataigner - Data Friendly Space

    Quantifying the Qualitative

    Improving Situational Analysis using DEEP & Secondary Data Review

  • Phuong Pham and Patrick Vinck - Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

    Data Collection and Analysis


Most participants attended from Colombia and Venezuela, followed by USA, Iraq, UK and numerous Central and South American countries. Amongst these participants, over 60 people attended from various United Nations agencies including individuals working in decision making, information management, project management, and coordination roles.

Total number of people registered and attending the event individually

Participants by thematic session

Job role of participants

Language of choice of participants (%)

Some of the main issues put forward to the presenters and moderators were the limitations faced in accessing remote locations, the use of AI, the use of online/offline data collection methods, and implementing do-no-harm policies in data collection activities and data protection. Throughout the event, these issues were collectively analyzed with the aim of overcoming limitations in accessing and visualizing data, to ensure accurate information is collected and presented. iMMAP´s prior experience with new technologies globally was incorporated into the event through the discussion and analysis of how these innovations can be adapted to the context of Colombia and Venezuela, to improve humanitarian response coordination and meet the needs of vulnerable communities.

Positive feedback regarding the event was provided by the moderators and speakers, who highlighted the benefit of ¨showing innovations, content, and ways of using data for different sectoral needs¨.

Through technical work, knowledge sharing, building and strengthening the technical capacity of our partners, and seeking synergies with key organizations to find innovative solutions to our partners' challenges, iMMAP is helping lead the way to a new era marked by a change in the dynamics of humanitarian crisis response.