SciDevNet covers ORCHID disaster response reserach

SciDevNet has a piece on our ORCHID research entitled “Artificial intelligence to help disaster aid coordination”. The article features a quote by Andrej Verity, an emergency manager from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. It appears he has voiced his scepticism on technology that bridges cross-organisational boundaries.

“All the big humanitarian organisations already have their own procedures and software systems, so trying to do something bigger and bring collaboration across organisations on a technical level is extremely difficult”

While I don’t disagree with Verity, it is unclear in which context this statement has been recorded (assuming Verity has actually said this), or indeed whether the quote actually relates to the technologies Sarvapali Ramchurn (an ORCHID researcher) is talking about in the article. These technologies include algorithms that plan paths for UAVs for optimal reconnaissance, and verification of the authenticity and trustworthiness of information from social media, to name just a few. Ramchurn does not actually talk about technologies that “bring collaboration across organisations”.

It appears that Verity has been quoted out of context, or, has misunderstood the kinds of technologies we are developing in the ORCHID project.

By concluding with Verity’s quote,  the article suggests that the research is somewhat naive to the realities of technology use and adoption. This is not the case. For example, we are working with Rescue Global to understand their work practices and technological haves, wants and needs, so that the technologies we develop are grounded in the organisation’s actual needs. Our approach follows the long-standing tradition of user-centred design, and borrows from participatory design. The users are at the heart of what we do.

The original article can be found at:

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