At the human behavioral interface of collecting knowledge in the field…to what degree do you really need to place the responsibility of structuring information from the field knowledgeable for those far away that “need to know”…if it comes at the cost of time energy and capacity of those with the least of it?
We talk a lot about streamlining “point of entry” data collection but what back up plans are you willing to anticipate and prepare for? To make the purpose of why you want to collect data come to reality… when human behavior and humanitarian crisis environments breaks your tool.
What happens with crisis informatics, data visualizations, and mapping during a period of humanitarian transition.
What is humanitarian transition?
We often talk about crisis mapping in the new digital age especially during acute phases of natural onset disasters. But for every disaster every conflict every complex crisis there’s often a period of humanitarian transition to development. There’s a lot more written about it from the policy sign on the guidelines of what “should” happen but much less is written about actually what happens operationally, and even less is written about what happens to data and information systems.
But this blog post aims to be a placeholder for future posts about what happens with micro tasking, data wrangling and mapping when you have humanitarian staff turnover coupled with constantly changing agendas when humanitarian assistance lurches in recovery.
My first thought ( at the end of an ER shift & a long week which limits my ability to think, frankly) is that it’s highly complicated much in the same ways that overall humanitarian transition and humanitarian staff turnover is complicated. ( wow that was so far from insightful…)
The perception of data and its structured formats may provide a façade for some of the challenges that lie under the hood during humanitarian transition. My theory is is that it gets even harder in these transitional settings because humanitarian turnover exacerbates stressors to pre-existing and established data sets during the acute phase a crisis. It all gets messy with systems ,and sometimes things begin to break down because they were not built for the future with a whole host of new users, decision-makers, funders.
So my last thought is about looking at data and systems from a human perspective. So imagine this in the context of the West Africa Ebola crisis, now over 9 months and still going. Involved humanitarian may be more tired, More likely rounding in and rounding out from crisis to crisis. She/he may have different skill sets, familiar with different types of technologies or platforms and even more importantly varying levels of stamina to try new platforms, take over for old ones that they may not be familiar with and just keep trudging along.
What happens to data data systems & outcomes now? …Imagine what can happen…
We need to Chameleon-ize ourselves around people, behaviors and the data they use in humanitarian settings , in order to build flexible systems for the short term while preparing for the long-term.