Computers and mobile phones are already essential to humanitarian planning, and 2011 saw the growth of technology-based humanitarian interventions, from the use of GPS (global positioning systems) to provide early weather warnings to real-time health reporting.
Here is a round-up of IRIN articles on important humanitarian technology in 2011:
An electronic voucher scheme is being used to fight malnutrition by providing nutritious food to HIV-positive Zimbabweans on antiretroviral therapy and their families.
EpiCollect, developed by Imperial College, London, allows the geospatial collation of data collected by mobile phone; Kenyan vets are using it for disease surveillance, monitoring outbreaks, treatments, vaccinations and animal deaths.
The Nepalese government and World Health Organization are mapping health facilities using GPS to help the country plan disaster response in case of a major earthquake.
Tennis ball-sized mud balls were thrown into flood water in the hope of improving the quality of stagnant water following weeks of flooding in Thailand.
Using FrontlineSMS - an open-source software enabling users to send and receive text messages with groups of people - village malaria workers in Cambodia can now report, in real time, all malaria cases in their villages to the Malaria Information and Alert System in Phnom Penh with a simple text message, including the patient's name, age, location and type of parasite.
Tweetback, an Egyptian fundraising campaign to help slum-dwellers, raised $218,855 within 10 days of its formation in July.
In Bangladesh, Airtel, a private mobile operator, has teamed up with the Campaign for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods, the Centre for Global Change and two international NGOs (Oxfam and CARE) to provide early weather warnings to fishermen at sea using GPS.
A handheld, battery-powered device which can take a drop of blood, urine or sputum and tell a community health worker in a remote village whether a feverish child has malaria, dengue or a bacterial infection is in development by Indian scientists.
The Burkina Faso Red Cross sends bluntly worded text messages to government officials, employers, traditional leaders, teachers, business owners and housewives several times a year in an effort to reduce the widespread exploitation of domestic workers by raising awareness of their rights.
As part of efforts to reform the mining sector, an initiative in the Democratic Republic of Congo aims to map artisanal mining sites, transportation routes, and mineral trading points, reflecting the security and human rights situation on the ground, using Geographic Information System (GIS) software.
The Map Kibera project, which uses hand-held global GPS devices to collect geographic information in Nairobi's largest slum, is providing vital information on the availability and location of health, security, education and water/sanitation services.