Data Collection and Refugee Protection

Release Date: 
Thursday, December 17, 2015
Refugees at Vienna West Railway Station during the European migrant crisis 2015. Image (C) Bwag/Commons

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As the numbers of migrants and refugees entering Europe continue to increase, data collection and analysis, particularly through mobile technology, social media, and crowdsourcing, provide humanitarian actors with key insights into critical protection gaps and emerging trends. Yet the growing use of information technology over the last decade has also introduced new concerns regarding the ethics, security, and utility of data for the humanitarian sector. While expansive data collection has created opportunities for more effective aid delivery to displaced populations, humanitarian agencies must also address the growing need for more sophisticated safeguards to protect the personal information of vulnerable civilians. Furthermore, extensive data collection also requires agencies to find effective means of analyzing large volumes of data to inform programming and humanitarian response in real time.

In conversations with key experts and practitioners, this podcast will assess current information management methodologies and practices applicable to humanitarian response, the continued development of professional standards in this area, and the policy implications of leveraging information technology to address large-scale protection challenges. This podcast will also examine how to create trusted pathways for information gathering by both agencies and displaced populations alike, as well as shared practices for incorporating considerations around data into protection programming.

Through discussions with high-level practitioners and experts in the field, this podcast will address the following questions:

  • How can data be better collected, analyzed and leveraged to improve humanitarian response, especially in the current refugee crisis?
  • What are the key professional and ethical dilemmas involved in the collection of data from vulnerable populations?
  • What protocols or standards should be implemented in order to ensure that information collected by humanitarian agencies is directly integrated into protection programming and strategies?

Expert Commentators:

Vlatko Avramovski
Human Mobility Tracking Expert, Department of Operations and Emergencies, International Organization for Migration
Twitter: @IOM_news
Devin Balkind
President, Sahana Software Foundation
Twitter: @devinbalkind
Tina Comes
Senior Fellow, Harvard Humanitarian Institute
Twitter: @tinacomes
Kimberly Roberson
Chief of Field Information and Coordination Support, UNHCR Headquarters
Twitter: @Refugees
Patrick Vinck
Director, Program on Peace and Human Rights Data
Genevieve Wills
Head of the Operational Information Management (OIM) unit and the WFP Operations Centre (OpsCen)
Twitter: @WFP


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