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Tina Comes

Role: Keynote Speaker
Affiliation: Delft University of Technology
Talk Title: Data for Good? Designing Humanitarian Technology

Information has been recognized as humanitarian aid for more than a decade now. This development has occurred alongside the rise of near-global connectivity and proliferation of mobile phones, video devices, remote mapping, crowdsourcing, or the use of drones for data collection. Humanitarian technology and innovation thus promise to improve humanitarian response by better, more transparent and accessible data.

But recent health disasters such as the 2015 Ebola Outbreak show that there are many open challenges: remote management and coordination focus on data, neglecting digital shades and particularly the most vulnerable populations. Sourcing and data collection are designed to monitor and control, not to empower communities. Frameworks and protocols for data sharing that respect privacy of patients had to be negotiated as the disease was taking a toll on the population. Aid frameworks were not designed for a mobile and dynamic outbreak.

In this keynote, I will discuss a series of design requirements and argue for combining technology and policy innovation to ensure that data is, indeed, for good.


Dr. Tina Comes is Delft Technology Fellow in the Department of Multi-Actor Systems at the TU Delft, and Professor in the Department of ICT, University of Agder, Norway. Dr Comes is a Senior Research Fellow at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative and Visiting Professor at the Université Dauphine. She studied Mathematics, literature and philosophy. After receiving her Ph.D. on distributed scenario-based decision support from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, she was head of a research group on Risk Management.

Her interdisciplinary research aims at designing resilience in large scale distributed systems. By harnessing the transformative power of the digital era, different communities and professionals will be empowered to address the challenges that modern societies face by participating in the agile response to shocks and adaptive planning for a sustainable future.

Dr. Comes is author of more than 90 papers published in international journals and conferences, and she has been actively promoting the topic of decision support in disaster management. She currently serves as Vice President of the ISCRAM Association to promote research on Information for Crisis and Disaster Management.

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