Fit for purpose? How innovation, experimentation and digital harm changed aid

This workshop presented some of the key findings from the Do No Harm project and invited participants to reflect on the larger issue of how the digital transformation of aid and humanitarian innovation initiatives have challenged the sector – but also contributed to more accountable humanitarian action.

The growing import of ICTs and data, and new partnerships with the private sector, generate new ethical, legal and operational questions for humanitarians. Grappling with challenges arising from technology implementation in emergency contexts, the project Do No Harm: Ethical Humanitarian Innovation and Digital Bodies has investigated cybersecurity threats, profit motifs, experimental practices and the securitisation of data in the humanitarian sector.


10:00-10:15: Introduction and welcome by Kristin Bergtora Sandvik (Research Professor, University of Oslo and Peace Research Institute Oslo (PRIO))

10:15-10:45: From the Critical Humanitarian Technology project to Humanitarian extractivism: Highlight project findings

Kristin Bergtora Sandvik and Kristoffer Lidén (Senior Researcher, PRIO)

 10:45-12:00: Looking forward. Papers and discussion

Chaired by Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert (Research Director, PRIO) and discussant Kristoffer Lidén and Ben Hayes (Research Associate, PRIO and Strategy Director, AWO Agency)

  • Data sharing by Larissa Fast, (Professor, University of Manchester
  • Humanitarian technology in geopolitical context by Katja Lindskov Jacobsen (Senior Researcher, University of Copenhagen)
  • Digital experimentalism in aid from drones to DNA by Kristin Bergtora Sandvik

12:00-13:00: Lunch

13:00-14:15: Looking backwards. Papers and discussion

Chaired by Kristin Bergtora Sandvik and discussant Larissa Fast and Katja Lindskov Jacobsen

  • Humanitarian activism and the shifting role of digital tools by Maria Gabrielsen Jumbert
  • Data protection revisited by Ben Hayes
  • Ethics of the ethics of humanitarian technology and innovation by Kristoffer Lidén

14:15-14:30: Wrap up

This workshop was co-hosted by PRIO and the Norwegian Centre for Humanitarian Studies.