Infoscience

Conference paper

A Developing World Perspective on the Design of Wireless Enabled Humanitarian Relief Services

In the absence of adequate state support, societies in the developing world have long relied on community support for humanitarian relief. Such community networks provide a readily available platform for delivery of humanitarian relief services. Wireless technologies can play an important role in enabling humanitarian relief applications that strengthen these community networks by facilitating the flow of information amongst the community members. Nevertheless, given the welfare nature of the activity, these applications face some strict design constraints that emerge from the larger socio-political-economic landscape. This paper presents a systematic approach to unearth the requirements that these domains may impose on the design of wireless enabled information and communication oriented humanitarian relief services, wiHRS. We describe SEAM, a systems thinking inspired conceptual framework that provides the theoretical underpinnings of the modeling apparatus used in this paper. As an example, we demonstrate the relevance of this framework to the design of wiHRS by analyzing the economics of enhanced information flow in community networks and how this analysis can be exploited to reflect on the financial viability of such services by, say, soliciting support from financial risk management instruments like insurance schemes.

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