Cities have always had to contend with things like natural disaster, economic and infrastructure collapse, and widespread illness. But globalization, climate change and rapid urbanization are making this moment in history different, and the stresses facing cities all the more complex. So how can cities survive, adapt, and grow, no matter what shocks might lie ahead? Join the Rockefeller Foundation's Judith Rodin for a look at what she calls "the resilience dividend" — investments that can minimize the disruptive effects of strain on a city, while simultaneously creating jobs, social cohesion, and equity.
nytimes.com - April 6th, 2014 - Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis
Big data is suddenly everywhere. Everyone seems to be collecting it, analyzing it, making money from it and celebrating (or fearing) its powers. Whether we’re talking about analyzing zillions of Google search queries to predict flu outbreaks, or zillions of phone records to detect signs of terrorist activity, or zillions of airline stats to find the best time to buy plane tickets, big data is on the case. By combining the power of modern computing with the plentiful data of the digital era, it promises to solve virtually any problem — crime, public health, the evolution of grammar, the perils of dating — just by crunching the numbers.
Image: Social media and increasingly accessible smartphones help groups mobilise around the world. Photograph: Prasit Chansareekorn/Flickr Vision
theguardian.org - March 13th, 2014 - Hansdeep Singh, Jaspreet Singh and Linda Raftree
Technology has huge potential to be used for social good. Mobiles and mapping software can be used to gather data, and visualise patterns and trends; predictive analytics can be used to help translate 'big data' into useful statistics; unmanned aerial vehicles can monitor real-time crises; and social media helps mobilise groups around the world.
thinkprogress.org - by Annie-Rose Strasser - June 28, 2014
The latest way that Facebook has been peeking into its users’ personal lives may be the most surprising yet: Facebook researches have published a scientific paper that reveals the company has been conducting psychological experiments on its users to manipulate their emotions.
The experiments sought to prove the phenomenon of “emotional contagion” — as in, whether you’ll be more happy if those in your Facebook news feed are.
Lawmakers need to ensure their new regulations do not run counter to the humanitarian imperative. Photograph: CorePhil/DSI
Drones are already a game-changer for disaster response
theguardian.com - by Patrick Meier - June 6, 2014
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) capture images faster, cheaper, and at a far higher resolution than satellite imagery. And as John DeRiggi speculates in "Drones for Development?" these attributes will likely lead to a host of applications in development work. In the humanitarian field that future is already upon us — so we need to take a rights-based approach to advance the discussion, improve coordination of UAV flights, and to promote regulation that will ensure safety while supporting innovation.
International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies
The World Disasters Report 2013 examines the profound impact of technological innovations on humanitarian action, how humanitarians employ technology in new and creative ways, and what risks and opportunities may emerge as a result of technological innovations.
The responsible use of technology offers concrete ways to make humanitarian assistance more effective, efficient and accountable and can, in turn, directly reduce vulnerability and strengthen resilience. Finding ways for advances in technology to serve the most vulnerable is a moral imperative; a responsibility, not a choice.
Published annually since 1993, the World Disasters Report brings together the latest trends, facts and analysis of contemporary catastrophes and their effect on vulnerable populations worldwide. Initiated by the International Federation of Red Cross Red Crescent Societies, it convenes eminent researchers, authors and development and humanitarian aid practitioners to highlight contemporary issues on a yearly basis.
Indian villagers stand on the breached embankment of a swollen river. The widespread use of technology played a huge role in preventing a large loss of life when cyclone Phailin hit the country. Photograph: AP
Technology can greatly enhance the ability of disaster-affected communities to help themselves, says world disasters report
theguardian.com - by Mark Tran October 17, 2013
Lack of access to information and technology has a major bearing on people's ability to prepare for, survive and recover from disasters, according to the 2013 world disasters report.
While new technologies greatly enhance the ability of disaster-affected communities to help themselves, the report, published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) in Geneva . . . says access to technology is deeply unequal. This digital divide is prominent in the most disaster-prone countries around the world.
The Doomsday scenario we should have been worrying about
theregister.co.uk - by Iain Thomson - March 19, 2014
Video - A new analysis of data from NASA's Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO) by Chinese and Berkeley helioboffins shows that a July 2012 solar storm of unprecedented size would have wiped out global electronic systems if it had occurred just nine days earlier.
"Had it hit Earth, it probably would have been like the big one in 1859, but the effect today, with our modern technologies, would have been tremendous," said UC Berkeley research physicist Janet Luhmann.
The 1859 storm, also known as the Carrington Event, after the British astronomer who recorded it, swept over the Earth at the end of August and is the largest recorded solar storm in history.