Kirsten Gelsdorf to Advise Humanitarian Data Center in The Hague

As students at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy continue to gain quantitative data and analysis skills they are putting themselves in a cutting-edge category to make them more competitive in the global arena. One area where these skills may be useful is within the increased focus on the use of data and joint analysis in humanitarian crises settings.

The technological advances and the digital shifts that took place years ago in the private sector are only now beginning to take hold on a larger-scale in the humanitarian sector. How the humanitarian community handles the data revolution to inform decisions and save live will be a key determinant of its future effectiveness. Many aid agencies and government donors are now calling for new investments in this area and asking critical questions on the most effective way that data can be used in evidence based decision-making; how to better engage local populations and crisis affected communities in data collection; what should be the common standards for data to ensure aid workers can better share vital information on casualties, damage assessments, and infrastructure; how to prevent the threats that new data processes and technologies also present to individual security; and what are the best ways to support data visualization so aid workers and the public have access to critical facts and figures.

The Batten School’s new Director of Global Humanitarian Policy, Kirsten Gelsdorf has been invited to be a Senior Advisor to the development of new Humanitarian Data Center to be established in 2017 in The Hague, Netherlands. The Center’s mission will be to increase the use and impact of data in the humanitarian sector. The vision is to create a future where all people involved in a humanitarian situation have access to the data they need and to make responsible, informed decisions. The Center will focus on four areas: data services, data policy, data literacy and community engagement. Professor Gelsdorf will also engage in research together with the Center and work to build student experiences.

In order to engage partners early in the creation of the Center, Professor Gelsdorf worked with the United Nations to hold two design workshops: one partnering with Google in The Hague in October; and one with Frog, a strategy and design firm in New York in November.