Date
2:10 pm—2:30 am · June 12, 2024
Room
Mary Ward Hall / Livestreamed
Many humanitarian organisations are turning to technological forms of engagement. The use of chatbots in particular, along with messaging tools to facilitate surveys and collect complaints, has been utilised to varying degrees of success in the sector. But poor deployment can lead to misaligned expectations about outcomes.

Longer description:

In the humanitarian sector the push for decolonisation and localisation has resulted in an increased focus on enabling participation from impacted communities. 

However, as humanitarian organisations are constrained by budget cuts and the threat of violence, many are turning to technologically enabled forms of engagement. The use of chatbots in particular, along with messaging tools to facilitate surveys and collect complaints, has been utilised to varying degrees of success in the sector. 

Quito discusses the experiences of practitioners and communities in East Africa, where chatbot and messaging app-based surveys are already being floated as a way to widen participation and facilitate civic engagement. 

However, the manner in which these tools are often deployed, with minimal community consultation, often leads to misunderstandings and in particular misaligned expectations about what kind of action feedback will result in. This divergence of expectation undermines the possible utility of participation.

The humanitarian sector is a space where impacted individuals are least able to have a say in decisions that impact them. As a result it contains the most acute lessons that must be heeded in broader discussion spaces. Often it is precisely these contexts where individuals are facing several modalities of marginalisation that the drawbacks of technology are most acute and observable.

Mapping and sharing context-specific results and concerns from places where these tools are already being deployed is critical knowledge in the face of heightened interest in technical tools for participation, else we risk losing the trust of the communities whose participation is most important.

Speakers

  • Quito Tsui (Research Consultant, UK)