Ryan Burns wins UN OCHA grant

UW Geography PhD student Ryan Burns was recently honored with a research grant from the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The grant, called the Research and Innovation Grant, will allow Ryan, in collaboration with Tillburg University PhD student Kenny Meesters, to develop an evaluation framework for digital humanitarian projects. With the growing importance of social media and crowdsourcing technologies like Ushahidi, OpenStreetMap, and the Standby Task Force, to humanitarian management, the formal humanitarian sector needs to develop metrics for understanding the impacts of these technologies on their operations. This evaluation framework will guide the formal humanitarian agencies through questions that arise in every digital humanitarian project: Did crowdsourcing lead to better decision-making practices? Did it divert resources inefficiently? How should they adjust the technologies in future projects? Perhaps most importantly, the evaluation framework will be usable in real time, allowing incremental adjustments rather than just after-action evaluation. Way to go, Ryan!

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