Since its creation in 1863 in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has one objective: to ensure protection and assistance for victims of armed conflict and other situations of violence. Its story is one of impartiality and neutrality in the development of humanitarian action. As the guardian of the Geneva Conventions—and in partnership with the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement—the ICRC provides humanitarian support in more than 80 countries around the globe. Since its founding 150-plus years ago, the ICRC has moved from its early days of records of prisoners of war on carefully catalogued, handwritten index cards—in order to provide answers to family members—to an organization in the midst of a technology transformation.
What are the ICRC’s considerations when it comes to emerging information technology policies and legal requirements meant to protect vulnerable communities from misuse of data and cyber security issues? How is its technology impacted by the limitations of low-bandwidth environments while managing systems to support thousands of professional staff? How does a global organization–in this case, one that assists those affected by war and other situations of violence–provide digital engagement as well as its traditional, hands-on, frontline humanitarian response? The ICRC takes a future-focused and outward-looking approach, which will be the focus of this talk.
As the director of communication and information management for ICRC, Jennifer Hauseman is responsible for the organization’s technology, including everything from software development to online campaigns to the digitization of its storied archives. The talk will also discuss the realities of creating effective technologies in some of the most challenging environments in the world, and what considerations should come into play for any policymaker wanting to create a service or system designed to protect the most vulnerable.
Jennifer Hauseman is the director of communication and information management for the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC). Jennifer joined the ICRC first as head of digital communications and now in her current role since July 2018. Prior to joining the ICRC, she was a deputy director for communications at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and was a manager, programmer and senior editor at Amazon.com.