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Digital Technologies for Resilience in Asia-Pacific

By Josh Woodard on June 26, 2017

Digtial Technology For Resiliance

We live in an increasingly volatile and uncertain world. The risks to much of the world’s population that stem from climatic, political, and economic fluctuations have played out again and again in recent years on pretty much every continent.

While emergency response and humanitarian aid still have a role to play, there has also been increased interest in the development community around building the resilience of individuals, communities and systems to not only survive these shocks and stresses, but to adapt to them and bounce back to an even better state.

The breadth and depth of what it means to be resilient is such that there is no single solution. It is highly dependent on the population in question, the risks they face, local infrastructure and resources, and any number of other factors. However, one common thread that has the potential to facilitate increased resilience is digital technology.

Resilience-Relevant Digital Technologies

Despite this potential, there is not a lot of easily accessible information available on what resilience-relevant digital technologies exist and how they might help. Through a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, FHI 360 is helping to uncover and make available information on many of these solutions.

Our recently launched Digital Technologies for Resilience Inventory contains more than 100 entries of technologies that are being used to enhance the resilience of individuals, families, communities, businesses, and/or governments. While we primarily focused on examples from Asia-Pacific, the inventory includes entries from around the world.

As can be expected, many of the examples take advantage of mobile phones, although perhaps surprisingly given that GSMA puts smartphone ownership in developing economies at just under 50%, we found more apps than those using old school text and voice functions, such as SMS and IVR.

Significant numbers were also using geospatial and ground sensor data, which are particularly relevant to climate resilience efforts. Linked to this, big data analytics are also being deployed by a smaller subset of the submissions.

While many of the entries make use of digital technologies that have been around for years, a handful are testing emerging technologies, like Internet of Things, UAVs, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing.

You can dig through the summary findings and the specifics of each digital technology using either the Google Sheet or PDF version of the Digital Technologies for Resilience Inventory.

In addition, this November, we will be further exploring how digital technologies can support resilience through a two-day interactive workshop in Bangkok, which will bring together technology implementers, resilience practitioners, investors and donors. If you’re interested in being part of the conversation, let us know.

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Josh Woodard is a Regional ICT & Digital Finance Specialist at FHI 360 and regularly publishes on LinkedIn. His views do not necessarily represent those of his employer or its project funders.
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2 Comments to “Digital Technologies for Resilience in Asia-Pacific”

  1. Timo Luege says:

    I have to say I’m a bit disappointed by this document and the spreadsheet. It’s basically a technology tool dump that relies entirely on what the technology providers say their tools can do. In my experience, that information is routinely exaggerated. What’s more, the data in the spreadsheet is really messy, which makes it very hard to filter. Some respondents named the countries they are active in, while others named regions, etc.. The least I would have expected is a clean database so that I can easily find solutions that I’m interested in. I think that’s too bad.

    • Josh says:

      Sorry to hear about your disappointment, Timo. I certainly agree that providers are not the best sources of unbiased information, which is why we tried to very clearly caveat that point. The reality is that to do proper due diligence on more than 100 technologies would not have been possible given our scope. This inventory is meant to be a starting point to give practitioners an idea of examples of tech for resilience. It is not meant to be used to simply pick a technology to use without doing your own additional research first. However, we will be doing due diligence on a subset of the entries and will likely be sharing resources associated with that in case they might be of use to others so that they can do their own due diligence. As for the Google Sheet, if you have any suggestions for how we can make it better suit your needs given the limitations of Google Sheets itself, please do share.