The Internet, Policy & Politics Conferences

Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Elizabeth Resor: The Neo-Humanitarians: Assessing the Credibility of Organized Volunteer Crisis Mappers

Volunteer crisis mappers are a recent phenomenon driven by technological advances, online communities, and volunteerism. With the rise of interactive websites, social media, and online mapping tools, individuals across the world are able to collectively participate in collecting data in response to a crisis. Although these volunteers provide needed technical assistance to humanitarian efforts, their lack of affiliation with ‘formal’ actors, such as the United Nations and the International Committee of the Red Cross, and the very fact that they are volunteers, makes them a dubious data source. Concerns about the quality of amateur mapping and data efforts are raised in the neogeography literature, while questions related to the use of data and new technology have come out in several recent publications by humanitarian actors. Most of these concerns and criticisms assume that volunteers have no professional training related to their work as volunteers; it is suspected that the work they produce does not conform to professional and ethical standards.

Elizabeth Resor