Digital Humanitarians


After the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, thousands of digital volunteers mobilized online to support search and rescue efforts and human relief operations on the ground. These digital humanitarians used crowdsourcing to make sense of social media, text messages and satellite imagery, creating unique digital crisis maps that reflected the situation on the ground in near real-time.

In his new book, Digital Humanitarians, Meier recounts this story and others that have followed. The book charts the sudden and spectacular rise of Digital Humanitarians by sharing their remarkable, real-life stories, highlighting how their humanity coupled with innovative solutions to Big Data is changing humanitarian response forever. It discusses humanitarian response to massive forest fires in Russia and traces the evolution of digital humanitarians through subsequent digital deployments in Libya and the Philippines and beyond.

New America is pleased to welcome Mr. Meier for a discussion about his new book, crowd-sourced analysis of drones and satellite imagery, and the use of artificial intelligence techniques to analyze text and data.

Follow the discussion online using #DigitalJedis and by following @NatsecNAF.

Copies of the book will be available for sale at the event. 


Patrick Meier
Director, Social Innovation, QCRI
Author, Digital Humanitarians: How Big Data is Changing the Face of Humanitarian Response

Konstantin Kakaes
Fellow, International Security Program, New America