By Lauren Woodman, NetHope CEO

It’s Wednesday at the NetHope Global Summit — the day after election day in the U.S. We had more than a few bleary-eyed attendees who’d stayed up late to watch returns, but our morning speakers did a terrific job of bringing us back to our missions. 

Elizabeth Mynatt, Executive Director at Georgia Tech’s Institute for People and Technology, presented the incredible work and research her team is doing, including humanitarian systems powered by social media, wearable tech that lets service animals communicate, and augmented reality systems that let users explore alternate viewpoints and bias. 

We also heard about “Fixing the Internet of Broken Things in Global Health,” from Evan Thomas. Thomas is an associate professor at Portland State University, and director of the Sweet (Sustainable Water, Energy and Environmental Technologies) Lab, which has created some truly creative programs to measure the impact of technologies in the field. 

For instance, SweetLab developed cellular, network-based remotely reporting systems to record the performance and use of cook stoves and water filters given to 25 percent of the poorest families in Rwanda. The sensors monitor and reinforce healthy behavior change and adaptive programming, Dr. Thomas said.

Snehal Antani, CTO of Splunk, started his talk with a story of being on the London Tube in the middle of a stampeding crowd. There were sensors to detect whether there was real danger, he pointed out, but there was a failure to connect the dots. “We need to effectively listen to the data … to collect, synthesize and take action the allows us to fundamentally transform and disrupt how we respond to crises,” he said. “The data tells a story.”
I then moderated a panel which consisted of Michael Duggan, a NetHope board member and CIO of Trócaire; Greg Snow, Global IT Architecture and Innovation Director of Save the Children; and Jean-Louis Ecochard, VP and CIO for the Nature Conservancy. The panel presented a draft of the NGO Reference Model, a process that began two years ago, and is meant to guide organizations toward digital transformation. Michael said that the tool is being used with great success at his organization, and is viewed as a crucial intermediate step toward a fully digital toolbox. 

This afternoon, we took a break and attended tours of either the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library or the Georgia Tech Campus, which included a peek at some of the amazing innovations Beth outlined in her morning talk. Shortly, we’ll come together for our NetHope Community Celebration at the Center for Civil and Human Rights. After this long day, I’m looking very forward to being with our members and partners in a profoundly moving and inspirational setting. 

Filed Under: From the CEO, Global Summits