HNPW Session: Peer pressure: how digital democratization is transforming communication as aid
Today, refugees have smart phones. Disaster survivors can markthemselves safe on an app. Conflict is livestreamed on YouTube. Messages, hashtags, images and videos shared by response survivors can gain traction in minutes drastically shaping people’s perception of a context and their response to it. The traditional vertical humanitarian communications structure israpidly being replaced by a horizontal model in which local, digitalpeer-to-peer channels consistently outperform institution-led messaging interms of both receptivity and trust.
The advantages of this fast-changing communications environment are many: we can scale up communications rapidly, engage vast numbers of people, and everything is in real-time. And yet, messages that travel fastest through digital environments exploit the human brain's attraction to divisiveness and such divisiveness in environments that are already high-pressured and fraught seem set to make the humanitarian endeavour harder.
The widening access to digital communication channels means humanitarians are no longer gatekeepers of information - while still being the gatekeepers of aid.
So, what does Communication is Aid look like when the affected population is not a communications monolith? Is this a communications catastrophe waiting to happen? Or localization in action? Why are we failing toheed and utilise horizontal communication?
- Anasuya Sengupta: Founder of Whose Knowledge?
- Connie Moon Sehat: Director Hacks/Hackers; Senior Fellow, World Economic Forum
- Nancy Groves: Chief of Digital Strategy, UNEP
- Irene Scott: Global Project Director, COVID-19 Rooted in Trust, Internews