Expanding use of information and communication technology (ICT) together with the humanitarian reform agenda are changing both the experience of being a refugee as well as humanitarian response. These forces are giving rise to the digital refugee and a new form of humanitarian operations, digital humanitarian brokerage. In this talk, Carleen Maitland presents these two concepts, evidence of their emergence and differences in the role information plays in each. The concepts emerge from a synthesis of scholarship from international law, information and organization science, GIS, computer and data science as presented in her upcoming edited volume Digital Lifeline? ICTs for Refugees and Displaced Persons. The talk culminates in an analysis of the implications of these trends for information policy as well as the research necessary to insure both technologies and policies evolve to mitigate potential harms and amplify potential benefits for refugees.
Carleen Maitland is co-Director of the Institute for Information Policy and Associate Professor in the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State University. Her expertise includes analyses of ICT use in international organizations, particularly those involved in fostering economic and social development as well as humanitarian relief. Her work, reported in over 100 refereed journal articles, conference proceedings, and presentations, has influenced scholarship in the fields of Information and Communication Technologies for Development (ICTD), communications, information systems and human computer interaction fields. Her work is supported by the National Science Foundation, USAID, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and IBM, among others. She has held several leadership positions in both the ICTD and policy communities, currently serves as Associate Editor of the open access journal Information Technology & International Development (USC Annenberg Press). Also, from 2010-2012 she served as a Program Manager in the U.S. National Science Foundation, both in the Office of International Science and Engineering and the Office of Cyberinfrastructure.