Introducing the Humanitarian Data Science and Ethics Group (DSEG): Why Do We Need an Ethical Framework?

The Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW), co-chaired by OCHA and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), provides a unique forum for humanitarian networks and partnerships to meet and address key humanitarian issues. One of the largest humanitarian events of its kind, it gathers participants from the UN, NGOs, Member States, the private sector, the military, academia and beyond to discuss and solve common challenges in humanitarian affairs.

On the 3th of February Kate Dodgson (DSI) will be moderating a panel talk at HNPW in Geneva titled: Introducing the Humanitarian Data Science and Ethics Group (DSEG): Why Do We Need an Ethical Framework? on Data Science Ethics and as a soft launch for the DSEG Framework. Panelists will include other DSEG partners: UN-OCHA, UNHCR, International Committee of the Red Cross, JIPS and IOM (UN Migration).

Building on recent work and attention on ethical humanitarian data science, the Data Science and Ethics Group (DSEG) gathers key actors involved in data science and ethics to address the juncture between principles and practice. Initiated in June 2018, this inter-disciplinary group of actors seek to address the ethical, practical and technical issues as well as developing a human rights-based approach, behind humanitarian data science applications. While there are ethical considerations for the technical use of AI, there is a general lack of guidance on its humanitarian use. To practically address the different aspects of this new challenge, DSEG collaboratively discusses the opportunities and challenges that come with working innovatively in the humanitarian space.
This session will convene a mixed group of experts from UN-OCHA, ICRC, UNHCR, Data Science Initiative, UN Global Pulse, JIPS, WFP, OHCHR and IOM, whom will discuss the opportunities of applying data science methods to support humanitarian outcomes (to enable a proactive rather than reactive response), the challenges (e.g. data coverage and quality) and the ethical considerations (e.g. what if forecasting mobility leads to border closures).

This work highlights the balance between ensuring innovation and efficiency, along with ethical and safe processes. The session seeks to raise awareness and foster debate around the new and growing challenges of such initiatives with DSEG partners, and the wider humanitarian audience.