School of Art, Media, and Technology

AMT Lecture: Global Innovation and Local Talent: The UNICEF Innovation Unit

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UNICEF’s Tech4Dev teams work closely with private sector and academia to create open-source scalable solutions to some of the world’s most challenging problems. These solutions (which often, simply, use the magic of technology to create faster paper) are built with end users in some of the most difficult operational environments on the planet. Recent successes have RapidFTR – a tool that uses mobile devices to register unaccompanied children and reunite them with their families after disasters and RapidSMS – an open-source platform for developing enterprise, national scale mobile data collection systems. Recent failures have included a prototype emergency information kiosk and a partnership to collect stories from children using mobile phones. Based on some of these successes and failures, this discussion will examine how to realistically and authentically engage the global technical community (developers, engineers, designers, etc.) in the challenges of international development and how to ensure that those engagements create the next generation of hackers, thinkers and builders in the places where their skills are most needed.

Christopher Fabian is the co-lead of UNICEF’s Innovation Unit in NY. The Innovation Unit focuses on how technology for development can benefit the organization and improve the lives of children. The work done by the team in New York is thematically centered around Health, Education, Child Protection and Nutrition. Operationally the team looks at everything from uses of new and existing technologies to improve UNICEF’s work in the field to new types of partnerships for engaging external thinkers in developing solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. The group works exclusively with scalable, adaptable open-source technologies and ensures that local capacity and technical knowledge-building “in country” is a priority in every prototype and engagement.

Thursday, October 6
6 East 16th Street, Room 1200
free, first come first served

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