Throwbacks of the Singularity University Global Summit.


In August, Loek Peeters (one of our founders) went to the Singularity University (SU) summit in San Francisco. This was a gathering of over 1400 participant discussing how converging technologies can help humanity progress forward. The event was incredibly visionary and the type of out-of-the-box ideas we saw were enormously inspiring.


The idea behind SU Global Summit is; that if you get all these great ideas and thinkers together an acceleration of innovation can happen, which will help us move from scarcity to abundance.


This all sounds good, but how is it relevant to our work for humanitarian professionals?


We got selected for the Global Grand Challenge Awards. Which are part of the Singularity University’s 12 Global Grand Challenges tracks. These are focused on improving important issues, such as disaster resilience, energy, privacy, etc. The tracks were related to the SDG’s (Sustainable Development Goals) and if you want to read more about them you can have a look here at all 12 tracks.


They invited only 3 participants for each track and we were proud to be selected for Disaster Resilience. Which gave us the opportunity to show our initiative at the SU Global Summit EXPO.


Sounds interesting, but how can such an event help HumanSurge (HS)? Isn’t connecting humanitarian professionals to gaps in organizations straightforward?


It helped us to think differently about what we are doing. We want to grow, as our solution works best at-scale, but we don’t want to be just a platform. We are in a niche market, but there should be more that we, as HumanSurge, can do. Through networking with such innovative thinkers, we were forced to look at HS on a grander scale. There are more organizational needs in the humanitarian sector than just surge capacity. So how can we grow beyond our confines (or maybe within them) and assist better and/or in more efficient ways?


So what new ideas did the SU summit give you?


So many it’s hard to keep track. For example, can we replicate the existing informal connections among humanitarians? Building a trust-based network of responders.  How about crowd mobilization? Local responders are always first, but how can qualified volunteers be engaged in a meaningful way, or how can someone from abroad assist? Because people want to assist! Or, can we get more outsiders involved in knowledge exchanges? For example, linking to the private sector or with civil protection experts. Can we connect in real-time so that a (volunteer) fireman from Norway, on holiday in Greece, can be geo-localized and contacted by local authorities there to join the fight against raging wildfires?


But those are the grand ideas, short-term it may be interesting to look more into how we can speed up the hiring process of professionals, possibly venture more into background checks. Something we have already started. So, organizations and professionals don’t have to go through the same lengthy process over and over again. Perhaps we can also consider creating a platform for humanitarian research questions or proposal writing assignments. This way we can link people from across the world and they can work together remotely. We think such an idea can especially help local actors, organizations and professionals who are continuously on our mind because we want to help and accelerate the localization of the aid agenda?


But then we need to consider if (ex) humanitarians would welcome the opportunity to write proposals for local NGOs who seek funding from a Western donor or from country pooled-funds? Should that be pro-bono, compensated, or a mix? Can this even be done remotely? Most of all, do local NGOs seek such support? These are questions I would also like to ask the professionals in our platform. And, in relation to that, we are going to dedicate some blogs to it and we are also going to be sending out some questions.


In the meantime, if you already have some comments, ideas or questions, please drop us a line below

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