The enduring humanitarian crisis in the Middle East, the unrelenting high levels of violence in Syria and new outbursts of violence in Yemen have made the work of humanitarian aid workers full of danger. In 2000 41 significant attacks on aid workers were recorded across the globe. By 2014, that number had risen to 190. In this 15-year period, over 3,000 aid workers have been killed, injured or kidnapped. Despite the increasing availability of tracking and monitoring technologies, the number of humanitarian workers that fall victim to attacks continues to rise. Clearly, a novel and innovative approach to tracking and decision-making was needed. The EC awarded funding to 12 partners making up the iTRACK consortium to develop a solution.
Based on principles of Privacy by Design, this project aims to build the iTRACK system, an integrated intelligent real-time tracking and threat identification system to improve the protection of responders and assets and provide information management and logistics services such as real-time information updates and analyses as well as navigation, routing and scheduling. iTRACK will achieve this through an interdisciplinary, socio-technical approach, which will draw on the latest advances in sensor development, GIS, security & privacy, artificial intelligence, information management, risk analysis, and humanitarian logistics.
The iTRACK solution requires end-users to give up personal information related to identity, place, and their habits. The compensation for all of this is their safety on a mission. However, even a technology that can save lives needs to be controlled particularly from the point of view of ethics, privacy and data protection. To that end, TRI is responsible for the iTRACK privacy and ethical impact assessment (in Work Package 3), including an examination of issues relating to data protection, and socio-cultural considerations for future developments in this area. In addition, TRI is responsible for implementing Research Ethical Requirements and monitoring the same (in Work Package 1). Both work packages draw on TRI’s extensive experience and expertise in ethical conduct involving human subjects and well as undertaking impact assessments.
iTRACK will improve the protection and safety of humanitarian missions with intelligent socio-technical solutions to support tracking, threat detection, navigation, logistics, and coordination in humanitarian disasters. iTRACK is designed to be a cost-effective open-source system, supporting organisations although resources may be limited. To further facilitate its uptake by humanitarian organisations operating in conflict and complex disasters missions, we co-designed the technology and policies with humanitarian practitioners with pilot applications with the World Food Programme and iMMAP in on-going conflict disasters in the Middle East.
For more information and updates visit the iTRACK project website, Twitter and LinkedIn.