NetHope Global Summit 2016

NetHope Global Summit 2016

Posted on November 16, 2016 by Michael Corley, consultant with The Patterson Foundation

I had the pleasure of recently attending the NetHope Global Summit in Atlanta, Georgia (#NHSummit16).  NetHope has been a partner of TPF for the past six years and is the organization with whom TPF partners to provide its support of international disasters.

As a reminder, NetHope is a membership organization comprising 50 very large, international NGOs.  NetHope works to provide information and technology services, education, equipment, and expertise to its members.  NetHope, its members, and its corporate supporters (think CISCO, Google, Intel, etc.) believe there is a tremendous opportunity to use technology and data to improve the work being done to improve the lives of so many around the world.

Over the past 6 months, TPF has worked with NetHope to help provide internet access to the refugees traveling into Europe.  The work NetHope and its members have done, and continue to do in Europe, was a major topic of discussion at the Summit.  It was through this work that the importance of having internet connectivity became apparent.  The first question refugees often ask when entering a refugee camp is, “Do you have wifi?”

“Having WIFI is every bit as important as having food, shelter, and medicine.” Isaac Kwamy

The cell phone and its capabilities have become such an integral part of our lives, of the lives of everyone around the world, that not having connectivity to the internet because of a lack of wifi is debilitating.  For refugees, it is debilitating because it gives them no contact with family and friends scattered among camps.  It is debilitating because often times internet access is necessary in order to apply for asylum.

It is because of this need for wifi access that NetHope deployed to Greece on multiple occasions over the past 6 months.  As a result, 400,000 people have regular access to the internet and are able to connect with family members, attend online schools, learn the local language, keep abreast of news, and work to improve their lives.

This was the background for much of the discussion at the Global Summit – that technology is playing an increasingly more important and opportunistic role in addressing social issues around the world.

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