Approx. 3 minute reading time

3 min

Digital technologies and artificial intelligence are transforming the way people and organizations function in both the physical and virtual worlds.

Digitalization is also altering the way states, armed groups, and other actors interact with populations, protect or restrict their fundamental rights, manage security, and conduct warfare. This change extends to humanitarian action, particularly in relation to the digital dimensions of protection, trust, and privacy.

Equipping the ICRC for digital transformation

To seize the opportunity technological progress offers and mitigate the risks it carries, in 2018, the ICRC embarked on an ambitious plan to transform and adapt our humanitarian response.

We met with Charlotte Lindsey Curtet, Director of the Office of Digital Transformation and Data. In this two minute video, she answers some of our burning questions: Why is the ICRC embarking on this digital transformation? How is it changing the approach to humanitarian action, for instance in protection? What makes the ICRC particularly innovative in that space? What are some of the priorities of the ICRC’s digital transformation process?


Leveraging emerging technologies

One technology the ICRC is paying attention to is Artificial Intelligence (AI). Several techniques coming from the AI field are currently being explored to improve the ICRC’s capacity to solve missing persons cases. For example, facial recognition can be used to accelerate the matching of pictures provided by people looking for their relatives; Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms can help reconciliate a list of names, often in different languages using different alphabets and spellings. Applying these techniques to a large amount of data will help colleagues in the field to narrow down their research and, hopefully, reunite more families separated by conflict.

While digitalization efforts are leveraging different technologies, they all share the ultimate goal of strengthening the ICRC’s capacity to respond to the needs of affected people and communities.