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Frequently Asked Questions

Why is HumaniNet important?
The need for reliable communications and information sharing among humanitarian relief teams and organizations in the field is severe and worsening, as the number of responses to natural disasters, wars, civil conflict, and displaced populations increases. Relief and aid workers lack basic communication tools that are needed to coordinate action in complex international emergencies. This degrades their ability to assess the situation, communicate needs, ship the right supplies to the right place, provide medical and health assistance, and provide basic security for field personnel.

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Isn't this need already being addressed?
There are many initiatives and studies that have examined this problem, and there are some very successful projects that are limited to specific locations or solutions. However, we have found no initiative that is currently:

  • Providing practical assistance to a broad spectrum of humanitarian NGOs and teams, including smaller organizations,
  • Helping these teams to find affordable, reliable communications in any geography,
  • Enabling the exchange of useful information among NGOs and field teams,
  • Working with qualified service providers to determine which information and communications technologies (ICT) will result in the greatest efficiencies and economies, and
  • Utilizing the skills and time of experienced technology volunteers.

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How does a nonprofit organization join the HumaniNet network?
Any nonprofit humanitarian or mission organization that endorses accepted principles of humanitarian work is invited to contact HumaniNet to discuss participation. As an informal alliance of nonprofit organizations, we do not have membership criteria or membership fees. We simply ask that in exchange for our assistance, participating organizations share their observations and field results in global information and communication technologies, or ICT.

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What form does this assistance take?

  • We offer considerable information on communications and other subjects on our ICT Information Service. This is our recommended "first stop" for people who have questions or need assistance. It is open to all viewers, and it is free.
  • Our e-newsletter, the Global ICT eUpdate, alerts subscribers to new developments, best practices, and opportunities for better cost effectiveness. We publish the eUpdate every 4-6 weeks. It will alert you to new technology developments that are important to humanitarian and mission organizations. Simply email us at info@humaninet.org and write "Subscribe" (one word only) in the subject line.
  • We provide information and consultation by email and phone, on a limited basis, at no cost. Send inquiries to info@humaninet.org.
  • For specific inquiries requiring research and analysis beyond our standard time allocation for responses, we will discuss a defined project at discounted rates. These projects may be as small as two hours for limited research, to several days for more extensive analysis.

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Can HumaniNet help me find the right satellite phone or portable email solution for remote areas?
Yes. Our ICT Information Service is the best place to start. If you still have questions, email us at info@humaninet.org or call 503-957-2960.

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Does HumaniNet conduct installations of satellite systems?
No. We are an information-driven initiative, and we do not have the resources to install VSAT systems or similar communications systems. However, we have technology partners, both for-profit and nonprofit, who have excellent experience in this area. We would be happy to introduce you to them.

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Are new volunteers needed in the work of HumaniNet?
Yes. We welcome inquiries from individuals who are willing to commit time and talent to our projects.  Please click here to see volunteer opportunities.

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Will HumaniNet form partnerships with technology companies and other businesses?
Yes. HumaniNet seeks these partnerships. We understand that communications and information management technology is dynamic and complex and that NGOs are not staffed or resourced to keep up with trends, services, and products. Participation of businesses and technology experts is vitally important to this initiative. We think of these partnerships as an "active reserve" of dedicated people who want to help alleviate the serious conditions that afflict populations in crisis.

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How did HumaniNet begin?
In 2001, in response to the September 11 attacks and the humanitarian work beginning in Afghanistan, a group of volunteers from the technology sector formed a Task Force to support Northwest Medical Teams, in Portland, Oregon, with several communications and Web projects. These volunteers, led by the Director of Technology at Northwest Medical Teams, realized that the work they were doing should be leveraged to other humanitarian NGOs. To plan and structure this model of shared information and services, HumaniNet was formed under Northwest Medical Teams' sponsorship. In October of 2002, HumaniNet began to pursue a broader strategy and establish a new organization under the sponsorship of several NGOs.

For more information, please see www.humaninet.org or email info@humaninet.org.

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