Engineering for Humanitarian Innovation

Aid in the 21st century is not efficient. Items, even buckets are flown half way around the world to reach the location of a humanitarian crisis. As we face into a future of ever increasing natural and humanitarian disasters, it is imperative that aid can be delivered quickly where, when and how it is needed. Field Ready is pioneering a local networked approach to manufacturing which means aid can be delivered faster and cheaper, while creating local jobs and supporting local economies. EWB Ireland and the DTC Research Group work closely with Field Ready to support rapid response initiatives. 

In this section, we include segments of a talk delivered by Andrew Lamb, Global Innovation Lead at Field Ready who discusses Field Ready’s projects throughout Asia and the Middle East. We also include the full recording of Andrew’s talk and workshop with participants, where he encourages people to reflect on the power dynamics at play in international development and humanitarian aid through a simple game.

Engineering Emergence

We are living in a complex, interconnected world. Our solutions need to reflect this: engineers and indeed all professionals in the 21st century need to move away from linear thinking. We need to create the conditions for solutions to emerge. Local capacity to solve local problems is key.

Creating Local Networked Manufacturing

60-80% of aid income is spent on logistics, that’s $10-15 billion per year. Disasters create huge logistical challenges but there are always local capabilities. Andrew discusses how Field Ready is working with communities around the world affected by disasters to build capacity so local people can manage their own response.

Local Networked Manufacturing in Action

Andrew gives the example of Field Ready’s work on the island of Ambae in Vanuatu, working with a local hardware store to find a solution for people evacuated due to a volcanic eruption. He discusses the importance of really understanding what people are looking for: do you know what is really required in the situation? If not, you could be looking for a solution for the wrong specification.

Training Local People, Innovating for Disaster Response

Heavy lift air bags have the capacity to save countless lives. Andrew discusses how Field Ready deployed these in Syria with a local engineer, training the local community on how to use the device.

  • If you’re interested in checking out the full recording of Andrew’s talk, including a workshop with EWB conference attendees, you can view it here

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