Louise Bloom: Humanitarian innovation must put end user needs first
- 20 August 2014
- Media coverage
Louise Bloom comments on how two new flying cars – and high-tech innovations more generally – are being marketed to the humanitarian sector
A recent SciDev.net article, 'Will flying cars for humanitarian aid take off?', describes the efforts of The Indigenous People's Technology and Education Center (I-TEC) and the French start-up Vaylon to market a flying car to the aid sector, which they believe will offer a variety of uses for humanitarian assistance. Vaylon's model, the Pégase, was presented at the Humanitarian Innovation Conference earlier this summer, and I-TEC's model, The Maverick, is now on the market.
However, it remains to be seen whether the aid sector adopts the flying car on a wide scale. While The Maverick was created in response to the needs of Ecuadorian rainforest communities, the makers of Pégase are targeting the military and leisure markets, as well as humanitarian organisations. In the article, Louise Bloom questions whether this is part of a wider trend in which companies look for aid sector problems to fit a finished product:
By not involving the humanitarian sector or affected communities in the design process, some products fail to address well-defined needs or market gaps, and can be inappropriate to the context in which they will be used...Cost is often another issue within the humanitarian sector; lots of high-tech products come at a high cost without a clear plan of how they can...be good value for money for the sector.