The Digital Helping the Humanitarian: Geographic Information Systems and the Promise of AI

The integration of emerging digital technologies in the humanitarian sector addresses critical information needs. Expectations are high that these technologies will improve humanitarian work through geographic information systems (GIS), machine learning, and artificial intelligence techniques on large data sets. In partnership with Doctors Without Borders, this project seeks to develop an analysis and evaluation framework for a geographic information system that uses artificial intelligence techniques to improve data extraction and field-based humanitarian action. The project objectives are as follows: (1) Analyze humanitarian workers’ expectations of the geographic information system under development and, more generally, artificial intelligence techniques.; (2) Evaluate the quality of the system-generated information; (3) Assess the system’s ethical standards. The analytical framework rests on social epistemology and ethnographic approaches combined with ethical considerations.


François Claveau, professor in the Department of Philosophy and Applied Ethics at the University of Sherbrooke, heads the project (SSHRC Partnership Engage Grants, 2019–2020). Florence Millerand participates as a co-investigator with Sébastien Gambs as a collaborator and Guillaume Dandurand as a postdoctoral researcher.

This content has been updated on 18 March 2022 at 16 h 26 min.