We’re excited that Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, the Hon Julie Bishop MP and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, Senator the Hon. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells have announced the winners of the Pacific Humanitarian Challenge. With so many creative and relevant entries the final selection was not an easy job! Here they are:

  • Mobile SME Insurance in the Pacific Islands – BIMA Leapfrog
  • The Firetail: An Easily-Deployed Low-Cost Unmanned Aerial System – Firetail
  • Pacific Local Supplier Engagement Project – Australian Red Cross
  • Infrastructure-Independent Mobile Communications – Flinders University & New Zealand Red Cross
  • Pacific Drone Imagery Dashboard (PacDID) – Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

We started with 129 top class ideas which were selected down to 10. Then on March 29-31, these 10 teams participated in a design sprint in Canberra, where they worked with an expert advisory council to improve their ideas. From those 10 we selected our final 5 innovations.

Pacific Humanitarian Challenge Design Sprint from SecondMuse on Vimeo.

These 5 winning ideas will help communities, governments and humanitarian agencies to improve communications during a crisis, get relief to people more quickly, and help the people of the Pacific to bounce back after a disaster.  Over the next 18 months the teams will be piloting and implementing their ideas in the region.

Learn more about them here:

Mobile SME Insurance in the Pacific Islands – BIMA Leapfrog

PHC innovators -- BIMA leapfrog When disaster strikes, the burden to rebound and rebuild can be overwhelming. Fewer than five percent of Pacific Islanders are protected by insurance, which means that when disasters occur, people turn to their employer for help (e.g. a salary advance) which diverts capital that the company could otherwise invest into growth and development. The end result is that both the enterprises and employees face a risk of financial failure which can tip the community back into poverty. This innovative financial product, developed by BIMA Leapfrog working with Digicel, will improve financial resilience by using mobile phones to bring low-cost insurance to the employees of small and medium enterprises. The need and the market are there: it is expected that 160,000 families will register within 24 months, with the potential to reach over 800,000 people.

“Our idea was to create a route for local companies to access simple but powerful microinsurance products, offered in a way that would work easily for them. It is an innovative use of technology that offers a unique way for these enterprises to defend their business from financial shocks and provide a truly valuable benefit to their employees.” —BIMA Leapfrog team

The Firetail: An Easily-Deployed Low-Cost Unmanned Aerial System – Firetail

FiretailIn the wake of disasters, humanitarian responders struggle to get accurate and timely images to save lives and assist in early recovery. The Firetail is a low-cost and easy to use unmanned aerial system that can capture and produce a near real-time picture of the situation on the ground. This Australian designed and made product will help responders rapidly get the data they need to provide emergency relief to affected communities.

“To efficiently assist following a disaster, our solution offers a unique emergency response when compared to other competitors in the market. The Firetail is low-cost, easy to fly and Australian-made.” —Firetail team

Pacific Local Supplier Engagement Project – Australian Red Cross

Red Cross Cath Harris VanuatuThe private sector is often under-utilised in response to crises in the Pacific. The Australian Red Cross will work with private sector suppliers across the Pacific to dramatically increase their capacity to respond. This initiative will build and deploy a prototype agreement that leverages local businesses to meet humanitarian needs by identifying the right company to supply goods and services quickly at the right price. The potential impact of this project is a faster, better, cheaper response by creating the contracts and building the partnerships between humanitarian agencies and the private sector in the region before disasters strike. The initiative will also help to re-establish local markets after a crisis.

“We asked, ‘How do we rapidly scale up to run effective disaster relief programs in a logistically challenging region like the Pacific where the population is some of the most disaster-vulnerable in the world?’ The solution is by engaging with local suppliers of goods and services before a disaster strikes.” —Pacific Local Supplier Engagement Project team

Infrastructure-Independent Mobile Communications – Flinders University and New Zealand Red Cross

Accurate and rapid communications are crucial in a crisis, as this team learned after witnessing communications challenges following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake. As telecommunications infrastructure is often damaged or destroyed first in a disaster, communication can be the difference between saving and losing lives . It can take weeks to restore services to severely affected remote communities. This novel system, developed by Flinders University and the New Zealand Red Cross, will provide emergency communications by allowing smartphones to provide low cost, secure, cellular-like communications in the absence of cellular signal. Using this system, communities can report their immediate needs and rapidly establish contact with responders and families.

“Being named one of the top five, and receiving financial support from DFAT means that we can finally begin moving into a piloting phase, which for us marks the beginning of the process where people around the world will hopefully start to benefit from what we have been creating these past few years, and that in some way, we can therefore reduce human suffering.” —Infrastructure-Independent Mobile Communications team

Pacific Drone Imagery Dashboard (PacDID) – Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

PacDID (2)

Drones are transforming the way humanitarian responders, NGOs and communities collect imagery and assess need in the wake of disasters. However, this profusion of images can be overwhelming and more often than not remains underutilised or not used at all. Building on the successes of OpenAerialMap, PacDID seeks to meet this challenge and help realise the promise of drone imagery for the Pacific. It will build an open source online dashboard to provide a way to easily access, organise and compile imagery collected by drones in the wake of disasters and beyond.

“With the opportunity provided by this grant, we will work with the Pacific Community to create an open source platform to comprehensively display images collected by drones during disaster preparedness and response efforts. We are going to define guidelines and tools for humanitarian mapping with drones, that we hope will be adopted by governments and communities to improve rapid access to critical information.” —PacDID team

Curated photos and videos from the 2016 Pacific Humanitarian Challenge Design Sprint here: