Call for Proposals – Critical Perspectives on Disaster Data


Data and information and communication technologies (ICTs) are central to how we understand disaster risks and impacts. Technologies and approaches ranging from crowdsourcing to drones to artificial intelligence are reshaping societal relationships to disaster, changing what we can know about them and the kinds of responses we can imagine. We know that these changes aren’t neutral. Decisions about what data to collect, how to collect it, how to analyze it, and how to share the results are expressions of politics and values as much as they are technical and practical. Yet we understand little about the consequences of these decisions for who and what receives protection from disasters, or assistance in their aftermath. An emerging area of interdisciplinary research is beginning to explore these questions in ways that develop a robust understanding of current practice and explore alternatives.

This call is designed to support early-career and non-academic researchers. Available funds will award up to 6 submissions at the level of $2,500 US each. Successful proposals will describe compelling research projects that offer fresh perspectives on the data and ICTs used to understand and respond to disasters and climate change. 

Examples of Relevant Topics

  • Promises and limits of participation – What do participatory practices, considered broadly to include crowdsourcing, citizen science, counter-mapping, participatory design, and action research, offer to expand the range of worldviews and imaginaries that are included in the design of disaster data.
  • Historical research – How can understanding the historical lineage of current data standards, technologies, and practices inform contemporary debates or expand our perspectives?
  • Uncertainty – Uncertainty is a central problem in disaster and climate data, but often narrowly conceived. How might we draw on recent work in the humanities and social sciences to better evaluate and cope with current challenges?
  • Decolonizing disaster studies – How might current approaches to disaster data relate to efforts to decolonize disaster studies?
  • Speculative & critical design – How can speculative and other critical design practices help to raise questions about current practices and imagine alternatives?

Eligibility & Award Requirements

We are specifically seeking to recognise late-stage PhD students from any discipline, early-career academics, and researchers in non-academic positions. Applicants from diverse backgrounds are encouraged. Awarded researchers will present the results of their work as part of an online symposium in mid 2021.

Submission Requirements

Short proposals should be submitted online by 12:00am on 12/09/2020 (Dec 09, 2020) AoT here:

How the Funding Will be Issued

Selected submissions will receive direct payment from the fiscal sponsor of this grant, the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT). Awardees are responsible for any tax implications of these awards. Payment arrangements must be finalized by 12/21/2020.

Further Questions