International humanitarian relief organisations such as AUSTCARE, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) have increasingly moved towards technology adoption as a means of enabling more effective management of complex refugee relief crises. Currently however, a fragmented, multi-layered approach exists in regards to technology-enabled humanitarian relief. This thesis offers a solution to overcome current disparate approaches through developing the Digital Aid Framework; an encapsulated, end-to-end, technology integration platform for future refugee relief interventions. The framework consists of three modules; Planning, Implementation and Evaluation and is ‘wrapped’ within an ‘External Considerations’ layer where Non Government Organisations (NGO) codes of conduct and relief guidelines drive the framework development process. Distinctive features of the proposed framework are its use of illustrated indicative examples of IT&T deployment within a refugee relief context and its ‘Internet-centric’ design; allowing relief organisations and personnel to take advantage of Internet protocols to communicate, manage information and work remotely with global reach and high transmission speeds over the web. A descriptive study methodology and online questionnaire, targeted towards international relief organisations, determine the current state of technology-enabled relief and provide a process to evaluate and validate the framework. Primary focus is given to the Kosovo crisis (1998-99) due to this theatre being the first instance of a complete technology-enabled refugee relief cycle for emergent socio-political humanitarian crises. It is this technology-enabled relief cycle which forms the basis for the core objective of this research; developing a conceptual framework comprised of suitable, feasible and adaptable technology applications which support refugee and Internally Displaced Person (IDP) operations through each stage of the cycle. Other objectives attempt to determine if technology adoption by relief agencies has been experiential in nature (i.e. learning by doing), strategically implemented or through a hybrid approach and suggesting appropriate/ feasible IT&T solutions for a number of situations where the literature review has indicated inadequacies. Technology applications such as biometric identification, geographical information systems (GIS) and magnetic stripe/ integrated circuit 'smart cards', among others, are examined in the course of this research for their potentially supportive role within the context of future relief interventions. It is envisaged this framework may be subsequently extended to all types of disaster relief scenarios.
Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.