Jasper Meijering is a master thesis student at 510 and TU Delft’s Humanitarian Technology Lab. At TU Delft he follows the Engineering and Policy Analysis program.
1: Where did you hear of the 510 team?
In my first years of study, the humanitarian sector was pretty much off the radar for me. This ended when I heard my professor Bartel van de Walle speak at a conference. What I took away from his talk is that many developments you see in current day societal challenges – such as data protection – are also faced in the humanitarian sector, with one difference: the impact is bigger.
In a same way, I also came across 510 presenting how they used machine learning techniques to predict damage to houses after a hurricane. What I liked right away from 510 was that they not only come up with ideas but also have a talented team to put products, services and new insights deduced from these ideas into practice.
2: How are you incorporating your area of study?
Before starting with my thesis project, I spent some time at 510 exploring research topics. In my second week, hurricane Irma hit Sint Maarten putting the agenda of the whole 510-team upside down. This was when I saw first-hand, the importance of making sure the best available information is in the hand of the right people.
In my masters, I use modeling and simulation techniques for policy analysis. One part of my study is grabbing a problem and translating it into a computer model. Another part of it is thinking of the political and moral implications of these translations and how your outcomes can be more effective in the messy world of policy making. For my research project I use both parts to evaluate strategies aimed at increasing data sharing between organisations in complex disaster. For 510 it is interesting to better understand how data and data products spread in a disaster. Both to gather better quality data for the 510 tools and to better align the 510 products with the needs of the organisastions and individuals that use them. For my research I collaborate with Heleen Elenbaas. After finishing her thesis project at 510, Heleen is now deployed as information manager in Bangladesh.
3: Who else would you like to see join 510?
In general, I think that it is very beneficial for technical students to see how technical tools or solutions work outside an academical setting. Likewise, I also think that it can be very interesting for someone in a study related to e.g. humanitarian aid to learn how technical developments change the sector. If you are someone that wants to bring your skills into practice, cross disciplinary borders by learning from others then there are many challenges you can work on.