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Location-Based Data in Crisis Situations



This document is the product of three workshops hosted by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington, D.C. in 2016 and 2017. Participants in the workshops came from academia, civil society, government, industry, international non-governmental and multilateral organizations, and professional scientific societies. Their aim was to address the ethical issues associated with rapid growth in the use of location-based data such as remotely-sensed imagery, geotagged social media posts, and electronic communications records by crisis response actors.

Purpose and Scope

Data relating to the location of infrastructure, resources, and people can have positive and negative applications. In all circumstances, there are potential risks and benefits associated with collecting, aggregating, representing, using, and storing such data. In the context of crises, however, the nature and significance of the risks and benefits will differ from a non-crisis context. The following principles and guidelines aim to fill a gap in ethical guidance for the generation, collection, analysis, dissemination, and use of location-based data in crisis situations.

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Jessica Wyndham

Program Director

Ellen Platts

Jonathan Drake

Senior Program Associate


Jonathan Drake

Senior Program Associate

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