The Citizen Lab is pleased to announce the Doctoral Award received by Citizen Lab Doctoral Fellow Jennie Phillips from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC).

Phillips’ proposal introduces the concept of Volunteer Technical Communities (VTCs) that, similar to online communities like Wikipedia, are global networks skilled in areas including information technology, emergency management (EM), mapping and communications that congregate during emergencies to facilitate response. Yet, she highlights, the lack of awareness combined with issues of validity, reliability and liability, and the fluid nature of community membership, leads to minimal VTC integration into official emergency response.

Phillips suggests that the development of an accreditation program for digital volunteers can help to address some of these issues and bridge these efforts, as it serves as an effective strategy for building volunteer credibility. Her proposed research aims to extend past research and identify elements that hinder and facilitate digital volunteer integration as a means to inform the development of an accreditation-training course.

Noting the emergent and distributed nature of digital volunteerism, she proposes just-in-time mobile training to deliver the course. This course will be tested for its ability to facilitate VTC uptake in emergencies. She concludes with the following research question to guide the study: What is the efficiency and effectiveness of VTC accreditation training as a means to facilitate integration into official emergency response channels?

For the full SSHRC award list, see here.