Tag Archives: NetHope

ICT4D Thought Leader Profile: Gisli Olaffson

With over twenty-five years of experience in the IT industry and almost twenty years in Disaster management, Gisli Olaffson is an expert in his field, combining ICTs with emergency response. He specializes in the use of technology to solve some of the most challenging collaboration issues within the field of disaster response; and is currently the Emergency Response Director of NetHope, a collaboration of thirty-four NGOs that work together under one umbrella to address the world’s most pressing issues through ICT innovation and development.

Gisli has had an extensive career in both the fields of computer science and disaster management leading up to where he is today. He has held computer tech positions at Xerox Corporation and Microsoft. In addition, Gisli is also an active member of the UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team (UNDAC), where he is on stand-by to immediately deploy anywhere in the world to coordinate first response operations for the international community when disaster strikes.

If you can think of a recent disaster, Gisli has most likely been there. More recently, he has participated in disaster field missions in response to the floods in Ghana and Pakistan, Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar, Hurricane Ike in Texas, the Horn of Africa Famine, and earthquakes in West Sumatra, Haiti, Japan, and China. He led the ICE-SAR team in the Haiti earthquake response.  His team was among the first to arrive on the scene – just two hours after the disaster. In addition to his disaster work, Gisli is the CEO and founder of Gridland.net, a consultant company focusing on .net and related technologies; as well as the CTO and co-founder of ITmobile.net, a small startup focusing on convergence of software and mobile technologies. Gisli boasts an impressive knowledge of languages, speaking English, Icelandic, Danish, Swedish, and German.

Gisli attributes his inspiration to the local people who are there during the disaster, step up to start the rescue efforts, and continue to work even after the international response teams have left. He says, it’s often not the people with the “big titles,” but the low level workers that are the ones making things happen. He would like to see more of those people – the kind of leaders that step up and do the real work making a difference out in the field. You can find Gisli online on his blog, “Dealing with Disasters,” his Twitter, and his LinkedIn. Gisli currently resides in Geneva, Switzerland with his family.

NetHope: Providing ICT Support through Collaboration and Innovation


NetHope is an organization that helps NGOs more effectively address the world’s most pressing challenges through smarter use of technology- all through collaboration and innovation. The organization’s mission is to promote collaboration between thirty-four leading international humanitarian organizations so the best ICTs and practices can be used to serve people in the developing world. They work across their membership as a team by solving common technology problems, fostering strong relationships with private industry, and educating their members and the worldwide humanitarian community.

NetHope was founded by William A. Brindley and Edward G. Happ in 2001 and has quickly grown from just  seven original members in 2001 (Children International, Winrock International, Mercy Corps, CARE, World Vision, and Save the Children) to thirty-four in 2012.

Today, NetHope focuses on five key areas:

– Connnectivity: Improving communications between organizations and field offices in remote parts of the world

– Field Capacity Building: Implementing technology solution and conducting skills training to increase productivity in the field

– Emergency Response: Enabling faster, and better coordinated response

– Shared Services: Providing leverage and economies of scale by sharing the best solutions and services among members

– Innovation for Development: Creating technology solutions for important issues in healthcare, education. agriculture, conservation, and financial programs.

The work of the NetHope is guided by six fundamental values: technology matters, benefiting all benefits one, learning through collaboration, build for the field, bias for action, and trust above all else. It uses the power of public-private partnerships and collective resources to deliver the best ICT solutions to the developing world. NetHope provides a connection between member organizations and major technology corporations. Among its supporters are Accenture, Cisco, Adobe, Microsoft, and Intel; of which it relies on for investments and resources.  By applying these resources to 34 humanitarian organizations at once through NetHope, supporting institutions see far more impact from their investments than they would by individually approaching each member organization.

Stats and Ongoing Programs:

NetHope operates in 180 countries,  its organizations represent $40 billion in humanitarian development, emergency response, and conservation programs. Every year, it distributes $36 million of in-kind value to members, including pro-bono services and in-kind product to its members to support their efforts.

– Connectivity in the Horn of Africa Crisis: NetHope is working on the ground with NGOs and the UN to develop better internet and connectivity to enable more efficient information sharing and relief efforts at the refugee camps in Dadaab, Kenya.

– Relief from Pakistan Floods: NetHope is employing the help of Microsoft and Intel and local NGOs to provide support in the form of laptops and camcorders to study the emergency response and improve for better preparedness in the future.

– NetHope Academy Haiti: Working with Accenture and Save the Children, the NetHope Academy provides computer science students in Haiti with technical skills as well as on the job experience. eventually placing each student at a paid IT internship with a host organization and mentor.

NetHope’s work is made possible by continued financial and in-kind support of donors and members.