The Principles for Digital Development at Homa Reto  

Photo credit: Open Source Lab

Homa Reto is a digital information-sharing platform that aims to facilitate community organization and risk reduction in Europe. We are committed to developing inclusive software that enables citizen empowerment and the reduction of inequalities. Innovative technologies play an increasing role in development and disaster risk reduction. This development has led to the creation of the principles for digital development, as a set of nine guidelines designed to ensure best practices in technology-enabled initiatives. They include principles such as designing with the user, being data-driven, and ensuring transparency in addressing the privacy and security of our users. As a digital platform, the Human Network is dedicated to embracing these principles and is drawing inspiration from them for its development.

Homa Reto is designed as an open network of NGOs, development actors, and local people. We aim not only to create a dialogue between these actors but also to include them in our design process. By continuously engaging with user feedback, organizing focus groups for open discussions on needs and wants, and cherishing close partnerships with civil society networks, we attempt to make this process as inclusive as possible. Through conversation, observation, and co-creation with the future users of our software, designing with the user becomes one of our core principles. This also allows us to better understand the power dynamics and experiences of different actors in the development field, giving our technology qualitative attributes.

Women working together on a community garden outreach project to help improve their local environment. (Photo by: Pixabay)

With the information collected during our design process, we can understand the existing networks and consider the structure and needs of specific countries, regions, and communities. We aim for our software to be used at the community level, where crises have the biggest impact, and with their consent, share this information with decision-makers while empowering users through data accreditation. Eventually, our goal is to secure funding and partnerships that will allow us to make our initiative accessible to as many communities and regions as possible. With this scaling objective in mind, we place importance on keeping our design flexible and simple to make it possible to easily adapt our content to new contexts.

In order to maximize our long-term impact, we consider the importance of the sustainability of our initiative. To ensure the viability of our project, we are conducting research on business models that can guarantee sustainable revenue generation. An example that we are considering during our design process is the concept of steward ownership. This model aims to mobilize the power of entrepreneurial for-profit enterprise while at the same time protecting the company’s societal aspirations and values. Ensuring we find a suitable business model allows us to achieve our societal goals while offering the best experience possible to our users. Hence, working within the framework of Doughnut Economics, we value the environments we work with. To design software that is best tailored to the needs of our users, we are equally committed to being data-driven in our design and decision-making process. This practice helps us to make quality information available to our users when they will be in need of using Homa Reto in a crisis situation.  

The collection of data for our work is based on publicly available information and the use of open data and sources. This way, we can rely on collaboration with already existing innovations rather than duplicating work that has already been done. It also allows us to focus on the innovative features of Homa Reto which include being software developed in close cooperation with community organizations and focused on civic humanitarian action. In addition, we are open to sharing information and resources collected with other organizations in our field to hopefully achieve greater efficiency and impact.

Ethics is an integral part of data processing. (Photo by: Pixabay)

Finally, since Homa Reto’s work involves the collection of personal data, it is of crucial importance to us to address and be transparent in our handling of privacy and security concerns. As a European company, we comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to ensure the protection of personal data and provide guarantees to our users. With the large volumes of information processed by organizations, more complex challenges and risks are rising. To protect already vulnerable populations and minimize exposure to harm or exploitation, Homa Reto puts responsible data acquisition, storage, and sharing at the core of its mission. We also actively communicate with our users to ensure that they are aware of their rights and understand our approach to data protection. In addition, the Red Cross’s “Handbook on Data Protection in Humanitarian Action” (2020) provides valuable guidance for Homa Reto’s conduct. If you want to find out more about what we are doing and how we align ourselves with the digital principles, visit the ‘how it works’ section of our website or contact us directly!

Author: Suzon Mazataud

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