Tech Research

Through a partnership with The Policy Lab, Visiting Researcher Joe Guay is contributing to the Human Rights Center’s research on digital security protocols. Guay is helping the Human Rights Investigations Lab build out a set of digital security protocols and supporting the development and scaling out of the university-based open source lab model. In 2018, the Human Rights Center will work with The Policy Lab to carry out research on the growing use of cyber capabilities against civilian populations as a means and method of warfare, and the implications this has for humanitarian protection in the digital age. 


Joe Guay is an Associate at The Policy Lab and manages the Lab’s portfolio on humanitarian technologies and innovation. He is also a Visiting Researcher at the Human Rights Center. Since 2011, he has supported the development of information management solutions for mass atrocity prevention work in South Sudan (at Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s Satellite Sentinel Project ), the Ebola pandemic and Nepal earthquake responses (through his teaching at Northeastern University’s Geographic Information Technology Master’s Program), and on mixed-migration and human trafficking in the Horn of Africa (with the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat’s 4Mi pilot program in Nairobi, Kenya). He currently advises a pilot project in Myanmar as part of a grassroots mobile conflict monitoring system led by the Non-Violent Peace Force.

At the global policy level, Guay has developed innovation strategies and programs for the Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF), the Global Alliance for Humanitarian Innovation (GAHI), World Vision’s Nepal Innovation Lab (NLab), the Global Protection Cluster at UNHCR, swissnex SF’s “Crisis Code: Humanitarian Protection in the Digital Age” event series, drawing from strategic and evidence-based design, local strategies research, and systems thinking.

Guay has published the humanitarian sector’s first systematic study on the role of innovation in humanitarian protection, and has co-authored the “Humanitarian Innovation” chapter in the UNHCR State of the World’s refugees 2012-2016 book (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). His work on humanitarian technologies and innovation has been featured at the UNHCR Innovation Service, Brookings Institute, ALNAP, Relief Web, Harvard University’s Institute for Global Law and Policy, and Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.