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"Big Five" Criteria
February 2007


As every technologist, designer, and software developer knows, the greatest developmental challenge is twofold: to determine user needs and to find a way to meet them.

This challenge is especially pronounced in ICTs – information and communications technologies – for humanitarian work. Users are usually hard to reach, their needs are often unique, and marketing channels to these customers are fragmented and difficult to pursue, if they exist at all.


In 2005, the HumaniNet project team learned of numerous ICT systems, designs, and software solutions in various stages of development. We increasingly find that new developments seldom reach fully-tested usability in the field. Pilot projects abound – with good intentions to be sure – but not many become meaningful to significant numbers of field teams.

In 2006, HumaniNet began to use a new yardstick, which we call our "Big Five" criteria. We will, working with partners as appropriate, research, identify, and publicize the solutions that meet all of the following "Big Five" criteria:

1. Provide a needed capability to humanitarian organizations.
2. Have the potential for widespread use or significant value.
3. Are available to all humanitarian organizations in significant quantities.
4. Are operationally ready for field use. This implies that:
Rigorous field testing is complete and successful, with test reports available.
Field support is available, affordable, and effective.
Reports are available from humanitarian users.
5. Have value for many humanitarian scenarios and organizations and present clearly stated costs. This implies that:
The value depends on the utility vs. cost. It will vary with the end user, depending on mission, size of organization, field requirements, and other factors.
The solution must be affordable for a significant number of organizations, not only the largest. High cost solutions for UN, government, and large-NGO users may have value to those organizations, but they may not be useful to the general community of users.
Costs must be inclusive, to include startup/installation, training, field support, and life cycle costs.

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