S4: Simple, Secure, Survivable Systems Human-first crisis technology design principles

Kelsie Nabban, Paul Gardner-Stephen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review


Information technology has become embedded in almost every area of modern life. The many complex digital systems that support modern societies are now highly dependent on the correct function of complex and highly interdependent technological systems. Digital tools are increasingly becoming part of traditional crisis response efforts by government and non-government organisations. While digital tools have substantial capabilities to enhance crisis response efforts, they also pose significant risks to user communities when deployed in time-sensitive, vulnerable and fragile crisis contexts – as part of an already complex system. These risks and inefficiencies have been demonstrated in the contact-tracing application debate in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.Technology must be intentionally designed and implemented, both to help solve the problem at hand and support end user com-munities. The principles of simple, secure and survivable systems (S4) offer a framework for technology that serves the interests of end-users and maintains human dignity, especially in crisis situations. The S4 principles are already evident in a number of technology projects, across research, design, build and deployment phases. Instead of high-risk, ad hoc, reactive digital solutions, crisis responders can pre-emptively share information, invest and work with existing technology design and development experts that reflect the S4 principles for efficient, effective solutions that enhance response capabilities both now and in future scenarios.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2020 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, GHTC 2020
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-7281-7388-7
ISBN (Print)978-1-7281-7389-4
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2020
Event2020 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC) - (Virtual), Seattle, United States
Duration: 29 Oct 20201 Nov 2020
Conference number: 10th

Publication series

Name2020 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference, GHTC 2020


Conference2020 IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (GHTC)
Abbreviated titleIEEE-GHTC 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited States
OtherThe 10th IEEE Global Humanitarian Technology Conference (IEEE GHTC 2020) is an international flagship conference sharing practical technology enabled solutions addressing the needs of underserved populations and resource constrained environments around the world and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDG).
Internet address


Dive into the research topics of 'S4: Simple, Secure, Survivable Systems Human-first crisis technology design principles'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this