The following story exhibits speculative scenarios that reflect how global transformations might reconstruct the way we engage with communities, deliver our programmes, raise funds, use new technologies, and deal with changes we’ve never imagined. The scenarios are a result of a year consultation that included futures and foresight workshops with over 100 National Societies –including deep dives with senior leadership, horizon scanning research, and an online game for youth volunteers to about their view of the future. Watch 2017 highlights of our Futures and Foresight team, the Solferino Academy.

“Our world isn’t linear; the changes aren’t linear – therefore our solutions can’t be linear.”

Welcome to 2030

Our world is a very different place. People are living their lives in a manner that we haven’t seen before. Citizens are connected to each other deeply – regardless of where in the world they live. Their needs, hopes and desires are significantly different to any other time in history. These changes haven’t just come about from the fast integration of technology in our everyday lives – but also from what people believe in, whom they trust, who their neighbours are, what their environment looks like, and the types of jobs that they have. These are some global transformations that we feel are driving our world. Join us as we take you on a journey to explore our future world and how the Red Cross and Red Crescent could serve communities in the upcoming years.

All experiential futures artefacts, presented along this page, have been designed by experiential futures designers, in collaboration with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Artefact designs have been based on IFRC Thematic Futures analysis, which puts forward the key global trends and emerging issues that are transforming our world today. Each artefact has a story that attempts to enhance discussions and reflections on how we can prepare better today to tackle the challenges of tomorrow.

01 THE NEW WORLD TIMES BREAKING NEWS FROM 2030

In 2017, more than 4,000 youth volunteers across 120 countries played WhatFutures – a WhatsApp game designed by IFRC and Open Lab Newcastle University. The game was designed to broker diverse views from young people on what they see as the key trends affecting us in the coming years and to influence Strategy 2030. As part of the game, they solved different challenges that included the creation of multimedia news stories and advertisements from 2030 that expressed the challenges and opportunities that their communities are and will be facing by 2030. This newspaper reflects their hopes and fears about their humanitarian needs and how they imagined the Red Cross and Red Crescent needs to change to be better prepared to face them. All the stories are written by them.

Open Lab at Newcastle University and IFRC

02 FUTURE AIR

POLLUTION SAMPLE

The exponential growth of industries, traffic overload, extreme weather conditions, among other issues are topics we regularly read about. But how often do we get a sense of their implications for future generations?

This jar contains a sample of bottled polluted air. It simulates the atmospheric conditions of Mumbai, India, in 2036.  The designers carefully calculated different growing environmental factors that affect the air conditions, particularly in large urban areas.

The device has a ventilation system that allows people to inhale and get an authentic sense of what the pollution of the future smells like. Would you smell it? Superflux, 2017

03  GENETIC CALCULATOR

The latest invention from Muto Labs, this genetic risk calculator tracks genetic predispositions to infectious diseases. It is used by various state and humanitarian organisations in an attempt to pre-emptively thwart the spread of disease. The calculator analyses saliva swabs and processes them to identify people who might have genetic predispositions to a variety of diseases, as well as those who have the capacity for resistance.

This genetic testing helps guide action and treatment to mitigate epidemics. Can you imagine how an artefact like this could impact the way we operate during health emergencies?

Last year’s Madagascar plague affected 31 districts and reported nearly 700 cases, killing 57 people. Thousands of Red Cross Red Crescent volunteers intervened in the operation, tracking and holding the outbreak. During health emergencies, time is crucial therefore a technology that enables response teams to detect the infection at an early stage could save millions of lives. Superflux, 2017

AUGMENTED REALITY (AR) EXPERIENCE

Within the exhibition, we displayed different interactive pieces, including augmented reality (what is augmented reality?). The different trackers, showed below, trigger different scenarios. To scan the trackers, you will need to download the mobile application called ‘Red Cross Futures’ on Apple Store or Google Play. Once downloaded, follow the steps in the app. The stories include exclusive content with compelling data visualisations. Turn on the volume of your phone for a better experience!

04 FLOATING CITIES (AR)

Future displacement of communities due to climate-related events will impact radically on the way we work. Governments are looking at building cities on water as a potential solution to rising sea levels. Floating cities, factories and even countries will include housing, farming and manufacturing. These floating habitats will utilise natural resources including sun, wind and waves for self-sufficiency. Edge DNA, 2017

Scan the tracker to be part of the interactive experience.

05 PACIFIC WATERS (AR)

Water temperatures around the world are increasing which is subsequently causing sea levels to rise, changing the landscape of the world slowly. Islands and coastlines will change, maps will need to be re-drawn. For example, in the United States, the Florida coastline will disappear with just 2 feet more of water.

Rising water levels will cause people to migrate -displacing people from islands, cities and eventually entire countries. It’s not just about losing territory but heritage, culture and history of these places. Rising water levels will not only have one of the most significant economic impacts but on how we conceive humanity. Edge DNA, 2017

Scan the tracker to be part of the interactive experience.

06 RC VOLUNTAIR

RC Voluntair is the 192nd Red Cross Red Crescent National Society and is popular due to its global presence and restless availability. This peculiar National Society inhabits the digital space and uses applied analytics technologies to unleash the power of artificial intelligence for distributing humanitarian aid. An algorithm manages a global network of newsfeeds, data sets, and e-volunteers to anticipate and allocate aid and relief efforts where and when they are needed most.

“The powerful machine-learning system enables Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies to employ predictive distribution strategies placing aid infrastructure before natural disasters, and crises strike.”

What makes RC Voluntair unique among any other platform is a global network of volunteers who have signed up to the system. Volunteers are indexed by their skill sets and geolocation and can be called upon by the system to quickly and efficiently respond to emerging situations.  Superflux, 2017

07 INTERNATIONAL BLOCKCHAIN EVIDENCE REGISTRY (IBER) – FIELD KIT

The so-called fake news phenomenon of the late 2010s built more momentum into the early 2030s further eroding the already fragile trust in international governing bodies and traditional media. By the mid-2020s, whether a natural o manmade crisis, the crucial role of truthful information as the basis for mobilising relief and support was dramatically undermined. Tracking the “facts on the ground” became harder to proof -in both major and minor crises-. How many people were affected? Over how large of an area? What were the causes? What was the situation at a local level? All of these essential questions became difficult to answer to the satisfaction of the right bodies.

A revolutionary technology popular for its applications to financial and legal issues —blockchain—, designed to establish non-disputable records of transactions, provided a potential solution. The International Standards Organization (ISO) passed the International Blockchain Evidence Registry (IBER) in 2027. IBER consisted of a set of standardised, audited recording and collection tools that allowed teams of distinctive ground observers to visit areas impacted by war, conflict, disease outbreak, sudden mass migration or natural disaster, and record critical information.

The collection tools included cameras, LIDAR technology, and sensors. Every device was connected to the Internet of Things (IoT) and allocated the blockchain registry in real-time, which, by the legal framework, could not be repudiated by signatories.

IBER had its first real-world test in 2028 during a tsunami rescue operation in the Pacific. Specially trained teams collected, logged, and tracked environmental and population health information, enabling relief to be delivered quickly and adequately by Red Cross and Red Crescent teams with full international support. The IBER data was subsequently used in recovery assessments to allocate efforts smartly. Changeist, 2017

08 DONAID

DONAID is a future donation platform in which future citizens who earn their salaries in cryptocurrency can donate a portion of this currency to the Red Cross and Red Crescent for a project or cause of their choosing. Citizens who process cryptocurrency transactions are able to do this on their own personal computers/devices, not needing any particular hardware. Cryptocurrency mining is typically an environmentally unfriendly activity, consuming vast amounts of power to generate the currency. To rectify this, DONAID functions of a model of small but frequent currency generation sessions; a user would dedicate between 1% and 20% or 1 – 20 mins of power to mining a small amount of cryptocurrency per day. The created “coins” or money would then be donated to the Red Cross Red Crescent. Superflux, 2017

09 ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, THE FUTURE OF REMOTE HEALTH (AR)

An AR experience that visualises how AI can help transcend borders in how people help each other. A doctor in Africa via AI can provide medical help in a high danger zone in Asia. AI has the capability of going through tens of thousands of documents and reference material to assess a person’s health and develop the most accurate solution to the person’s needs. Edge DNA, 2017

Scan the tracker to be part of the interactive experience.

10 DRONES TO THE RESCUE! (AR)

An AR experience that visualises how drones will act as first responders to help in emergencies with the assistance of AI. AI will have the capabilities to assess and categorise the damage for prioritisation, assisting such as medical, food and potentially have the ability to transport people to an emergency zone. Edge DNA, 2017

Scan the tracker to be part of the interactive experience.

11 FLOOD RISK DATA SCULPTURE

Forecast-based Financing (FbF) is a rapidly developing system that smartly utilises the window between forecast and hazard in order to save resources, belongings and, most importantly, lives. FbF is a system designed to automatically trigger action based on forecast information, data collection and observation. The system has different levels of action depending on the emergency level. In Togo, FbF was piloted with a digital tool called FUNES (for “functional estimation”). 

Red Cross volunteers collected rainfall data in the Mono river basin upstream of the Nangbeto dam. Trained volunteers made observations of rainfall and river levels and submitted the information using a very practical SMS system developed by specialised scientists.The data fed a ‘self-learning algorithm’ that estimated overspill risks, enabling operators to plan aid releases and humanitarian responders to better prepare communities downstream. The sculpture represents the data forecasted by the digital tool.

FUNES, the name of the estimation algorithm, is also the name of the main character from a fictional story called “Funes the Memorious”. The Argentinian writer, Jorge Luis Borges, narrates how Ireneo Funes fell off his horse and had a severe head injury. After surviving the accident, he wakes up with the extraordinary ability to remember absolutely everything. Borges had an obsession with memory and learning capabilities of the human mind. The algorithm became more and more accurate as it processed more data, guiding smarter decisions on when to trigger the different levels of relief in Nangbeto River Dam in Togo. Did you know Togolese and German Red Cross, together with the RCRC Climate Centre were awarded at the World Government Summit in Dubai for the joint effort on FbF? Designed in collaboration with Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, Togolese Red Cross, German Red Cross

12 VIRTUAL PACIFIC – VR EXPERIENCE

The Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre, in collaboration with Visyon and artist Santiago Espeche, developed a virtual reality experience that combines satellite imagery art with a compelling narrative that takes place in the Pacific Ocean.

The exploration includes a reflective moment on humanitarian consequences, stressing the risks islands are suffering due to climate issues. This journey shows Pacific communities telling their stories through poetry, revealing their point of view on climate change.

13 ROBOT TEACHER

Current developments in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Robotics suggest a future of fully shared social spaces, including learning environments with robotic personalities. Mr Sota is a robot teacher with capabilities for social interaction and classroom control. Would you send your kids to a school non-human professors? Imagineering Institute, Malaysia, 2017

14 SUITCASES FOR THE FUTURE

“Moving is living. How much  does your life weigh”

Often when we talk about the future, we tend to, almost involuntarily, imagine emerging industries and technological disruptions. However, this project captures an unconventional way of conceiving the future.

Youth in Lebanon went through a futures exercise where they reflected about the world they will live in the upcoming years. As part of the activity, they crafted a suitcase that would contain a series of hopes and objects that had significant value for them, but more importantly, that they could use in 20 years time. Youth allocated pictures of the places they would like to visit or live in, figures of people they would like to meet, and envelopes with tools and skills they might require for their future jobs.

This project reminds us that anyone can think about the future avoiding the technological clichés. You can replicate this exercise with your kids and family and discover what their hopes for the future are. Open Lab at Newcastle University

15 VRRT TEAM

By the mid-2020s, an increasing tempo of unanticipated crises—particularly environmental and technologically driven infrastructure failures—push the ability of traditional international groups to respond. Additionally, national organisations more and more focus on domestic issues, and the Global North recedes from dealing with issues in the Global South. At the same time, resources and skills are increasingly available and accessible in emerging economies. A mix of indigenous and transnational organisations stand up in these countries, with the aim of providing crisis management, mitigation and assistance, particularly as climate change impacts them disproportionately.

One such organisation is the Haches Vertes, the Green Hatchets, or Green Axe. Referred to in sub-Saharan francophone countries as ‘Les Vertes’, they are commonly known in the Anglosphere as ‘Virts’, also the acronym most commonly seen on the uniform vests they wear when deployed: Volunteer Response & Resilience Team. The VRRT are an all-volunteer, swarm-based aid group with roots literally and figuratively in the Saharan Green-belt initiative, founded by a mixture of radical permaculture designers and military veterans from both combat and expeditionary reforestation units to defend community projects in the region.

The group differentiates itself from traditional aid groups through its long-horizon strategic planning and focus on action. Beyond conventional disaster relief, areas visited by the VRRT are appointed special advisors for strategic resilience training and for the management of work programs, most commonly involving water management and reforestation efforts. Disillusioned with global governance breakdown, a steady influx of volunteers from the western world bolsters the ranks. Volunteers are provided with a cryptocurrency stipend, and there is a great aesthetic appeal in the performative aspects of the work. Recruitment centres on guerrilla media that documents situations and interventions where VRRT are first on the scene to collect information, document incidents and deliver medical, technical and strategic assistance. Changeist, 2017

16 CITIZENSHIP KIT

Single-use dynamic temporary citizenship in cases of disaster

In the wake of a steady upward trend in climate-driven disruption hundreds of thousands are left homeless and unable to remain in place. Upwards of 35 million people were displaced and needed immediate assistance in 2026 alone. At a series of international summits convened by UNHCR in 2027-2029, a framework for what is called DyNaMo (dynamic national mobility) is signed onto by 23 countries in its initial implementation, beginning in 2030. DyNaMo builds on both precedent and practice of the successful long-term e-residency programmes developed by Estonia and a handful of other nations in the 2010s, allowing qualified individuals to gain digital-legal “citizenship”—though not necessarily rights to physical residency—in another country. The 23 countries of the DyNaMo partnership agreed to place into a pool between 2,000 and 50,000 temporary legal “citizenships” as a means of extending their own local legal and welfare systems for up to 120 days to refugees in third countries who are under meaningful threat from war, genocide or non- voluntary resettlement due to a natural disaster or other significant cause.

These temporary “citizenships” are extended solely for the purposes of protecting the population using more stringent legal regimes, or enabling delivery of financial, medical or other critical assistance that could only be supplied under cover of an appropriate national safety net. Similar to the way Internet addresses or prepaid mobile numbers are assigned dynamically, these temporary citizenships can be drawn from a pool, managed by the Red Cross and Red Crescent in collaboration with the IFRC and several other international groups, assigned in the field by trained relief workers, then expired and returned to the pool in 120 days or earlier as deemed by the issuing country or relief body. Protection and benefits are only delivered in the field or in approved third-country transit, and are not useable for actual resettlement in the issuing country, though they do provide a special category of humanitarian consideration should the recipient wish to apply for resettlement in the issuing country.

In the field, a simple kit, comprising of a biometric system for registration, a single use bracelet containing identity and citizenship information, and a payment chip for storage of funds, can be deployed, remotely activated/deactivated to prevent theft, and carried from location to location by approved DyNaMo officers. Teams from an international logistics contractor – Worldwide Mobility — is used to deliver a mix of first response services in the field, and provide follow up support. WM works alongside relevant IFRC national teams in crisis response. The benefits of DyNaMo include not only the ability to provide different kinds and levels of protection and relief that are situation- or location-specific to populations in crisis, but also allows issuing countries to better control emergency migration and aid delivery scenarios before they reach their own borders. Changeist, 2017

17 The Thing from The Future

The Thing from The Future is an award-winning customised game that challenges players to collaboratively and competitively describe objects from a range of alternative futures. The object of the game is to come up with the most entertaining and thought-provoking descriptions of hypothetical objects from the near, medium and long term. Situation Lab, 2017

How do you play?

The game is up to six players. Make sure every set of colours is shuffled perfectly. Each player chooses one card until one of each colour is on the table. First, the green card sets the context and mood where you could find this “thing from the future”. Then, the red card tells the “thing” you have to imagine. Finally, the blue card describes a particularity of the “thing from the future (red card)”. Each player has to imagine what the combination of cards looks like; you can use a piece of paper to draw or write a short story about “the thing from the future”. The player who comes up with the most creative idea wins the round. Here is an example:

Would you like a

copy of the came?

GUERILLA ARTEFACTS

All around the venue hidden artefacts were waiting to be discovered. With the intention to provoke shocking reactions and spark conversations, the team deployed the following pieces secretly.

Business cards from the future

These cards were designed so they could trick the distracted ones. They look like regular IFRC cards, but all the titles revealed how the programmes and operations might require a different skill set to meet future needs better. The cards also speculate about new types of humanitarian needs. As part of an exercise, the team gave a set of these cards to youth delegates asking them to handle them during meetings. “Do you want to know what I’ll be doing in five or ten years? Here’s my card coming from the future” something between those lines the delegates had to say when delivering the cards.

These are the roles that resonated the most with the audience:

  • Global Lead: Geoengineering Impacts Mitigation. Emerging Disasters Department (EMD).
  • First responder: Cyberwarfare. Contemporary Conflict Response Unit.
  • Global Head of Digital Branches. Rapid Volunteer Taskforce.
  • Chief Data Scientist. Robotics, Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Data Department.
  • Head of Humanitarian Diplomacy. Global Red Cross and Red Crescent Delegation to Silicon Valley.
  • Technical Lead: Digital Identity and Blockchain. Global Migration Support Team.
  • Senior Officer: Crowd Sourcing and Peer-to-peer Mobilisation. Alternative Finance Unit.
  • Global Head: Artificial Intelligence and Predictive Data. Disaster Anticipation Taskforce
  • Chairperson of the Global Climate Migration Taskforce. Global Disasters Office

Climate Migration Poster

The Situation Lab designed the following poster, which expresses a scenario where climate activists are self-organising and taking actions. After coastlines start to disappear all around the world, communities take action and protest with unusual methods. Most of these groups are swarm-based bodies that act without funding, borders, and connect through distributed networks.

Innovative Finance Money

Every single attendant to the General Assembly would easily recognise the person on that hundred bucks note. Henry Dunant, funder of the Red Cross Red Crescent has become an emblem of the Movement. This flyer was sneakily dropped in places around the venue where people would usually interact with cash transactions. The motive was to, for a second, cheat the participants to think it was a real bill for them to inquire further. At the back of the money, relevant information related to the innovative financing unit was communicated.

SATELLITE IMAGERY ART

There was a time when deserts were oceans. Argentinian artist, Santiago Espeche bases his creations on deserts satellite imagery. He changes the colour palette replacing the typical yellow, orange and red for a range of different blues and whites. As a result, what looked dry and dead depicts a vivid picture of life and greatness.

His art reminds us that by changing one single element such as the colour our whole perspective changes. This concept indicates our attempt with The Future is Now. By showing parts of a future where we could live as humanity helps us shift the way we conceive the priorities for the upcoming years as an organisation. More importantly, it encourages a different way of designing our services for a world that is moving at an unprecedented pace. Santiago Espeche, 2017

About the designers

THE FUTURE IS NOW was possible due to several speculative and strategical design firms. They worked closely with IFRC Innovation team to curate and brought the concepts to life, ensuring consistency with a holistic consultation process. Read the behind the scenes and relevant pieces linked to this exhibition from each one of them. 

Speculative Humanitarian Futures

Imagining responses to a turbulent world

Augmented Reality to tackle humanitarian challenges

Coming soon

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Humanitarian Futures

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Humanitarian Futures

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