An exciting new era is arising, with many more opportunities for collaboration between humanitarians and makers. In mid-August, the FabLab network has welcomed the concept of ‘Humanitarian Making’ by including a Humanitarian Track as a key theme at its 12th annual conference.
The FAB12 conference was held in Shenzen, China and enabled the thought leaders of the FabLab community to come together with people actually running the FabLabs, as well as humanitarian and private sector actors who work on aiding others.
The Global Humanitarian Lab and Field Ready collaborated to bring a series of humanitarian themed talks and workshops to FAB12, including a Humanitarian 101, insights into humanitarian making in FabLabs and in the field, discussions of the ethics of Humanitarian Making, and workshops into how organisations can successfully engage FabLabs in design and prototyping for humanitarian contexts.
The Humanitarian Track struck a positive chord with FabLabs and Makers, and several participants that it had potential to add a real sense of purpose to members of the FabLab community. One brilliant outcome from the track was that a group of Netherlands FabLabs reached out and decided to run a Humanitarian Design Challenge at their Hackathon, ‘Koppelting’.
The team from the Netherlands did a fantastic job working on one of our challenges from Nepal; they came up with three new prototypes for how to make a more robust, locally manufacturable mechanism to lift the head of a hospital bed. These designs are now being tested in Nepal.