Executive Training: Foundations of Information and Communication Technologies

This 5-days executive course is intended for professionals—decision makers, advisers, lawyers—in organizations, particularly humanitarian organizations, which, like ICRC, see information and communication technologies (ICT) as an opportunity to better engage with beneficiaries and clients. They are confronted with new challenges that arise from their use of ICT, and from its use by other actors. Cybersecurity, digital privacy, and data protection, governed by increasingly stringent rules, are becoming core concerns of professionals in the humanitarian sector and beyond.

As a professional, you will be expected to interpret, develop, integrate, or evaluate actions with digital aspects. To do so, you must be able to take responsibilities in digital innovation, not only mediate between IT staff. The course is designed to give you the fundamental knowledge of information and communication technologies that you will need to take up this task and to engage more meaningfully with technical experts.

What You Will Learn

C4DT/EPFL and the ICRC developed a training concept that will give you the fundamental intuitions about ICT, the vocabulary and outlook to engage with today’s digital questions. It covers a spectrum starting from basic computer science principles to insights into ongoing debates on privacy, security, artificial intelligence, etc. It also includes hands-on sessions where you will be able to put what you learned into situations relevant to your work.


  • Learn fundamental ICT concepts and develop intuitions about what really happens underneath the surface in everyday digital activities        (running a program, navigating the Web, sending a message, browsing Facebook);
  • Learn fundamental concepts of information security, the technical side of data protection and privacy and gain a sense of how you can use technology to enable digital trust.
  • Deepen your understanding of ongoing discussions on the technical opportunities and risks of artificial intelligence, big data, blockchains and more.
  • Gain a realistic understanding of cybersecurity and data security threats, through case studies, some of them specific to the humanitarian sector.
  • Draw connections between the course material and your day-to-day business as professional with executive or advisory responsibilities.
  • Gain a basic ICT vocabulary and mindset to help you better engage with ICT experts.

Updated! Download the Course Plan and Agenda

Who should attend?

You are a mid-senior to senior professional in an international organization, the private sector, a government, or a NGO.

You are connected to, or interested in, the humanitarian sector. While the course is open to a wide audience, the case studies will be drawn from humanitarian activities.

Here are some profiles we think would benefit from attending the course:

  • Data protection officers;
  • Legal or compliance officers;
  • Protection officers;
  • Anyone with a strategic advisory role;
  • Any programme officer or executive involved in initiatives that exploit or produce sensitive data or large quantities of data.

No prior ICT knowledge is required.

Topics covered in the course

The course will include about four days of course sessions, giving participants plenty of opportunities to engage with the topics and discuss with the teachers. In addition, participants will take part in two half-day hands-on session to put together what they have learned, and connect it to their day-to-day business, by going through two scenarios connected to humanitarian affairs. The first will be connected to the security of, and threats to, an ICT infrastructure and the data it contains. The second will be connected to the exploitation of big data using AI techniques.

Fundamental concepts:

  • Computer processing, software, and bugs
  • Software engineering (coding) practices and software licensing
  • Computer networks, network security, and the Internet
  • Cryptography, vulnerabilities and an outlook into a quantum future
  • User experience: testing, promoting trust and good behavior

Storing and security data:

  • Data management, big data, clouds and the Internet of things (IoT)
  • Decentralized trust: blockchain and smart contracts
  • Cyber-threats, cybersecurity and their consequences
  • Purchasing digital services: trust, risks, and verification methods

Artificial intelligence:

  • Data analysis, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML)
  • Technologies underlying social networks (e.g. Facebook)
  • Data analysis risks and mitigation: false results, biases, and other threats

Course Team

Director: Dr. Gilles Dubochet, Head of Training, Center for Digital Trust, EPFL

ICRC coordination: Massimo Marelli, Head of Data Protection Office, ICRC

Administration: Jennifer Bachmann, Center for Digital Trust, EPFL

Teachers are carefully selected high-level ICT experts, able to engage with a non-technical audience. They include:

  • Prof. Karl Aberer, Distributed Information Systems Laboratory, EPFL
  • Dr. Sonia Bogos, Cryptography engineer, Elca
  • Dr. Gilles Dubochet
  • Dr. Maxime Monod, CEO, TwistLab
  • Prof. Carmela Troncoso, Security and Privacy Engineering Lab, EPFL


Download this form and send it to Jennifer Bachmann

In cooperation with the Data Protection Office of the International Committee of the Red Cross

General Information

Date of next course: 25-29 November 2019 (5 days)

Location: Humanitarium, at ICRC headquarters in Geneva

Price: CHF 3500.00 per participant

Special prices:

Staff from non-profit, independent organizations: a limited number of seats is available at a reduced price of CHF 2250.00
ICRC/DPO staff: please contact us for special pricing


Download this form and send it to Jennifer Bachmann