From 11 to 15 April 2015, the ICT4Peace Foundation conducted an ENTRi certified training programme on a variety of new media tools and platforms used in the collection, presentation, verification, and dissemination of information. 22 participants, from as far afield as Sudan and Iraq, as well as from Europe and Asia, attended the intensive programme, held at SWISSINT in Stans-Oberdorf, Switzerland. As noted in the course description,
This course was designed to introduce its participants to a variety of digital media tools and platforms used in crisis contexts. During the training programme, participants are guided through the various phases of crisis information management, spanning from the collection, validation, analysis, visualization to the dissemination of information. In addition, they have the chance to practice using these tools through interactive activities and group work, while learning also about cyber-security to protect information and sources.
Each day started at 8am and ended at around 5pm, with participants learning from lectures as well as hands on exercises and practical lessons. A movie screening (‘Our Brand is Crisis’) alerted participants to the dangers of misinformation and disinformation campaigns. A simulation around Haiti, involved over 50 different humanitarian, geographic, donor and in-country websites, confronted them with the complexity of information gathering and verification. Hands on exercises around social media verification, designed to be difficult, were undertaken and completed with aplomb – and through it, lessons around techniques, tips and tricks for verification learnt. Participants were introduced to foundational concepts around Open Source Intelligence, Big Data, Social Media and situational awareness.
A highlight of this year’s course was to get the participants to fly a DJI Phantom IV drone – allowing them to understand first hand the complexities of flight control, the capabilities of UAVs today, and take into class some of the concerns around privacy and security. Flying the drone, and seeing it fly, also brought a fresh perspective into discussions around how UAVs are today centre and forward in humanitarian and peacekeeping theatres.
The course ended with a discussion around digital security and cyber-security, with a number of participants noting that this session alone could well be a standalone course, or even extended in future training programmes, given the importance of the topic.
Class feedback was very positive. As per ENTRi requirements, anonymised web-based input was required before and after the training programme.
Participants also rated the quality of lectures very highly.
Unsurprisingly, 2016’s class is divided on the length of the training programme, and this is something that has endured from the first class a few years ago. We read the feedback around the need for a longer training programme as an affirmation that this knowledge is increasingly indispensable when working around information management during, leading up to or dealing with the aftereffects of a crises. The Foundation will use this feedback to ascertain how best to offer this training programme again in the future.
Participants also rated very highly the venue of the workshop and the organisational/admin aspects of it, handled by the ICT4Peace Foundation.