Please view this site in landscape mode.

ICT4Peace Foundation's Daniel Stauffacher and Sanjana Hattotuwa were invited to present a lecture on ICT for Peace and Global Justice by the 3TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology (TU Delft) at The Hague Institute for Global Justice on 11 March 2013.

As the Institute's event page notes,

Representatives of the UN-accredited organization ICT4Peace will present their work, with support of visual demonstrations, on Crisis Information Management and the role of information and communication technologies in this.

Information and communication technologies are crucial in obtaining, communicating and transmitting accurate and timely crisis information and hence to effectuate an appropriate response to man-made and natural disasters. How can we make better use of the vast amount of data that is already – openly accessible – online. Improved (Big) data analysis and (Big) data mining could provide an opportunity. Through the collection and subsequent analysis of such data, verified and timely crisis information can be provided.

3TU.Ethics and Delft University of Technology (Department of Values Technology and Innovation) are considering in collaboration with others to explore the possibilities of establishing such a platform of big data analysis and 'reality mining' that could provide input for accurate policy and decision making in light of crisis response. Big data analysis could and should provide valuable information for conflict prevention, crisis response and restorative justice endeavours.

Daniel Stauffacher's presentation focussed on the Foundation's sustained and significant work since 2008 with the United Nations system on crisis information management, and in particular the development of the UN's crisis information management strategy.

Sanjana Hattotuwa was asked by 3TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology to focus on the opportunities for Big Data to be used in crisis information management, and ended his presentation by problematising some of the assumptions around the availability and use of big and open data in conflict transformation. Taking a rights based perspective, Sanjana offered key examples of Big Data on the web that could be useful in granular as well as contextual situational awareness, and also flagged work he had done to curate, archive and visualise, for posterity, thousands of tweets on human rights anchored to specific country review processes at the UN in Geneva. He also flagged some of the platforms now used by the UN and the crisismapping community that represent a paradigm shift in the way data, in anticipation of, during and just after a sudden onset disaster as well as other crises are generated, mapped, analysed, disseminated, visualised and archived.

A lively discussion with the participants ensued after the presentation, focussing on the challenges of data gathering in low bandwidth and high latency contexts, just after a disaster when telecoms would almost certainly be down or overburdened, the challenges of semantic analysis around dangerous and hate speech especially in languages other than English or those based on a Romanic script, the use and adaptations of social media in China and the challenge of mapping conversations on online social and new media in order to red flag instances where, for examples in a peace process or fragile post-war context, the breakdown of conversations could be a marker or increased social, partisan or communal tension.

Sanjana flagged key research reports, organisations, individuals and institutions including UN agencies at the cutting edge of innovation in this domain, key technology trends, real world examples, platforms, tools and apps, significant challenges, including ethical issues and possible future scenarios in engaging with the participants.

Also read the ICT4Peace Foundation's report titled The potential and challenges of open data for crisis information management and aid efficiency: A preliminary assessment and Sanjana Hattotuwa's blog post on A brief exploration of Open and Big Data: From investigative journalism to humanitarian aid and peacebuilding.