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For the second consecutive year, the ICT4Peace Foundation's Special Advisor Sanjana Hattotuwa led the training of a new and unique ENTRi course on the use of new media for crisis management. The course was held from 18 - 22 May at the European Academy Grunewald in Berlin, Germany. As the course description notes,

This course introduces participants to a variety of new media tools and platforms used in the collection, presentation, verification, and dissemination of information. Participants have the chance to practice using these tools through interactive activities and group work, while learning about cyber-security to protect information and sources.
In crisis areas, quick and informed decision-making can save lives. New web, mobile and internet-based media and information dissemination platforms are constantly evolving, producing increasing amounts of content. The speed with which information is created, published and disseminated keeps increasing. This allows for a multiplicity of perspectives to surface. The challenge for experts working in civilian crisis management is finding a way to filter the information and determine what is relevant with the overload of information, and further, to communicate that effectively to the right people in an efficient manner. Additionally, new tools are being developed to help experts visualize data in a clear way, so that it can be easily shared, interpreted, and understood by different users. It is therefore vital that experts working in crisis areas are aware of these tools and know how to apply them to their work.

The training was conducted in collaboration with the renowned Zentrum für Internationale Friedenseinsätze gGmbH (ZIF), based in Berlin, and introduced 24 participants from a range of backgrounds to a variety of new media tools and platforms used in the collection, presentation, verification, and dissemination of information.

Participants used several leading web based tools, apps and services as part of interactive activities and group work, while learning about digital communications security as well in order to protect information and sources.

Photos from the training course can be found here.

Kimberly Roberson and Cedric Vidonne from UNHCR, Rina Tsubaki from the European Journalism Centre and Eoghan Mac Suibhne, a consultant with the the world renowned social media verification agency Storyful were also part of the training. All of them delivered compelling presentations and took the class through exercises, based on real world scenarios and content, that familiarised them with key concepts and tools to sift through the tsunami of information and data in order to find actionable, verified content. Modules were also anchored to information visualisation and data visualisation principles, and an introduction to crisis information management (CiM) architectures at the United Nations.

ICT4Peace Foundation designed and led several exercises as well anchored to the information visualisation and mapping, in addition to a comprehensive exercise introducing participants to around 30 of the world’s leading crisis information management platforms and websites currently active, and getting them to use each one. Participants were introduced to OpenStreetMap, and also to Google’s Map Engine Lite. Using Field Papers, participants went out of the class, and literally walked around the several neighbourhoods in Berlin in order to collaboratively map it. Participants were also introduced to new platforms like What3Words.

As was the case last year, feedback from the class strongly suggested the need for on-going training courses by ENTRi and ZIF on similar lines, and a new found appreciation, from every single participant, of the ways through which new media can help strengthen the effectiveness of their professional work and institutional mandates.