USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, August 4 - 10, 2011

Table of Contents

**Click here to subscribe to USIP's Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding News Roundup,
which includes a special section on Internet and social media.**

Ignore the Naysayers, Restrictions on DRC Conflict Minerals Remain Vital
A string of recent media comments have argued that a piece of US legislation aimed at ending conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo actually hurts civilians. Pieces in the Wall Street Journal, Christian Science Monitor and the New York Times all make the same point - that requiring companies to identify the source of their minerals will drive investment away from the DRC and keep people poor. It is a familiar argument, often made with regard to economic sanctions. It is also simplistic and wrong.
See the full article (Guardian, Salil Tripathi, 8/10/11)
[Return to top]

London Riots: Tech's Role in the Thick of It
A peaceful protest precipitated the first riot in Tottenham in north London, but it was not to blame. It's not entirely clear what sparked the first riot, but a number of factors caused the riots to spread. Social media has since been used to some extent, raking in Twitter and Facebook to help law enforcement deal with the ongoing crisis. But as many initially reported the use of social media's involvements in the initial unrest, many have been confused between social media and mobile technology.
See the full article (CBS, Zack Whittaker, 8/9/11)
[Return to top]

Google Group Members to Use Facial Recognition to Identify London Rioters
A new Google Group called "London Riots Facial Recognition" has appeared online, in the wake of the riots that rocked the U.K. capital over the weekend. The group's goal is to use facial recognition technologies to identify the looters who appear in online photos. The group appears to be thoughtfully considering its actions, in threads titled "Ethical Issues," and "Keeping Things Legal," for example. They've also stated that "it's important we only use legal sources for images."
See the full article (Tech Crunch, 8/9/11)
[Return to top]

Ushahidi Helps Bring Crowdsourcing Technology to 132 Countries Worldwide
With three open-source platforms working to crowdsource and map people's insights, Ushahidi has quickly grown from one project in Kenya to uses in 132 countries around the world. Every day, people use Ushahidi's tools to bridge information gaps in their communities, by doing things like mapping healthcare resources and monitoring disease outbreaks in Honduras and gauging riot violence and transportation problems in London.
See the full article (Knight Blog, Andries Vaisman, 8/9/11)
[Return to top]

BlackBerry's RIM To Help Police Trace London Rioters
Rioting, looting and starting fires may seem like random, chaotic acts carried out by a crazed mob. But it appears the thugs who took part in riots across London in recent days coordinated their attacks using the sophisticated encryption technology offered by Research In Motion's BlackBerry. The secure messaging service is called BBM and aimed at business users - but gang members like it because, unlike SMS, Facebook and Twitter, messages cannot be traced by police and require private Pin numbers.
See the full article (Forbes, Parmy Olson, 8/9/11)
[Return to top]

Laser Weapons Might Protect U.S. Copters from Next Attack
With a little more time and a little more technology, there's a chance, maybe, that the tragic shoot-down of an American helicopter in Afghanistan could have been stopped; 38 lives might've been saved, if two existing Army systems had been packaged into one. Military researchers are looking to combine an acoustic gunshot detector with a dazzling laser that will startle shooters who take aim at American hells.
See the full article (Wired, Noah Shachtman, 8/8/11)
[Return to top]

Why Crisis Maps Can Be Risky When There's Political Unrest
Crisis mapping has had a major impact in the last 18 months, helping to collate information and coordinate activities during the Haitian earthquake in early 2010 and the Japanese tsunami that struck earlier this year. But crisis mapping tools are increasingly springing up in politically fraught situations, too; most notably, they have been used to provide humanitarian relief during the protests that have swept through the Middle East in recent months.
See the full article (Technology Review, Erica Naone, 8/8/11)
[Return to top]

Hackers Don't Need Movie Magic to Wreak Havoc
Evil hackers with state-of-the-art computers gain remote control of a power plant and blow it up, killing many people and threatening more mayhem if a huge ransom is not paid. It's a storyline straight out of a Hollywood action movie, but those attending two of the world's biggest hacking conferences this week learned that such a scenario is not as outlandish as one might think.
See the full article (Reuters, Jim Finkle, 8/6/11)
[Return to top]

Click here to subscribe to USIP's Media, Conflict and Peacebuilding News Roundup,
which includes a special section on Internet and social media.

Did we miss anything?



Share this: FacebookDeliciousDiggMySpaceStumbleUponGoogleMicrosoftYahoo! BookmarksLinkedIn| Forward this to a Friend


Click here to unsubscribe