Maker pioneers from Iraq visit MIT campus
Three Iraqi technologists who founded the first makerspace in Basra, Iraq visited MIT on Monday and Tuesday to meet with various labs and student groups as part of a tour hosted by the Media Lab and the Undergraduate Association Innovation Committee.
Their trip was part of a larger initiative by PeaceTech Lab to encourage the use of technology in minimizing violence in conflict regions. Tim Receveur, director of the program called PeaceTech Exchanges, said they have worked in Iraq for about two years on “better governance, citizen engagement.” While they usually host events in the countries they work in, this was a unique case where they helped bring Arif and his co-founders to the United States. In addition to visiting MIT, the three attended the New York Maker Faire on Sunday.
PeaceTech Lab believes gear, gadgets, and know-how can sow peace amid conflict
Can technology drive positive change in conflict areas? The founders of PeaceTech Lab, an organization created by the U.S. Institute of Peace and spun off as a separate entity earlier this year, certainly think so. This weekend they're at Maker Faire in NYC celebrating the achievements of an Iraqi man who embodies that ethos.
"We work at the intersection of media, technology, and data collection," says Tim Receveur, director of the PeaceTech Exchanges program, which provides workshops organized by the PeaceTech Lab to empower peacebuilders. "We try to introduce low-cost, easy-to-implement technologies into conflict zones, and we do that by working closely with NGOs, journalists, and now government."
6 Tech Companies Changing The Face of Peacekeeping
PeaceTech lab started as part of the Unites States Institute for Peace but became a separate nonprofit last year, to expand the organization to include the private sector.
“We have this phenomenon around the globe where we have a lot of projects,” said Sheldon Himelfarb, president of PeaceTech Lab, adding, “It’s like a thousand flowers blooming, but how do you really harness the potential here so that it’s amplified over the ones using technology to do harm.”
Technology Workshops Connect Community Leaders
Many people around the world wish for peace in the world and although it still seem far-fetched, there are many who are working to achieve it, such as the PeaceTech Lab, which is using technology workshops to help community leaders in conflict zones connect with each other.
Many might think that such technology workshops are more suited for places such as Seattle or San Francisco, but the PeaceTech Lab, through its PeaceTech Exchanges is conducting workshops in Basra, a city in Iraq. The PeaceTech Lab is under the auspices of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), a government-funded institution based in Washington, D.C.
Workshops Are Connecting Community Leaders In Conflict Zones With Tech Solutions
Basra is just one of the places where the Washington, D.C.-based, government-funded United States Institute of Peace is hosting workshops, called PeaceTech Exchanges, through itsPeaceTech Lab. The exchanges are intended to connect community peace builders in conflict zones -- activists, civic leaders and even government officials -- with accessible tech platforms and like-minded partners who can help them transform their ideas into reality.
So far, the exchanges, which began in 2013, have taken place in Iraq, Burma, Pakistan, India, Turkey and Uganda. Future events are planned in Afghanistan.
In addition to providing a space for ideas to take shape, the organization offers "micro-awards" of financial backing for some of the projects that originate there.
Robotics, start-ups and bitcoin: the other side of Iraq
For more than a decade, I’ve watched and read countless stories about security, terrorism and the politics of Iraq. It’s the narrative that makes front page headlines and lights up the evening news. It’s an important narrative that needs to be told.
But it’s not the only story about Iraq.
I recently travelled to Basra with the newly launched PeaceTech Lab to participate in a PeaceTech Exchange (PTX). I met people with an incredible thirst for knowledge, particularly about technology. People who were doing something about it.
Welcome To PeaceTech, The Movement To Use Technology To End Violent Conflict And Extremism
Peacetech projects often tackle the typical drivers of conflict: inter-ethnic and inter-religious tensions, gender violence, and land disputes. "Most conflict today is about these local drivers," says Himelfarb. It's a matter of minority rights, corruption, authoritarian regimes. It's (addressing) these drivers which allow you to have a lasting peace and not lapse back into violence again." If those drivers are addressed earlier in a brewing conflict, there is also a better chance of avoiding all out war, and the associated casualties.
Wielding Technology Against Dangerous Speech in Burma Gains a Following
In January, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives supported the United States Institute of Peace, Myanmar ICT for Development Organization (MIDO) and Phandeeyar, a Burmese technology innovation lab, to host the country’s first, three-day PeaceTech Exchange in the country’s commercial capital, Rangoon.
PeaceTech brought together more than 120 civil society leaders from across Burma with 25 local and international technologists with the aim of developing innovative ways to address dangerous speech. Given the nature of dangerous speech in Burma, key religious figures also attended. Seventy percent of participants came from outside Rangoon, including the more remote ethnic areas of Rakhine, Kachin, Shan and Chin states.
Debating the draft Kurdish Constitution
The Kurdish Constitution will soon be open for public crowdsourcing.
Three Kurdish civil society organizations (The Alliance of Iraqi Minorities, the Kurdish Instutute for Elections and the Brave Youth Organization) will be engaging Kurdish citizens on the constitutional drafting process starting from July 2015using Legislation Lab (http://LegislationLab.org). The findings will be submitted to the Kurdish parliament as a contribution on the drafting process.
Mobile Technology and the Peacebuilding Reboot
With the advent of new technology and dissemination methods that reach nearly every corner of the globe, the face of peacebuilding is changing rapidly. In 2014, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) launched the PeaceTech Lab, an independent organization dedicated to harnessing the power of data, technology, and media for conflict prevention and peacebuilding. The Lab is a culmination of many smaller initiatives, developed by the Institute across its 30 year history, that bring together peacebuilding practitioners and innovators to identify high-impact opportunities for technology to bolster peacebuilding and stability operations. What follows is a series of case studies demonstrating a peacebuilding reboot, one that combines the hard tools of technology with the soft power objectives of peacebuilding carried out by diverse actors across the globe.
Wielding Technology to Combat Dangerous Speech in Myanmar
Myanmar continues to experience intermittent violence and power struggles that threaten its progress toward sustainable peace, even as the country has made progress in its democratic transition. To help address the tensions, the U.S. Institute of Peace recently linked technologists with civic activists to bolster efforts aimed at countering the kind of dangerous speech fueling the flames of inter-religious conflict.
A Female Technologist's Wanderings in Myanmar
In about 15 minutes I realised I had nothing to offer and I was going to have to completely rethink my game strategy. I had been travelling for 23 hours and arrived to a humid, bustling and traffic-clogged Yangon. I had been asked to attend a Peace Tech Exchange (PTX) run by the US Institute of Peace. This was my first and hopefully not my last.
In December I met three inspiring girls, all about 13 years old, in Mumbai India. They'd come from Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia, to demonstrate the mobile app they'd developed to counter gender violence. It sounded an alarm, sent a help message to friends, and shared their location. Simple but effective.
Fighting Hate Speech With Tech
Civil society organisations, technologists and others came together last week in Yangon to find ways to answer hate speech and dangerous speech with technology.
A video (in Burmese) on PeaceTech Lab's PeaceTech Exchange Myanmar in January 2015.
PeaceTech Exchange, Mumbai On Gender-based Violence
In order to assist the civil society organizations in India working on these issues, Samhita Social Ventures in collaboration with the US Institute of Peace and US Consulate in Mumbai is conducting a PeaceTech Exchange at the American School of Bombay on December 6 and 7, 2014. PeaceTech Exchange (PTX) on GBV is a two day interactive conference where USIP will pair local and international technologists with local and regional civil society organizations to provide training, resources and assistance that enable participants to harness low cost, easy to implement technologies to build their capacity and better meet their mission.
PeaceTech Camp - Iraq
On February 1-2, the US Institute of Peace will be hosting an event called the PeaceTech Camp in Iraq. PeaceTech Camps are two day, interactive conferences through which we pair local and international leaders in the technology community with local and regional civil society organizations to provide training, resources and assistance that enable participants to harness low cost, easy to implement technologies to build their capacity and better meet their mission.
USIP Running 'PeaceTech Camps' in Iraq
The U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) has conducted the first in a series of “PeaceTech Camps” in Iraq, an initiative that connects technologists who are skilled at low-cost, easy-to-use technologies with civil society organizations that work on a range of problems within Iraq.
Interactive Map Uses Crowdsourcing To Record Attacks On Journalists In Iraq
With 151 killings of journalists since 1992, including 93 unresolved murders, Iraq remains one of the most dangerous places to work in news. To track attacks on journalists in the country,Ibrahim Alsragey, an Iraqi reporter who directs the Baghdad-based Journalists Rights Defense Association, recently launched an online map. The map allows people who witness an attack to report it on the site and highlight its location.