PeaceTech Lab In The Media
Peace News Network
Can technology help build peace? Experts gathered in Washington DC earlier this year for a summit by PeaceTech Lab to investigate how tech is being used, and can be developed, to advance peace.
In a world full of divisiveness and conflict, one organization is working to use technology to accelerate and scale peacebuilding while empowering women founders.
Religion News Service
Christians who convert to Islam in East African countries often become targets for recruitment by extremist groups such as the Islamic State and al-Shabab, the al-Qaida affiliate in East Africa. Such is one finding in a June report from PeaceTech Lab, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that works to reduce violent conflict using technology. The report comes at a time when governments and religious leaders in East Africa are increasingly concerned about Islamic radicalization in a region that includes Somalia and the Kenyan coast.
Fake News is not just a problem for citizens in the US. Disinformation on social media has been blamed for fueling violence in conflict zones all over the world. PeaceTech Lab has been tracking hate speech in South Sudan, and has come out with a lexicon of terms that are likely to incite violence.
mest Africa is excited to announce MEST Portfolio Company Dropque has been accepted into the PeaceTech Accelerator program in Washington D.C. The PeaceTech Accelerator is an eight-week program providing intensive mentorship and training, with particular emphasis on cloud technology, to startups developing and using innovative technologies to help to bring about the end of violent conflict and promote sustainable peace.
The last few months, we here at NDItech have had the great opportunity to talk civic innovation, transparency and accountability with dozens of civic groups, journalists and government officials through a few TechCamps and PeaceTech Exchanges. These programs, put on by the State Department and PeaceTech Lab, respectively, link technical experts with innovators across the globe to brainstorm, “pitch” and ultimately bring to life smart, contextualized tech solutions to pressing community problems. It’s been a pleasure for us (your bloggers) to be a part of these sessions, which we wanted to share a bit about with you all (our loyal readers).
In a metallic gold tent in the atrium of the United States Institute of Peace, my colleague and I sang “Happy Birthday” to an eighty-year-old woman living in Mexico City. Rendered life-size on screen, she sat in a tent that looked just the same as the one we sat in, but with our faces looking back at hers, 2,409 miles away.
PeaceTech Lab and Shared Studios
Study after study reinforces the idea that peace is created through deliberate dialogue between diverse groups. The Shared_Studios Portal seeks to empower individuals and communities through technology to advance their unique goals, not as consumers but as citizens. Portals create space for dialogue and are a demonstration of how technology, if constructed well, can thrive as a vehicle for peace. We envision a world where Portals regularly deliver the benefits of globalization to communities that are often left out and believe that peace will take root when diverse groups speak face-to-face. For many, the Portal is where this begins.
As technological innovation develops at a blistering pace, it has fundamentally altered how conflicts develop and play out, and how peacebuilders prevent and mitigate violence. Throughout history, technology has driven warfare and international security. To take one example, the development of nuclear weapons led to the doctrine of mutually assured destruction as the prevailing norm of the Cold War era. For centuries, however, most of this technology was only available to states. Today, individuals are empowered by technology to have a voice in international affairs and instantly connect with people on issues of convergence, according to USIP and technology experts speaking at PeaceTech Lab’s annual summit on May 8.
With its headquarters located within direct line of sight of the Lincoln Memorial and across the street from the Department of State, The United States Institute for Peace (USIP) is an independent institution devoted to the nonviolent prevention and mitigation of deadly conflicts abroad. Nestled within this organization is a small but mighty team of future-facing individuals which comprise the PeaceTech Lab. Led by Sheldon Himelfarb, the Lab "works to reduce violent conflict using technology, media, and data to accelerate and scale peace building efforts." On May 8 and 9th, this team convened technologists, creatives, celebrities, and industry leaders at the PeaceTech Summit 2018 to discuss how technology can be leveraged for the planet's greater good.
As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg works to convince 2 billion users — and United States lawmakers — that the company can address issues related to privacy, disinformation, and hate speech, they also acknowledge they have struggled to understand how people in “high-risk areas” might use the far-reaching online platform “to create real risks of harm and violence,” said Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president for U.S. public policy, at the PeaceTech Summit in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.
Nearly every day, startup companies and nonprofits alike from India to Iraq, the U.S. to Ukraine, South Africa to Sweden are tackling the drivers of violent conflict using tech, media, and data in new and exciting ways. Whether it’s the brilliant website “I Paid a Bribe.com”, which is being used in over 60 countries to expose corruption, or Annona, the startup company in our PeaceTech Accelerator that is tackling food security with software to connect small farmers in Africa with global buyers.
Disruptions and regional unrest in today’s world have far-reaching implications. Increasingly, it is becoming clear that peace is not just a social ideal, but a necessary condition for international commerce. Dr. Rohini Srihari is Chief Data Scientist at PeaceTech Lab, housed at the United States Institute of Peace. Her work has spanned the areas of artificial intelligence, multimedia information retrieval, computational linguistics and text mining. Dr. Srihari spoke with us regarding a multi-purpose technological solution she has developed that delivers critical data for international business and peacebuilding. This technology is called groundTruth, and it provides not only real-time monitoring of disruptive risks across the world, but also historical trends and predictive forecasting across a multitude of factors.
PEACETECH LAB NETHERLANDS
The first PeaceTech Lab Netherlands podcast episode is here! Hear about how Dutch expertise on food and water security is adding to the new vibrant tech-focused approach to maintaining peace and preventing conflict.
Security issues shut down businesses in the Western world, but Afghans are increasingly using technology to keep work going. An explosive boom in mobile phone usage and in apps is shaping the way people communicate, stay safe, keep informed and fill governance voids. This fast growth has spawned some concerns within the Afghan government over the possibility of terrorists also using technology. But the wide support these web-based platforms tailored to Afghanistan’s specific needs enjoy has stymied government efforts to overregulate the internet.
It sounds like a fairly basic solution for today’s energy crisis. Take large amounts of organic waste, convert it to biogas, generate electricity and heat, and store the excess for later use, making life easier for millions of people without access to sources of reliable energy. Simple.
Yet, behind this basic approach from a startup called SEaB Energy Ltd. lies a more complicated and fundamental issue. The world is a big place with a lot of people and many problems that can’t be quickly or easily solved. How exactly can technology play a role and make a meaningful difference in the lives of citizens around the globe?
Washington, D.C. is becoming a hotbed for collaboration among government agencies, non-profit ventures, charitable foundations and private investors, all looking to drive social change through technology. The third cohort of the PeaceTech Accelerator, an accelerator dedicated to reducing violence and scaling peacebuilding efforts through technology, includes OneRelief, a non-profit charitable donation platform that is taking an innovative approach to micro-donations.
Like air or water, people tend to take data for granted. A gigabyte here or there generally doesn’t add up to a lot of money. But what if one gigabyte of data cost more than nice percent of a person’s average monthly income? Read how SuperFluid Labs, a member of the PeaceTech Accelerator's 3rd cohort, is working to solve this problem.
United Nations Mission in South Sudan and the United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner
This report from UNMISS and OHCHR analyzes the right to freedom of opinion and expression in South Sudan from July 2016 to December 2017. PeaceTech Lab Africa's integral work on hate speech in South Sudan is referenced on page 30.
Listen to PeaceTech Lab Africa Director, Theo Dolan, discuss the fourth season of Sawa Shabab, a radio drama aimed at helping youth in South Sudan resolve conflicts peacefully.
PEACE NEWS NETWORK
Check out Peace News Network's top picks for peace initiatives to keep an eye on this year, featuring PeaceTech Lab's work on stopping hate speech in Kenya and South Sudan.
C5, the specialist technology investment group with offices in Washington, London, Munich, Luxembourg and Bahrain, has partnered with the IPSI Institute and Creative Learning to host participants in Washington, DC.
The startups are bringing data to social impact, and working to help small farmers. Applications are open to join the 2018 cohort of the D.C.–based program.
DAILY NEWS EGYPT
The death toll from global terrorism-related attacks accounted for approximately 6,123 fatalities in 2017, including the Friday Rawda mosque attack in Egypt, according to data from the “terrorist attacks map”, a collaboration between the Esri Story Maps team and PeaceTech Lab, made to present a chronology of terrorist attacks around the globe.
Looking for some big money in exchange for support and recognition? You could try a business accelerator. In all, 19 South African and international accelerators tracked by Ventureburn have so far this year given out a total of $17-million in funding to 1,241 startups. At about $37,000 per startup, that isn’t anything to sniff at.
Sheldon Himelfarb talks about how technology is being used to fight corruption – and why the world needs initiatives like Shield in the Cloud.
Sheldon Himelfarb, CEO of US-based PeaceTech Lab which has researched how social media impacts political awareness, said social media can help break down barriers between people across the globe.
But he warned researchers were still trying to assess whether the selective nature of what is published helps or hinders efforts to gain a fuller picture.
"I believe in my conversations with university students. They seem to imply they are more aware about parts of the world than certainly their parents were. But whether or not they are more accurately informed I don't know."
A report by PeaceTech Lab, operating under the United States Institute for Peace, shows that words that were once used against a specific ethnicity in South Sudan are now being used to target different groups to match the changing context of the conflict. Theo Dolan, Director of PeaceTech Lab Africa, says abusive and dangerous language continues to be disseminated across various social media platforms.
In this podcast, INPROL Director Lelia Mooney and Senior Program Assistant Chelsea Dreher discuss data collection technologies with Derek Caelin, Senior Specialist for PeaceTech Lab. Derek works on the Lab’s PeaceTech Exchange program, an initiative to connect peacebuilders in conflict zones to media, technology, and data for them help them achieve their objectives. Working with local partners, Derek and the PeaceTech Exchange team have put on workshops in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to address issues such as Transparency & Accountability, Countering Violent Extremism and Gender Based Violence.
As an independent nonprofit, the Lab brings together do-gooders that run the professional gamut: engineers, entrepreneurs, activists, conflict experts, social scientists, data scientists, and more. The concept is simple: Bring together bright, optimistic minds in order to find solutions that will bring peace and prosperity to communities around the globe.