USIP's Science, Technology & Peacebuilding Roundup

United States Institute of Peace


Center of Innovation: Science, Technology and Peacebuilding

Weekly News Roundup, June 28 - July 4, 2012

Table of Contents

How Crisis Mapping Saved Lives in Haiti
Student volunteers in Boston working online with the diaspora using free mapping technology from Africa could help save lives in another country thousands of miles away without ever setting foot in said country. In time, these reactive and organic volunteer-driven efforts in Haiti, and those that followed that same year in Chile, Pakistan and Russia, led to the launch of the award-winning Standby Volunteer Task Force who use their live mapping skills to support humanitarian, human rights, development and media organizations.
See the full article (National Geographic, Patrick Meier, 7/2/12)
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Stan McChrystal, Drone Skeptic
[Retired Army Gen. Stanley] McChrystal, who revolutionized the Joint Special Operations Command's intelligence operations, said drones provide merely "one part of an understanding. We need to understand what drones are not." Drones are no substitute for information derived from human beings, the former commander emphasized, on the ground in dangerous, confusing places.
See the full article (Wired, Spencer Ackerman, 7/1/12)
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Eric Schmidt on Technology vs. Dictatorship
Before Tunisia's Jasmine Revolution, [Eric] Schmidt pointed out, the regime had extensive control of civil society and virtually total control of media -- all media but the Internet. An active opposition had meanwhile been struggling against the government for years, but it had no effective way of organizing itself. "One way to understand the Arab revolution," Schmidt said, "is that it was a failure to censure and control the internet." The lesson for dictators? Get ahead of the curve on that. The good news for democracy advocates: This is hard to do.
See the full article (Atlantic, J.J. Gould, 6/30/12)
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Jamming Grenades, Micro-Missiles: Israel's Latest War Tech, Uncovered
Paris in June. Some come for the shopping, the museums, the sidewalk cafes, the romantic evening strolls through the city of light. . And then there's the crowd that's jonesing for the hangar-and-asphalt vibe of Eurosatory, [a] massive biannual military bazaar. The exhibition is designed to be a showcase for European land systems companies, but it is also the best hands-on venue for the latest technology and innovations in Israel's often-secretive defense industry.
See the full article (Wired, Zachary Lum, 6/29/12)
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"Conflict Gold" Trade Continues in Face of U.S. Law
Gold traders in the eastern Congo district of Ituri have heard of the Dodd-Frank act, or "Obama's law" as it's known here, but don't see why it's got anything to do with them. Electronics companies such as Dell and Intel have signed up to codes of conduct excluding conflict minerals from their supply chains, and jewelry retailers are pressuring manufacturers to do the same. But in Congo, exporters are still finding routes to get gold from remote regions to market.
See the full article (Reuters, Jonny Hogg and Jan Harvey, 6/29/12)
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Good News For Spies and Dictators: 'FreedomBox' Is in Danger of an Early Death
It's a developers' nightmare word: vaporware - a term for hyped new software that's never delivered. FreedomBox, an ambitious free-software project designed to embed privacy and security into netizens' routers, seems on the verge of earning that label. The ultimate goal is to give every internet user, no matter how technophobic, a simple tool that can protect their data from prying hands, be it from ruthless hackers, nosy neighbors, profiling algorithms or repressive governments.
See the full article (Wired, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, 6/28/12)
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Did we miss anything?



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