Big Data and Conflict: Crowdsourcing Challenges for Peacebuilding in a Blog Dialogue

TechChange
by Charles
January 6, 2014

The release of the South Sudan Ushahidi map has spurred an online dialogue on the possibilities and challenges of how we understand crowdsourcing, big data, and technology for conflict management and peacebuilding. A series of blog posts from Chris Neu of TechChange, Daniel Solomon, and myself highlighted these issues, which I wanted to combine with brief descriptions because I think they’re an interesting series for those grappling with how we make use of emerging data and technology tools in pursuit of peace and stability. It’s worth giving all four a read, since they represent a nice arc of thinking about big data for conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

  1. Can a Crisis Map End the Crisis in South Sudan? by Chris Neu. This was the first post about the South Sudan Ushahidi map that got the chain of posts started. Greg Maly had advocated getting a map up as the situation in South Sudan began deteriorating, so with the help of Rob Baker, a deployment was launched. After the map was live, comments came back in – a number were constructively critical and thought provoking. The key points were focused on the utility of the data that could realistically be provided.
  2. Two Tweets Reveal Central Problem for South Sudan Crisis Map by Chris Neu. Chris’ following post brought up the important issue of ethics when using data submitted by individuals in such a chaotic environment. “Is it ethical to restrict information to the public? Is it ethical to reveal information about the vulnerable?” Both questions are valid, but the one that gained some traction focused on the data we expect to get from conflict zones.
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