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Data for Peace Conference 2023 Program

Data for Peace Conference 2023 • Day 1

Time (ET)

Monday October 16

08:00 – 08:50 Registration and Security Check
Breakfast and coffee available
09:00 – 9:15
Conference Opening

Welcome Introduction:
Branka Panic, NYU Center on International Cooperation Fellow, AI for Peace Founding Director

Welcome Remarks:
Eugene Chen, Director, Prevention and Peacebuilding, NYU Center on International Cooperation
Guy Ryder, Under-Secretary-General for Policy, UN EOSG
09:15 – 09:45
Keynote Messages

Nidhi Hebbar, Head of Information Literacy, Google
09:45 – 10:45
Setting the Scene: Beyond Hype: Discovering the True Value of Data and Emerging Technologies for Sustaining Peace

This session is devoted to a thorough examination of historical, contemporary, and prospective technological landscapes and their significance in advancing the agenda of sustaining peace and prevention. We will delve into the intricate domain of data analytics, ethical considerations, and innovative methodologies, elucidating their capacity to transform raw data into practical insights, thereby augmenting diplomatic efforts, conflict resolution, and global humanitarian initiatives. We invite you to participate in this enlightening discussion as we move beyond mere buzzwords and uncover the genuine potential of data as a dynamic catalyst for peace in our perpetually evolving world.
10:45 – 11:10Coffee Break
11:15 – 12:15
Expert Discussion:
What to Consider when Working with Data: Perspectives from the field

Many organizations want to make use of the opportunities that data can provide – whether by collecting their own original data or using external datasets to promote data-driven decision making. But among the community of peacebuilders and conflict prevention experts, there is a lack of cohesive understanding around what best practices are for data collection, how data should be maintained and its quality assured, how it can best be integrated with other datasets, and how organizations themselves can position their internal capacity to meet the challenges of data use. This panel brings together representatives from ACLED, the OCHA Centre for Humanitarian Data, and the United Nations Development Programme’s Crisis Bureau to discuss what key points organizations should consider when working with data. The panel will highlight the best practices of data collection, standardization, and management; the challenges of data interoperability; and the personnel, training, and capacity considerations that organizations must grapple with when shifting to this new paradigm.

Organizer: The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)

12:15 – 13:15Lunch Break
13:15 – 14:25
Expert Discussion:
Using Data and AI for Conflict Early Warning and Crisis Prevention

The Signal Program at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative analyzed over 3,000 academic articles and conducted 26 interviews with practitioners to understand how data and analytics are used in conflict and atrocity prediction and monitoring. This presentation highlights key findings, revealing gaps between academic research and practical frontline applications. Following this presentation experiences of EWEA in Côte d'Ivoire will be presented, and the potential of early warning to address environmental concerns. An early warning system gathers and processes information for decision-making, enabling authorities to take appropriate action when a threat, such as illegal gold-panning harming the environment, is detected. In addition, the Violence & Impacts Early-Warning System (VIEWS) research consortium will present innovative conflict forecasting approaches, addressing challenges in predictive signal extraction, reliance on historical data, and quantifying uncertainty. These solutions involve specialized Artificial Neural Networks, unstructured data utilization, and probabilistic components to generate meaningful distributions of future conflict scenarios, including unlikely yet significant events.

Organizer: UNICEF, UNDP, GDELT, VIEWS, Peace Research Institute Oslo

14:25 – 14:30Quick Guide through Breakouts
14:30 – 15:30

Breakouts #1

14:30 – 15:30
Panel Discussion
Room: Axel's Island
SESSION 1 : The Architecture of AI-Enabled Disinformation in Africa – And its Impact on Conflict

In the next few years, we may expect states and intergovernmental bodies to increase regulation of AI-based communication technologies, particularly as regards their effects on the global public. There is a gap, however, in our understanding of what regulatory efforts can do to address the impact of AI-enabled disinformation on political violence in fragile and conflict affected settings. Disinformation on social media, for example, has been empirically linked to increases in civil unrest, notably in relation to polarization around elections.

Organizer: United Nations University - Centre for Policy Research
14:30 – 15:30
Short Presentations
Room: Goblin King
SESSION 2.1 • 14:30 – 15:30
1. Leveraging Data for Anticipatory Crisis Prevention: Spotlight on climate security risks

This session is cancelled

2.Harnessing the Power of Big Data to Anticipate Climate-Induced Forced Displacement

Slow-onset climate hazards, such as drought, sea-level rise, and other weather-related disasters, have become more frequent and intense due to climate change, leading to arise in climate-induced displacement. To address the issue of slow-onset climate-induced displacement, this session will introduce a CRAF'd funded project focusing on a grid-level approach combining UNHCR's detailed registration data on forcibly displaced populations with grid-level-based data from remote sensing, organic data sources, and traditional country-based data sources, to develop a risk index of displacement with a predictive horizon of 6-12 months. Remote sensing climate data at the grid level will play a crucial role in predicting displacement risks and understanding environmental shifts affecting factors like food security, rainfall, temperature, vegetation, land use, and soil moisture as it provides almost real-time observations at regular frequency and with high spatial detail. By combining data and technology, the project will equip humanitarian agencies and stakeholders with the tools to efficiently predict and respond to slow-onset climate hazards to benefit the most vulnerable populations. 

Andrea Pellandra, Senior Data Scientist, UNHCR

3. Google's Crisis Response Portfolio: Using AI for social good
Victoria Baxter, Head of Climate & Crisis Response Partnerships, Google
14:30 – 15:30
Short Presentations
Room: Doozers
SESSION 3.1 • 14:30 – 15:00
Mapping Before Maps

Monica Nthiga, Regional Director - Eastern & Southern Africa, Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

SESSION 3.2 • 15:00 – 15:30
Crowdsourced Insights in Crisis Response: Real-world examples with Premise

In times of crisis and conflict, responding swiftly to the evolving needs of affected communities is paramount. However, access to timely and accurate data has often been a bottleneck in effective response efforts. This is where Premise – a crowdsourced insights company – steps in to offer a transformative solution. Premise boasts an extensive network of over 6m global smartphone users across 140+ countries, including hard-to-reach places. Our technology empowers this vast community to source actionable and trustworthy data in near-real-time. This approach not only democratizes data gathering but also offers a unique perspective that is often inaccessible through traditional means.

In the face of crises, be it natural disasters, conflict situations, or public health emergencies, Premise allows organizations to turn to those affected to gather data on critical issues such as food availability, medical supply shortages, infrastructure damage, and more, becoming more responsive to their needs. This presentation will walk the audience through some real-world examples on how Premise has supported partners to inform their programming in places like Ukraine, Mali and Myanmar.

Organizer: Premise Data
14:30 – 15:30
Short Presentations
Room: Dark Crystal
SESSION 4.1 • 14:30 – 15:00
Applying Open-Source Data to Estimate Unexploded Ordnance Presence in Syria

The ongoing conflict in Syria has proven to be a humanitarian catastrophe. Alongside ongoing armed combat and a crushing socioeconomic downturn, civilians must continue to navigate the hidden threat of unexploded ordnance (UXO) detonation. Explosive remnants of war have a resounding impact on civilian life, economic activity, and environmental health, making them a crucial issue demanding attention from the international community. Drawing upon our rich database of conflict events, the Center produced a method of estimating the presence of unexploded munitions in Syria and is currently working with the humanitarian demining community to validate its method and share the data more widely. This allows the Center to provide information that enables decision-makers to identify areas where UXOs are of greatest concern and take action to reduce future fatalities. Utilizing this novel data approach, the Center has released five non-technical studies examining the distribution and types of explosive weapons used in Syria between 2012 and 2021.

Organizer: The Carter Center

SESSION 4.2 • 15:00 – 15:30
Whiteflag Protocol: Preventing unnecessary bloodshed with blockchain

Raising the white flag in the digital world - Whiteflag is an internationally neutral and accessible means of digital communication. In conflict areas, it offers a solution to the current technical limitations in the sharing of information. So You could say that Whiteflag is a potential game changer. The "white flag" is the internationally recognized, protective sign of truce or ceasefire. With the Whiteflag communication protocol, raising the white flag is also possible in the digital world. The protocol is based on International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and describes predefined messages and their meanings. These messages refer to the location of protected buildings, such as hospitals or humanitarian convoys. Messages are exchanged securely over a public blockchain network. The presentation is about the implementation of the Whiteflag Protocol in South Sudan with Save The Children, Pax for Peace and others.

Organizer: Whiteflag Foundation
15:30 – 16:00Coffee Break
16:00 – 17:00

Breakouts #2

16:00 – 17:00
Panel Discussion
Room: Axel's Island
Data and Terrorism: Challenges, risks, and opportunities

Terrorism remains a persistent threat to international security, with the threat becoming geographically more diffuse and ideologically more diverse than 20 years ago. Evolutions in terrorist capacities, targeting, methodologies and territorial spread continue to challenge responses to the threat, particularly transnationally; while the collection and collation of such information within and across borders -essential to designing data-informed, evidence-based approaches to countering terrorism and the prevention of violent extremism – remains challenged by definitional and information-sharing risks. This session will introduce expert presentations on global and regional trends on terrorism, delve into such challenges and identify opportunities and best practices to staying ahead of the threat.

Organizer: UN Office of Counter-Terrorism
16:00 – 17:00
Panel Discussion
Room: Doozers
The Comprehensive Planning and Performance Assessment System for UN Peacekeeping Missions

Peacekeeping missions are one of the world’s most effective tools in helping countries navigate the difficult path from conflict to peace. The Department of Peace Operations leads 12 missions whose peacekeeping activities affect the daily safety and security of approximately 83 million people. As part of the Action for Peacekeeping (A4P) initiative launched by the UN Secretary-General in 2018 to strengthen operations, it is critical to improve how peacekeeping missions assess and show their impact on the ground. A4P made it a priority to better understand a peacekeeping mission’s contribution to change and to evaluate its performance. The Comprehensive Planning and Performance Assessment System (CPAS) is the first truly comprehensive tool to link the context of a country with peacekeeping planning, data, results and reporting. CPAS enables the leadership of peacekeeping operations to take informed evidence-based decisions to enhance mandate implementation, which is designed to more rapidly de-escalate conflicts and improve the lives of millions of people living in these countries.

Organizer: UN Department of Peace Operations
16:00 – 17:00
Panel Discussion
Room: Goblin King
SESSION 3.1 • 16:00 – 16:30
Assessing and Mapping Conflict Exposure Worldwide in Real Time

How many people are exposed to armed conflict at any time? We introduce a new conflict "exposure" measurement, which we calculate as the number of people living in specific locations of violence. Our new method of estimating the local to global burden of conflict is the first high resolution assessment of populations enduring political violence worldwide. We explore alternative operationalizations of the measure by varying proximity thresholds, repeat exposure, and exposure to discrete forms of violence. Real-time, globally standardized, high-resolution conflict event data provides accurate information on local violence patterns. We find that approximately 1 in 6 people worldwide (1.6 billion) were exposed to organized armed conflict within 5km of their home during 2022. Further, in highly conflict-affected states, one in three people are exposed to violence. We demonstrate how the subnational exposure levels display distinct patterns to event frequency and fatality intensity, suggesting that groups in conflict have strategies for where and which populations are likely to be most exposed to conflict. The flexibility of this measure allows for targeted assessments of conflicts based on who and where is exposed, and by distinguishing between different forms of political violence, the size and impact rate of armed groups, conflict forms, and diffusion patterns. As conflict has evolved, so too has the risk profile for populations living in the path of violence, and the responses that are necessary and appropriate.

Organizer: ACLED

SESSION 3.2 • 16:30 – 17:00
Peace Analytics: Peace and Transition Process Tracker

Peace agreements are difficult to implement because they involve non-linear forwards and backwards moments. Progress requires local constituencies and international supporters to engage in "adaptive management" of implementation tasks, in processes that often have to be rebuilt over time. Multiple sources of structured and unstructured peace data exists that can support this endeavor but bringing them together requires understanding (a) the difficulties of defining success and failure in implementation (b) the difficulties of finding interoperable data that is a suitable measurement of outcomes (c) and the difficulties of making any tracking mechanism useful to different end users who seek to engage in peace agreement implementation. The PA-X Tracker aims to both provide a mechanism for tracking, but also operate as an endeavor in surmounting some of the fundamental problems of implementation itself - coordination between different types of organizations with different types of knowledge and different 'pieces of the picture'.

Organizer: University of Edinburgh, Peace & Conflict Resolution Evidence Platform, PEACEREP
16:00 – 17:00
Short Presentations:

Room: Dark Crystal
SESSION 4.1 • 16:00 – 16:30
Integrating AI and Game Theory: The new horizon for peacebuilding

In an era marked by the highest violent conflict levels since WWII, traditional methods of diplomacy and conflict resolution face monumental challenges. CACR is at the forefront, leveraging deep learning and game theory to delve deep into conflict dynamics. Utilizing AI-driven algorithms, NLP, and macroeconomic modelling, we decipher extensive datasets, unveiling intricate patterns and interactions shaping global challenges. This session delves into how CACR's potent combination of technology and data-driven strategies are set to redefine diplomacy, ensuring insights that guide sustainable peace.

Organizer: Centre for Alternative Conflict Resolution

SESSION 4.2 • 16:00 – 17:00
Analyzing the Information Landscape in Peacekeeping Settings: Challenges and ways forward

Mis- and disinformation presents a threat to the safety and security of peacekeepers as well as the ability of missions to implement their mandates. The information landscapes in host countries are complex and rapidly changing, with both online (e.g. social media) and offline e.g. (radio, work of mouth) components. Monitoring and analysis of the information environment is fundamental to informing response efforts and anticipatory action.

In this presentation, we will discuss the challenges both technical and contextual—with media monitoring and analysis in peacekeeping mission contexts. We will then present a proposed bespoke platform—which draws on technology developments from inside and outside the UN, including efforts on radio mining and customized cross-platform analysis—which addresses some of these specific challenges and will feed into decision-making processes. The presentation will end with a call to action for support and collaboration.

Organizer: United Nations Department of Peace Operations

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