Data for Peace and Security
As the world faces a significant upward trend in conflict—including a tripling of civil wars since 2007 and conflict increasingly prevalent in middle-income countries—practitioners in peace and security have sought to expand their toolkits to take advantage of the revolution in information gathering, data analytics, and machine learning.
Indeed, innovations in data are transforming the methods and the effectiveness of those working on early warning, conflict prevention, peacebuilding, and international security. A range of actors—multilateral organizations like the United Nations, governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the private sector—are investing in the capacity to make better use of data to better promote peace and security. In this context, there are many initiatives ongoing, often working in isolation. These include developing practical and innovative data sources, better ways to mine and analyze data, algorithms to predict outcomes, use of technologies like blockchain, and data-driven applications. In many cases, these efforts result in specific user-products which in turn inform the workflows of policy advisors, advocacy officers, peacebuilding and development practitioners, and researchers around the world.
Nonetheless, the peace and security field lags behind other sectors, like the humanitarian and development fields, in using data to drive innovation. It also lacks a community of practice across sectors (government, private sector, multilaterals, civil society). This community is needed in order to identify and build on lessons learned, prioritize the most important needs and gaps, and prevent duplication and supply-driven product development.
Discussions will be organized around dynamic, hour-long “sprints” that showcase practical solutions to problems that practitioners face in the peace and security field. The sprints will be focus on key challenges, for example:
- Dealing with complexity: leading-edge approaches to understanding and analyzing multidimensional risks and how they interact and influence peace and security, as well as how predictive analytics can inform our risk models
- Addressing polarization: data innovations to deal with radicalization, deep fakes, hate speech, misinformation and disinformation, and similar phenomena
- Improving practice: data-driven approaches to improving the effectiveness and inclusiveness of peace practice, such as mediation, protection of civilians, reconciliation, and building local resilience to conflict
- Understanding impact: new data sources and methods to create indicators and measures for building peace that are useful for monitoring and evaluation of intervention, including new data sources and technologies such as real-time ICT applications, location-specific data, crowdsourced information, and closer interaction between humans and machines
- Communicating for decision-making: innovative uses of visualization and other communication tools to connect decision-makers with timely and relevant data sources, including in peacekeeping operations, HQ situation rooms, and defining the costs of inaction
- The ethics of algorithms: understanding and managing ethical challenges related to the usage of innovative data-sources, algorithms and machine learning for peace and security
Expression of interest to attend
Participants should have knowledge of and/or experience with using and/or developing innovative, data-driven solutions for early warning, conflict prevention, peacebuilding and/or international security. Participants will also be peacebuilding practitioners who can provide field-based feedback on the showcased applications. Given the multi-stakeholder focus, participation will be open to a broad set of sectors, including representatives from governments and multilaterals, international and civil society organizations, think tanks, and the private sector.
To apply to attend the workshop, we request potential participants to review the agenda and fill out the online application here, which asks the following questions
- Describe in a brief paragraph the work and role of your organization in the space of data-driven innovations for peacebuilding and security.
- What is the project you would like to showcase during the seminar? Please provide a description of the problem it solves and the data-driven innovation that it applies.
- If your project is chosen to showcase during the seminar, then would you prefer to present it during one of the “sprints” and/or in in the lunchtime “marketplace of ideas”?
Participation is free, although participants from outside of New York will have to cover their own travel expenses. Reimbursement of flights and hotel costs will be offered to a limited number of participants from the Global South and Least Developed Countries.
The full-day program will contain a mix of (motivational) pitches, quick-and-dirty thematic sessions to collect and exchange as much information and insights as possible, a marketplace of ideas, and plenary feedback and discussion. Thematic areas will be organized in sprints, in which participants will showcase and learn about specific projects.
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