Data for Peace and Security

 

Concept

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.

Key topics

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

Opening panel

To set the stage, a Davos-style opening panel will discuss big-picture, forward-looking trends in the field. Panelists include:

  • Sheldon Himelfarb, President and CEO, PeaceTech Lab
  • Patrick Vinck, Research Director, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (also Data-Pop Alliance)
  • Rachel Brown, Executive Director, Over Zero
  • Robert Kirkpatrick, Director, UN Global Pulse
  • Monica Nthiga, South to South Lab Manager, Ushahidi

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.

Agenda (as of March 19, 2019)

**Please note the changed start time to 9am (instead of 8:30am).

9:00 –9:15
Registration and breakfast

Registration opens in front of Room 914 on the 9th floor of NYU Kimmel Center; light breakfast and welcome offered

9:15-9:30
Plenary

 

Introduction:

  • Bas Bijlsma - Senior Policy Officer at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Netherlands                                  

Welcoming remarks:

  • Ms. Sandra Pellegrom, Head of the Development, Human Rights and Humanitarian Department, Permanent Mission of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the UN

Plan for the day

  • Paige Arthur - Deputy Director of the Center on International Cooperation at NYU

9:30-10:15
Panel discussion

 

The biggest challenges in data applications to peace and security:
What are the big-picture, forward-looking trends in the field?

Moderator: Sheldon Himelfarb, President and CEO, PeaceTech Lab

Interactive panelists:

  • Rachel Brown, Executive Director, Over Zero
  • Robert Kirkpatrick, Director, UN Global Pulse
  • Monica Nthiga, South to South Lab Manager, Ushahidi
  • Patrick Vinck, Director, Peace & Human Rights Data Program, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

10:15-11:15
Sprint sessions #1

 

 

Sprint #1: 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

  • Room 903 - ECOWAS Warning and Response Network (ECOWARN)
    by Kebba Touray, Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS); Doug Bond and Sean Yeo, Harvard University and Virtual Research Associates, Inc.

Facilitator: Henk-Jan Brinkman, UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs

  • Room 905 - Instability Monitoring Analysis Platform
    by Melissa Duell and Christopher G. Istrati, The Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, US State Department

Facilitator: Michael Colaresi, University of Pittsburgh

  • Room 907 – HCSS Conflict Risk Assessment Project
    by Hannes Roos, The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies

Facilitator: Peter Kirechu, C4ADS

  • Room 909 - Peace Perceptions Poll
    by Julian Egan from International Alert and Leah Moncada, RIWI

Facilitator: Giovanna Kuele, Igarapé Institute                                                                                                                 

11:15–11:30

Coffee break

11:30-12:30
Sprint sessions #2

 

 

Sprint #2: Addressing polarization: data innovations to deal with radicalization, deep fakes, hate speech, misinformation and disinformation, and similar phenomena

  • Room 903 - Collecting high-resolution ground truth data for countering violent extremism
    by Jonne Catshoek and Mark van Embden Andres from Elva Community Engagement

Facilitator: Patrick Vinck, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative

  • Room 905 – Sentiment Analysis and Digital Focus Groups Project
    by Daanish Masood and Martin Waehlisch, UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs

Facilitator: Rina Amiri, Center on International Cooperation-NYU

  • Room 907 - Qatalog: An Online Platform for Monitoring Social Media and Public Radio Broadcasts
    by Jeremy Boy, UN Global Pulse

Facilitator: Monica Nthiga, Ushahidi

  • Room 909 – Photo and video verification using blockchain
    by Mounir Ibrahim, TruePic

Facilitator: Christopher Georgen, Topl

 

12:30-13:00
Report back from group sessions

 

Facilitators: Paige Arthur (CIC-NYU) and Ayham Al Maleh (UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs)

Rapid-fire report back from the facilitator of each group (2-3 minutes) and posting to the wall of ideas in plenary space.

                                  

13:00-14:15
Walking lunch in the marketplace of ideas

 

Walking lunch & networking through the marketplace of ideas in plenary space, which will feature additional innovative applications and solutions.

Featuring:

Visualizing Climate and Violence Risks in the Sahel

Giovanna Kuele, The Igarapé Institute

Data for Risk Monitoring

Sophia Armanski and Phoebe Girouard Spencer

The World Bank

ChitChat: Communication with People in Crisis

Josje Spierings

Centre for Innovation, Leiden University

VForecast: Predicting Adverse Regime Transitions

Andreas Beger, Predictive Heuristics

Countering Violent Extremism through Lifestories

Arlinda Rrustemi, The Hague Center for Strategic Studies

44 Indicators on SDG16+ Actualization: A Framework for Policy Analysis

David Hammond, Institute for Economics & Peace

UN "SAGE" Incidents/Events Tracking Database System
Rajkumar Cheney Krishnan from UN Operations and Crisis Centre/Peace Operations

Protection of Civilians

Hans Rouw, PAX

Early Warning Dashboard and Predictive Models

Bas Bijlsma, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands

Visualizing Complex Conflict Environments Through Machine Vision and Open Flight Tracking

Peter Kirechu, C4ADS

Mathematical Models and Data Science Measurements of Sustainable Peace

Larry Liebovitch, Queens College

14:15-15:15

Sprint sessions #3

Sprint #3: 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

  • Room 903 - PREVIEW, the Federal Foreign Office’s data analysis tool for crisis early warning

by Nina Bergmann and Georg Kalckreuth from the German Federal Foreign Office

Facilitator: Doug Bond, Harvard University

  • Room 905 – Whiteflag
    by Timo Schless from Royal Netherlands Airforce and Vincent Graf from the International Committee of the Red Cross

Facilitator: Jeremy Boy, UN Global Pulse

  • Room 907 – Data for decisions at the UN

1. Crisis risk dashboard for early warning
by Corrado Scognamillo and Shouryadipta Sarkar from UNDP;  

2. Data, analytics, and Security Council briefings
by Avishan Bodjnoud from UN Peace Operations;

Facilitator: Evan Cinq-Mars, CIVIC

  • Room 909 – Early Warning Project
    by Lawrence Woocher from United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Facilitator: Miranda Sissons, Center on International Cooperation-NYU

                                                                                                                     

15:15-15:30

Coffee break

15:30-16:30
Sprint sessions #4

 

Sprint #4: Improving practice and understanding impact: data-driven approaches and new data sources to create indicators for improving the effectiveness of peacebuilding practice that are useful for monitoring and evaluation of intervention such as real-time ICT applications, location-specific data, crowdsourced information, and closer interaction between humans and machines

  • Room 903 - Locating hidden graves in Mexico using machine learning
    by Patrick Ball from Human Rights Data Analysis Group

Facilitator: Nigel Snoad

  • Room 905 – Sentry
    by Dan Henebery from Hala Systems

Facilitator: Bas Bijlsma, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Netherlands

  • Room 907 – Real-time, public conflict data from ACLED
    by Roudabeh Kishi from Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED)

Facilitator: Christina Goodness, UN Department of Peacebuilding and Political Affairs-Department of Peace Operations

  • Room 909 – Syria Mapping Project
    by Kate Keator from the Carter Center

Facilitator: Josje Spierings, Leiden University

 

16:30 – 17:30
Wrap-up & closing

Rapid-fire report back from the facilitator of each group and posting to the wall of ideas

  • Ayham Al Maleh

Mapping suggestions for follow-up, including how best to connect going forward

  • Bas Bijilsma

Closing of the seminar

  • Paige Arthur and Henk-Jan Brinkman

Contact us

For more information, contact Shavon Bell at s.bell@nyu.edu