Posts By Charles Shields:


How can social media help peacebuilders in an information environment?



As Jordan and I wrap up our FrontlineSMS/Ushahidi training here in Kisumu, Kenya we picked up a number of valuable observations that can be borne in mind by others as they prepare their own projects using these pieces of software.

The first and most important is to plan your “work arounds”.  During our preparatory afternoon the first day we arrived, FrontlineSMS worked on my MacBook …



Jordan and I are happily ensconced at the Partnership for Peace office here in Kisumu, Kenya preparing to facilitate a course with local leaders on the use of FrontlineSMS and Ushahidi.  This is exciting, especially as Kenya is preparing for another round of elections soon and will be using a new voting system in this round of elections.

We received a warm welcome from our …



For the frustrated governance advisor, exasperated force commander, and perpetually under funded election observer the notion that technology can solve our problems is a tempting one. But as Dr. Raul Zambrano of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Dr. Matthew Levinger from the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) point out, the challenges faced by development and peace making professionals can only be solved by human ingenuity, social awareness …



The BBC reported today (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-12976254) on the value that Twitter has provided to stock traders.  This is an example of how social media, when well filtered, can have a verifiable positive effect .  For our purposes, it also shows that humanitarian organizations and NGOs can leverage Twitter as a less expensive means of deriving on-the-ground information that is actionable and reliable.



You land in a country that is recovering from a long war.  The infrastructure is limited, but there is a nascent democratic government.  To make up for the lack of infrastructure, citizens use text messages sent to a central receiver or Twitter feeds to let government officials know what they need.  I’m describing E-Democracy, and using a platform like Swiftriver, these text messages and Tweets can be organized by time …



Much of the event data that new technology is making available to practitioners contains geographic information, and to take advantage of this we need a way of thinking about geographic information in a predictive way.  Combining today’s post with last week’s “Corralling the Data instead of the Data Corralling Us” post, we get a data filtering methodology that gives us data that is timely and geographically relevant in the …



For those working in the field of conflict prevention and humanitarian assistance, reliable real-time data plays a critical role in staging a successful intervention.  As a recent discussion at the U.S. Institute of Peace with Dr. Steven Livingston made clear, the humanitarian policy world is dealing with an environment where data gathering technology is advancing at an exceptional rate.  The conversation then addressed the challenge created by all this technology; …