Building Peace with Big Data

Natalie Shoup Blog

Congratulations to Data-Pop Alliance’s co-founder Patrick Vinck and co-director Phuong Pham, whose KoBo Toolbox tool suite was highlighted by TechRepublic as one of 10 technology non-profits to follow!

KoBo Toolbox was one of three exciting tools featured in a session organized by Data-Pop Alliance on Peace Data Analysis at the second annual Build Peace conference hosted this past April in Nicosia, Cyprus. There was an excellent personal quality to the conference, which encouraged interesting synergies and innovative discussions.

The Peace Data Analysis session engaged three speakers – Alexandros Lordos, Ulrich Mans and Phuong Pham – in a discussion of tools and approaches regarding the relationship between data and conflict, peace dynamics and peacebuilding programs. The session began with presentations on each of the tools – Phuong Pham on peacebuildingdata.org and KoBo Toolbox, Alexandros Lordos on the SCORE (Social Cohesion and Reconciliation) Index, and Ulrich Mans on Impact Tracker and Datapool. Each offered insight into the potential of the tools or methodologies and incited interest in participants who then joined a group of their choosing for an interactive discussion. These smaller groups were difficult to break apart at the conclusion of the session, as they were very engaged in their conversations on the possible applications and complementarities of these innovative ideas.

Another aspect of the conference that stood out to us in particular was the integration of high and low tech approaches. This mix was reflected in the variety of the profiles of the participants and the importance placed on human-centered design for accessibility and impact, including creative approaches such as gamification and innovative art installations. An important insight we came away with was that technology and data are just one aspect of the peacebuilding process – comprehensive tools and approaches are key. Big Data is a new ecosystem that certainly has great potential to complement and add value to current peace-building processes and approaches. Inspiration for innovation can also come from other sectors, projects or humanitarian causes to help discover new ways to address conflict and scale up peacebuilding initiatives.

Check out more on the BuildPeace conference and the amazing work BuildUp is doing.