The Lab's Roundup highlighting stories on technology, media, and data in peacebuilding.


 Working to reduce violent conflict using technology, media, and data to accelerate and scale peacebuilding efforts.

PeaceTech In Action

Stories from the field.

Bringing Market Insight To Conflict
Much of the population cares about excessive water consumption and the impact it has on the environment, but even the best of us fail to do everything we can to stop climate change. For example, about 1 in 3 people leave the tap on when brushing their teeth. These are the sort of realities traditional market insight companies miss out on, but it’s exactly the type of insight WeSeeThrough, a current PeaceTech Accelerator cohort member, is working to reveal.

Using wearable technology, WeSeeThrough performs video analytics to capture a first-person view of people’s daily habits for market research to demonstrate that consumers don’t always do as they say. This helps WeSeeThrough to not only more holistically understand consumer behavior but also what could realistically bring about behavioral change.

“Because you capture people on camera, you get the full narrative,” says CEO Katie Hollier. “Companies know what people buy on the shop floor, but they don’t know who ate it in the household, and what the decision making process was, and so forth. When we give volunteers cameras to strap on their heads, we get everything in context. You see their emotions.”

And now, WeSeeThrough is pivoting their work to bring these video-based behavioral change tactics to mitigate violence in conflict regions. Through the use of video observation, WeSeeThrough believes there is both potential to establish behavioral change and a greater chance to see early-warning signs of future conflict.

“Behavioral change is absolutely vital to understanding what people are doing. We want to take this technology and see how people are living, and capture what their thoughts and feelings are to see how we can help peacebuilding organizations create more sustainable peaceful solutions,” says Hollier.


Big Data Can Help Estimate
Food Security In Rwanda
In the 2018 Technology and Innovation Report by UNCTAD, a study by the World Food Programme in Rwanda investigated the potential of mobile phone data as a proxy indicator for food security, by comparing the results of a nation-wide household survey conducted with data on credit purchases, or “top-ups”, and mobile phone activity. What they found was a strong correlation between credit purchases and consumption of several food items, suggesting that food security could be estimated through models based on mobile phone activity.

PeaceTech Pulse

What we're listening to, reading, watching, and following this week.

What We're Reading
On the threshold of midterm elections, it’s sobering to read this Axios piece by Sarah Fisher about fake news and disinformation. Fisher provides an eye-opening litany of transgressions by repressive and non-repressive regimes, showing that no online media, social or otherwise, is immune from distortion. Social media manipulation has become highly effective and so commonplace that it's almost impossible to control, let alone discern fact from fiction.

So what do we do about it?

There are advocates for a few different solutions: those who want to hold the platforms and media companies accountable; those who want to invest in media literacy; and those who feel we should develop innovative technology - including re-architecting the Internet to limit anonymity - to prevent this manipulation. All are valid responses to an increasingly pressing and dangerous problem, but the answer is most likely a combination of all three: regulation, education, and innovation.

Each of these options comes with its own complexities, and we’re a long way from having a clear view of the best permutation to answer this unprecedented challenge. But as the debate begins, let's be sure that we have the broadest possible mix of voices at the table, not just large companies, governments, and international organizations. Social activists, for example, must be a part of any discussion about the future of digital identities, lest we undermine their ability to challenge authoritarians in a rush to reduce fake identities with less anonymity. As the old saying goes, if you are not at the table, you're on the menu. Let's be vigilant.

Commentary by Sheldon Himelfarb | President & CEO | PeaceTech Lab

In the News

Many women said that WhatsApp has allowed them to communicate better with local politicians. They feel empowered to talk about their concerns openly in WhatsApp discussion groups and said they have more access to information.
With just under 70% of Americans using some form of social media, industry giants, from Facebook and Snapchat to Bumble, are making a big push to disseminate information on the upcoming elections and register voters.
Seeking to become contributing members in a new land, Syrian refugees are retrofitting green technology in Jordanian homes, cutting emissions and building community cohesion in the process.
The Promise of AI In The Developing World
When it comes to technology, there is a common misconception that only the rich benefit. But the innovations behind gadgets like iPhones and drones have the potential to boost development and prosperity throughout the Global South.


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