n Conflict Trends - Crowdsourcing as a tool in conflict prevention

Volume 2012, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1561-9818


Conflict prevention and peacebuilding relies on information. If accessed on time, well verified, analysed and shared with the right actors, it has the potential to stop violence before it escalates. Traditionally, the processes of information generation and flow have relied on conflict analysis experts, which is not only costly but also time-consuming when it comes to transmission and dissemination for action. Technology is therefore changing the way information is shared and processed; tools, such as mobile devices and social media, allows for information to rapidly be disseminated, analysed and made actionable. As the world continues to move forward at new speeds of information sharing with the likes of Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, such tools increasingly affect the field of peacebuilding and conflict prevention.

This article seeks to initiate policy and practice related discussions on the role that such technologies can play in complimenting traditional peacebuilding and conflict prevention efforts. More specifically, the article explores the role of crowdsourcing as a method for gathering and sharing conflict information for timely and coordinated response. Crowdsourcing uses technology to receive specific information from a crowd of people related to targeted topics or issues, and then allows for this information to be geographically mapped. Crowdsourcing has had considerable success in the field of humanitarian action and crisis management. It was used for the first time during the 2008 post-election violence in Kenya to alert authorities of outbreaks of violence, and again in the 2010 Haiti earthquake used to alert rescuers and relief workers of survivors and needs on the ground. With the success of crowdsourcing in crisis management, there is now a need to further explore the ability to add value to conflict prevention by engaging people locally in collaborative efforts for early warning and timely response using crowdsourcing to not just respond to the crises but to prevent violence.

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