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Worldwide Information Network System

A web-based, open platform for actors in all sectors to share, visualize, and analyze data related to the underlying conditions of conflict that exist in areas prone to violence and mass atrocities globally to inform policy and enable action.

Photo of DeletedUser

Written by DeletedUser

Atrocity prevention is about more than collecting and presenting data about conflict risk and opportunities for peacebuilding in an eye-catching and clever way. We also need to present data in a way that simultaneously entices and helps facilitate exchanges among networks of actors who don't usually talk to one another. All sectors must be creatively engaged and working together to effectively confront the challenges that make up the underlying conditions of conflict. These social, economic, political, and security issues are all interrelated. Absent the big picture, solving one problem in isolation may just exacerbate another.

Everybody wants data. If you can get government agencies, NGOs, companies, and communities to share and use data on a web-based platform, you can get them to talk to one another. If you can get them to share data and talk to one another, you can get them to pay attention to the findings. An added benefit of being able to aggregate and disaggregate the data from different sources is the value of cross validation, filling gaps, and running correlations. This has been accomplished on a national level in Liberia and Nigeria. Based on the success of this model, we now want to make it global by expanding an existing platform to be the Worldwide Information Network System (W.I.N.S.). By encouraging contributions and use by all sectors of society, we believe everybody W.I.N.S.

We have an existing platform that brings together data and actors from various sectors in Liberia and Nigeria. We would like to expand this initial application to include other countries and invite actors from all sectors to input data. Anyone could then have access to the data and generate reports from it. They could query the data by source, indicator, sub-indicator, country, province, community, time range, etc. The tool would generate maps (toggling between cluster view, heat map, and markers), as well as charts comparing area to area, time period to time period, and indicator to indicator. Additionally, the user would have access to a drawing tool bar to mark up the maps and the ability to add their own KML layers. Spreadsheets could be downloaded and users could issues their own reports, post them on the platform, encourage comments and call for actions to be undertaken in the form of alerts. They could hold meetings with interested actors in other sectors as well as detail their responses or abilities to respond on the map, letting users know who they can reach out to for assistance in the event of a crisis. Such a capability would lead to greater collaboration among the sectors and build greater trust and respect among the sectors while reducing the duplication of efforts.

For hard-to-access areas, this concept engages those with pre-existing datasets. We are open to all actors with a variety of data sources to ensure as much coverage as possible. We also actively create networks of NGOs who work in hard-to-access areas and conduct participatory workshops with local civil society to build lines of communication down to the community level. Based on our experience, we have found that different methods (SMS, workshops, email, radio etc.) are optimal to link them into the web-based platform.

We believe the users are motivated – by either a desire or need for data or a desire or need to report – and so this just supplies a place for it to be aggregated and for the whole network of users to look at the data in different ways to identify issues that need to be addressed to prevent atrocities, which often occur in places where the underlying conditions of conflict have not been adequately addressed. By taking a global approach, we would also be able to identify those areas in which access to information and their ability to communicate with others needs to be addressed through efforts of others participating in the system.

How does your idea gather AND verify information? How does your idea keep those who use it safe?

Data would be collected from the whole community of users. Data that has been entered identifying its source would be more verifiable. Because of the amount of data, misinformation or inaccurate information should be easy to identify. There are groups with whom we work that can identify anomalies in data, which can then flag the data that it needs to be verified and possibly marked as questionable or removed. This is something we want to flush out with partners during the prototyping phase. There is a section of the database where data can be entered anonymously or they can create a section within the larger databank where the information is recognized as their unique inputs.

How might your idea be designed to scale and spread to help as many people as possible?

Using the existing platform created for Nigeria, our intent is to expand it globally and add pre-existing data. We would also encourage those already using the platform to add data from other countries while utilizing our existing local networks in other countries to expand the application rapidly across the globe.

How might your idea make use of exisiting technology? Has your idea been tried in a different or related context?

As mentioned, this is a web-based platform that would accept data using a wide-range of pre-existing technologies, like SMS, e-mail, and uploading directly via the Internet. Also, we have been using this method of data collection nationally in both Liberia and Nigeria.

How could you begin prototyping this idea in a simple way to begin testing and refining it? Who would use your idea and/or who is using it now? Is your idea technically easy medium or hard to implement?

Given the fact that this has successfully been done before, we believe that scaling up, adding functionality, and making it user-friendly across a broader user base would not be technically prohibitive. We have an existing network of technical experts who would enthusiastically embrace the challenge to contribute to such an important issue. Users on the current platform in Nigeria include large NGOs who have employed it to inform baseline assessments, site selection, project planning and design, and M&E. In addition, a government agency has used the map in presentations to high-level staff on conflict trends while local civil society organizations have uploaded their coordinates to the map, demonstrating its application at both the national and sub-national levels. Multisectoral roundtable discussions have also been held in the US and Nigeria to discuss findings and trends with high-level diplomats, practitioners, and donor groups.

How is your idea adapted for conditions in hard-to-access areas, such as lack of internet and mobile access? Can users adopt it without much behavior change?

For hard-to-access areas, this concept relies on the fact that the platform is open to all actors with a variety of data sources to get as much coverage as possible. We also create networks of NGOs who work in these areas and gather data from communities, enabling the collection of information that otherwise might not be accessible. One method that could be employed in specific areas of interest would be to ensure local actors did have access to mobile phones or radios so they could report back to a central hub that would be able to collect the data and, ideally, access the internet to upload the information to the wider community. Flexibility is necessary to limit the need for behavior change as a barrier to entry. Based on our work in hard-to-reach places, we believe that users are already motivated – by either a desire or need for the data or a desire or need to report information – and so this platform supplies a place for it to be aggregated. In addition, it allows the whole network of users to look at the data in different ways to identify the underlying conditions of conflict which have not been adequately addressed to prevent violence and mass atrocities. By taking a global approach, we would also be able to pinpoint and access hard-to-reach areas and key communities with vital information. This would provide a link for actors in remote areas to communicate data to others participating in the system who are in a better position to respond.

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Photo of Arjan Tupan
Team

This looks very promising. Especially because it's already in place in Liberia and Nigeria. Does the system also use datasets from other NGOs or companies? I'm thinking about things like:
- connectivity data from mobile/internet providers to look for either migration patterns (point of connection) or shut-downs of the system; which both can be indicators of violence going on;
- satellite photos to compare the status of villages or hard-to-access areas and look for signs of violence going on (burnt down homes)

I believe that when you cannot get data directly from a certain area, there is data around it that can be full of valuable indicators.

Also, I was wondering how easy it would be to plug in information from Ideas like
- the NFC tags from David: http://www.openideo.com/open/usaid-humanity-united/ideas/nfc-tags-create-user-verified-post-it-notes-system/
- the Courier/Trader network from Dan: http://www.openideo.com/open/usaid-humanity-united/ideas/courier-trader-network/
- the social network app for APRS from Allsion: http://www.openideo.com/open/usaid-humanity-united/ideas/courier-trader-network/

to name a few.

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Dear Arjan,

Thanks for the comment and valuable feedback!

Currently the system in Nigeria uses civil-society generated data (UNLocK project of FFP), data from Council on Foreign Relations (Nigeria Security Tracker), Institut de recherche pour le devoloppement (Nigeria Watch), ETH Center for Security Studies Zurich (Energy Infrastructure Attack Database), and the Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (P4P Information Hub). We’ve also had conversations with companies about potentially integrating data on security incidents into the platform. In Liberia, we didn’t manage the development of the platform ourselves, but our UNLocK data is being integrated with data from Liberia Armed Violence Observatory, The Liberia Peacebuilding Office, WANEP, and CBDAP. Data mainly comprises incidents reported by the various groups as relate to ethnic and religious violence/tension, hate speech, insurgency/counter-insurgency, land disputes, gang violence, natural disasters, disease outbreaks, food crisis, refugees/IDPs, etc.

As to satellite imagery, we couldn't agree more. We've been working with several groups from different sectors about how to use satellite imagery in new ways to enhance data. Going from space to air to land for the collection of data is the only way we are going to get a really clear picture for exactly the reasons you said. We're hoping some of our partners will be able to contribute satellite imagery and analysis into WINS.

The UN (Global Pulse) is doing come interesting data collection on connectivity patterns and hopefully they could get involved as well.

We've entered a new phase where we all talk about sharing data and it even happens in different pots. We hope we're finally at the point where we can make it happen as a community.

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Krysta,
It's always fascinating to find out about existing networks and current efforts to link groups and reporting systems already in place. As I read about this and the methodologies of the lra crisis tracker, I wonder what best practices can be drawn from those many methodologies as I'm sure they must have similarities. Considering the volume of data/incident reports that have to be processed, using different formats from groups, and the sharing that would take place, is there a universal methodology that can be worked towards? Maybe you've made some of those discoveries already in sharing information between NGOs..


Photo of Arjan Tupan
Team

Krysta,
So, if I understand correctly, you are looking to build on the existing platforms? Awesome, and I think this is a great place to gather ideas for that.
With regards to satellite images, this inspiration might be interesting, because it's about an organisation that will have access to high quality imagery:
http://www.openideo.com/open/usaid-humanity-united/inspiration/the-first-high-definition-streaming-video-platform-of-earth/
Also worth noticing: USAID, one of the sponsors of this challenge, has already worked with satellite images in Darfur, so they know how to obtain it. I believe the images were purchased, but maybe organisations like Google can also chime in.

Photo of Nathan Maton
Team

Hi Krista,

Great Idea! Is there a place where we can check out the visualizations and ways you're already using this in Liberia and Nigeria? To help people better grasp your idea you may want to paint a bit of an example scenario which explains someone's journey through the concept you've outlined, and who that person is and why it is useful. Check this post: http://www.openideo.com/open/amnesty/winners-announced/amnesty-observer-app/ where a scenario is given to get people digging the goodness on a concept. You can update your post at any time by hitting the Update Entry button up there on the right.

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Hi Guys,
First, to see an example of the existing platform in Nigeria, you can visit http://www.p4p-nigerdelta.org/peace-building-map
We are planning on adding a tutorial on how to create graphs, but click around and you can change the visualization of the map, the date, and use Analysis tools to create charts and graphs.

We are talking to some of our partners and potential partners, and I am hoping one of them - who have been using the data - will be able to join our team and tell that story from their perspective. Unfortunately, they are traveling currently and in a remote location. So hopefully that will happen soon.

We've already been contacted by several think tanks and implementing NGOs interested in seeing how they can participate. I am speaking with them now and hope we can also get them on board and in the virtual team.

As to learning, we are definitely all coming from learning together and from different approaches taken in different areas of work. Many people have responded they have had the same concept - but then why haven't we gotten it to work yet? We think the issue is ownership and we have to get over that as well as us thinking that data ownership is our competitive advantage. That's why we thought this community approach might be successful, if it would ever be.

Really appreciate all the thoughts and ideas and questions we are receiving both directly and via this page. Keep 'em coming!
Krista

Photo of Ryan Johnson
Team

Hi, I am a little late to the thread but I will chime in on a few things. I am involved with the technical side of the team.

Regarding the satellite imagery; yes, satellite imagery is a valuable tool, especially when current information is needed. In the past satellite imagery was expensive and you hoped that there was no cloud cover to obscure what you wanted to see. You are kind of at the mercy of the orbit and when it is over your target area. You also had to either pay to have the imagery rectified or do it yourself. Our project uses a Google Maps platform. As you know, their data includes satellite imagery (and at a decent resolution). In addition, they regularly update and replace the images. So, there is little chance of a bad image. I think this is a far wiser approach and it's basically open source!

That said, there is a place for aerial or satellite imagery when you have current crisis events taking place. On-demand imagery like this would be very expensive. However, I suspect there are organizations who would donate the data for a cause like this. I would like to see stakeholders have the ability to locate their own imagery and place it on the platform for collaborative efforts. Maybe this is an upgrade that we should consider.
Ryan

Photo of Karoline K
Team

Hi all.
I've got some news from humanity united that you might be interested it. They've got a small grants opportunity from the Humanitarian Innovation Fund, a pool designed to facilitate innovation and scale in humanitarian and emergency assistance worldwide. The small grants given would range up to £20,000 (or approx. US$32,000).
Krista, you commented on my concept 'People's Radio' about potentially linking it up with WINS. I'm still in school, and unable to take the idea further or apply for grants, but anyone of you know are very welcome to! You can read more about the fund and application process here http://bit.ly/17T9Nzf
Cheers, Karoline

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