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π - People's Intelligence: Networked reporting and verification

People's Intelligence automates the collection of relevant human rights and humanitarian information from hard to access areas and verifies it using crowdsourcing and “dumb” mobile phones.

Photo of Christophe Billen
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People's Intelligence addresses many of the shortcomings of current documentation initiatives using crowdsourcing: lack of relevant and quality information, no or limited assessment of the reliability of the sources and the credibility of the collected information, reliance on the Internet, lack of feedback loops and limited empowerment of those reporting information.

To solve these problems, People's Intelligence makes use of low cost GSM (USSD, SMS and voice) technology to establish a conversation with victims and witnesses of an incident to collect and guarantee relevant and quality information. The reporting and collection process is automated providing for a more efficient use of resources. Typically, victims and witnesses will dial a short code to establish a synchronous USSD session during which she or he will be invited to answer a series of basic questions: where and when did the incident happen, who did what, how did it happen and how do you know? An information workflow provides for accurate answers. Say for example that a person spells the name of a city incorrectly, the system proposes spelling options. Semantic and syntactic analysis automatically assess the relevance of a report and upon reception of quality information the system provides the source with actionable information and send early warning signals to partner organizations. Say for example a victim reports a rape on a specific date and in a certain location, the system can automatically send to the victim the contacts of organizations providing retro-viral drugs and put them directly in contact if the victim consents.

Another problem that People’s Intelligence tackles is the automatic attribution of reliability scores to a source as well as credibility scores to a piece of information. Say a report is submitted by an unknown source and the information cannot be triangulated with other reports sharing similar characteristics, such as date and place. Both the reliability of the source and the credibility of the information will be unknown. In such instances or when the reliability of a source or the credibility of the information is low, the system automatically sends documentation requests depending on the permissiveness of a particular situation to a trusted network in the vicinity of the reported incident, and/or using geo-fencing technologies, to mobile users entering a specific cell-tower perimeter near the reported incident. Upon reception of new reports a similar process resumes and reliability and credibility scores are automatically updated.

The main beneficiaries will be the victims and witnesses who will have their voices heard and receive actionable information in return for quality information as well as partnering organizations who will become better informed and equipped to decide where to allocate resources and coordinate their efforts. Humanitarian protection standards and principles will be at the core of our work to guide our answers to security and safety challenges.

People’s Intelligence is an “Alert” winner of Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention sponsored by Humanity United and USAID.

Stichting People’s Intelligence abides by the Sphere Humanitarian Charter, the Protection Principles and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response and works in line with the Millennium Development Goals, in particular target 8.F. which is to make available benefits of new technologies, especially information and communications.

Stichting People’s Intelligence is a non-profit foundation registered with the Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands, number 58728929, which goals it is to develop and implement People’s Intelligence.

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

Please have a look at the PDF document in attachment which answers this question in both a graphical and simple manner.

With regard to people safety, it depends very much in which circumstances such idea is being implemented. This is an issue that needs careful discussion and that goes beyond the mere technological aspects of safety and security, but touches upon ethical matters as well.

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

The idea has been designed with low technological requirements in mind. People with a inexpensive mobile using "dumb" mobile phones (USSD, SMS or voice) should be able to use it.

It could be built on top of existing crowd-sourcing platforms.

I am a social scientist by education and know a thing or two about computers and technology, but engineers would be in a better position to answer this one. Anybody?

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

As for areas where such methods have been tested, I can think of both investigative journalists or intelligence operatives who converse with their sources and asses the reliability and the credibility of the information they provide before using it.

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?

We are partnering with Delft University of Technology and an technological investment group in the Netherlands to bring this idea to fruition.

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 now, it requires the use of mobile networks. But this idea being more a method than a tool, I suppose that with some ingenuity one could think of less technological demanding ways to implement it.

Evaluation results

12 evaluations so far

1. How scalable would this idea be across regions and cultures?

Looks like it’d be easy to spread across multiple regions and cultures - 25%

This idea could scale but it might need further iteration to make it widely relevant - 58.3%

Seems that this idea would best be suited for a single region/population - 16.7%

2. Would a lot of resources be required to create a pilot for this idea? (think time, capacity, money, etc)

This idea looks easy to pilot with minimal resources being invested - 16.7%

Feels like this idea could take a moderate amount of resources to pilot - 75%

Seems like piloting this idea would take a lot of resources - 8.3%

3. How suitable is this idea for various challenges on the ground such as lack of internet or mobile access?

Yep, it feels like it could work easily beyond internet or mobile access - 16.7%

Not so sure – it looks like it would require online or mobile connectivity - 50%

This idea definitely seems to rely on internet or mobile access - 33.3%

4. Could this idea put users or others at risk?

Nope, it looks like everyone would be safe - 25%

There are some potential concerns, but these could be addressed with further iteration - 66.7%

I can imagine some people being put at risk with this idea - 8.3%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

This idea rocked my world - 16.7%

I liked it but preferred others - 50%

It didn't get me overly excited - 33.3%

Attachments (1)

People's Intelligence - 150114.pdf

People's Intelligence - Concept Note and Presentation

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Photo of Karoline
Team

Hi Christoph. You probably know this - but just wanted to pass on some information about the opportunity to apply for small grants through humanity united. They've got 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). More info about the fund and application process here http://bit.ly/17T9Nzf It's looks like a great opportunity to bring some of the ideas in here to life. Unfortunately, I'm still in school, and unable to take my idea 'People's Radio' further or apply for grants, but anyone from the community who might want to are super welcome to do so. I think I saw somewhere that People's Intelligence was in a competition to get funded, am I right? How did it go?
Cheers, Karoline

Photo of Christophe
Team

Hi Karoline. Thanks for your message. I am aware of the funding opportunity and will surely apply. I found People's Radio a great idea and hope somebody will pick it up. Thanks for sharing and all the best with school. Christophe

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