26 Jun 2012
We were pleased to be invited to participate in a gathering of the UN Crisis Information Management Advisory Group (CiMAG) - convened by the ICT4Peace Foundation and Dr. Soon-hong Choi, the UN CITO (Chief Information Technology Officer). Meedan was honored to be presenting alongside Alex Barth from Development Seed, Nigel Snoad from Google, JK Kearns from Youtube, Nathanial Manning from Ushahidi, Dragana Kaurin from New America Foundation, and Ryan Lancios from ESRI.
The ICT4Peace Foundation was formally established in 2006 to "enhance the performance of the international community in crisis management through the application of information and Communications Technology (ICT) – technologies that can facilitate effective and sustained communication between peoples, communities and stakeholders involved in crisis management."
Viewed in this light - as fundamentally a communications challenge- the role of translation strategies and multi-lingual capacity across the range from initial response to assessment to decision making is obviously critical. While Meedan's experience in designing and implementing crowd-sourced and hybrid (machine plus human) approaches to translation has been applied primarily in a journalistic and educational setting, our experience translating tweets, audio messages, videos, and other social media driven content during the Arab revolutions provided important insights that do translate quite directly into crisis setting use cases.
Much of our current work on Checkdesk is grounded in those experiences, so this was a good chance to talk about Checkdesk as a verification and markup workbench for social media content. While the scope and range of the data the CiMAG is seeking to triage, assess, action, and distribute is only partly public, digital content, it is certainly the case that the percentage of this data that falls within the scope of 'social media' is trending upward. And, the interest in informal networks as conduits for communication of substantive images and videos in the context of the evolving Syrian crisis was one of the foci of discussion.
It is wonderful to see the UN taking a view out to the private sector to seek solutions to the massive challenges of designing and developing more effective solutions. Many thanks to Sanjana Hattotuwa and Amb Daniel Stauffacher from ICT4Peace Foundation for including Meedan in the conversation.