This past week was an exciting one for PeaceTech Lab Netherlands: We went to the other side of the ocean for the PeaceTech Summit at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP). Held on May 8th and 9th, the Summit was hosted by the American PeaceTech Lab and explored the way technology can be used for peacebuilding and peace consolidation. The two days were jam-packed with interesting speakers, from NGOs working with exploited children to a senior corporate member from Facebook. Below, you can read in a more detail about what we got up to while in DC.
The first day began with an exciting demonstration of a electron-measuring device. The small device was tested on an opera singer. The audience watched as the opera singer’s brain waves were tracked. For example, her ‘sleep electron’ was high (meaning she was not close to falling asleep). These measurements can be an important measure of feelings of depression, trauma and guilt, which need to be overcome should peacebuilding be successful. There were many more interesting panels from interesting speakers, but in the interest of brevity I will focus on a few key speakers here. Joel Kaplan, VP for US Global Policy at Facebook, spoke on the misuse of their service and how to go forwards after the “turmoil.” Former National Security Advisor for George W. Bush Stephen J. Hadley and USIP President Nancy Lindborg offered their thoughts about the changing nature of the “multiplicity of actors” in the security space. One particular highlight of the Summit was the discussion with ‘godfather’ of the internet, Vint Cerf, who was responsible for the invention of TCP/IP. He described how he believes the internet can be crucial in facilitating stability globally.
Just before the day’s conclusion, our Director Robert Zaal spoke to the room about the European peacetech industry. His conclusion was that while technology is being used for peacebuilding, peacemaking and peace consolidation, there is no broader ‘peacetech’ industry to speak of in Europe. However, that means there are big opportunities for PeaceTech Lab Netherlands to fill this gap! One example is through our Digital 100, our ambitious goal to build a digital network of 100 young experts with data related skills who want to use their knowledge for good. These young people volunteer some of their time to help us look for technology, data computer science solutions, whether that is an hour once every two weeks or a month in the summer. Their skills can bridge the world of data with the world of people at thinktanks, NGO and government. Have data skills and want to be part of this experience? Click here to fill in the form and we’ll be in touch with you as soon as possible. If you’re a business or an NGO and could use our data experts for your project, get in contact with us through email!
The second day was filled with interesting workshops. I personally attended two: the first one concerned media in Northern Nigeria. In this area there is no independent indigenous media, focusing on young people. The workshop asked participants how we could better reach young people and teach them about peace and prosperity. The second workshop was a demo of the exciting groundTruth platform. This is an early warning system for business and social disruption which provides real-time insights into local ground conditions. I had a chance to explore the tool, and was greatly impressed by how easy it was to use and how much data was feeding into it. Want to know more about groundTruth? Get in contact with us here.
All in all, a great Summit! And don’t worry, we also had a chance to talk to different people and see the White House too!
Junior Research and Communications Officer, PeaceTech Lab NL