New Technology and the Prevention of Violence and Conflict

December 06, 2016 by Francesco Mancini, Marie O'Reilly

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Amid unprecedented growth in access to information communication technologies (ICTs), particularly in the developing world, how can international actors, governments, and civil society organizations leverage ICTs and the data they generate to more effectively prevent violence and conflict? New research shows that there is huge potential for innovative technologies to inform conflict prevention efforts, particularly when technology is used to help information flow horizontally between citizens and when it is integrated into existing civil society initiatives.1 However, new technologies are not a panacea for preventing and reducing violence and conflict. In fact, failure to consider the possible knock-on effects of applying a specific technology can lead to fatal outcomes in violent settings. In addition, employing new technologies for conflict prevention can produce very different results depending on the context in which they are applied and whether or not those using the technology take that context into account. This is particularly true in light of the dramatic changes underway in the landscapes of violence and conflict on a global level. As such, instead of focusing on supply-driven technical fixes, those undertaking prevention initiatives should let the context inform what kind of technology is needed and what kind of approach will work best