Using Data Sharing to Improve Coordination in Peacebuilding

December 01, 2012 by Andrew Robertson, Steve Olson

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Effective data sharing between peacebuilders can improve coordination of peacebuilding interventions in conflict zones. To support such coordination, however, data sharing must occur between organizations with widely differing goals and methods. Despite this, all participants in an intervention must have positive incentives to adopt such technologies. To engage government and non-government actors in data sharing, such systems must recognize the social dimensions of the data sharing problem, provide tools to build and maintain trust between actors, support on-going interaction to sustain that trust as in recent civilian-military policy discussions, and be strongly aligned with user needs. Elmer Roman, Oversight Executive in the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and Melanie Greenberg, the President and CEO of Alliance for Peacebuilding, convened a group of experts in information and communications technology (ICT) and in peacebuilding. Experts in peacebuilding, information technology, and interagency coordination met to discuss the principal technological, ethical and organizational challenges faced by peacebuilders in working cooperatively to build peace. Participants also provided feedback on UNITY, a software platform developed by the Department of Defense (DOD) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to share project data related to humanitarian and peacebuilding activities. Co-published by the U.S. Institute of Peace and the National Academy of Engineering, this summary provides a synopsis of the workshop’s discussion. It is intended to help policy makers understand the issues associated with using data sharing for more effective coordination among actors in conflict zones.