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  • 6 years ago
RB209: Crisis Spotting (Drone Humanitarianism II)

RB209: Crisis Spotting (Drone Humanitarianism II)

What if you could witness a crime taking place from space, and even step in to prevent it?
A group of researchers at Harvard’s Humanitarian Initiative are trying to do exactly that.
As the nation of Sudan faced a complex crisis — a secession of the southern region that threatened to boil over into a civil war in 2011 — Nathaniel Raymond and his team at The Signal Program were carefully monitoring the conflict.
Their methods were uncommon. Using donated satellite imagery — the kind normally used to observe environmental conditions or create maps — the team tracked the movements of troops, military vehicles, and resources in near real-time, and used that information to alert humanitarian groups on the ground.
But it’s a process fraught with challenges, from imperfect imagery (imagine a cloud passing by just as you’re trying to spot tank movements), to the ethical questions that come with intervening in a conflict remotely.
So how does a group of civilians at Harvard go about monitoring a