Crisis Mapping Needs an Ethical Compass

Nathaniel Raymond, Caitlin Howarth & Jonathan Hutson, GlobalBrief, Feburary 6, 2012

The recent global heroics of digital dissidents and witnesses betray a larger kink in their armour – a desperate need for standards and professionalism. In 2011, civilians using communication technologies to obtain information and to coordinate political action defined the year more than any other development in foreign affairs. Time magazine chose “The Protester” as its 2011 Person of the Year, noting how last year’s protest movements made use of Twitter hashtags and digital platforms in order to share imagery and map locations, and to spread their messages around the world.

Individuals using smartphones and social networks sparked and sustained the Arab Spring, the Occupy movement in North America, as well as the Russian Winter that gripped Moscow. Maps displaying near real-time data collected from the ‘crowd’ aided the response to a devastating earthquake in Japan. And DigitalGlobe’s commercial satellites monitored violence along the border between Sudan and South Sudan, allowing Harvard analysts as part of the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) – funded by actor and activist George Clooney and the charity Not On Our Watch – to capture evidence of war crimes hours after alleged mass atrocities occurred. …

For full text of the article, visit Crisis Mapping Needs an Ethical Compass : Global Brief.

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