People Protection Standards 1.0: Response by the Satellite Sentinel Project Team at Harvard Humanitarian Initiative to Recent Comments Concerning the Global Brief Article Entitled: Crisis Mapping Needs an Ethical Compass
by Satellite Sentinel Project Team, February 2012
When Raymond, Howarth, and Hutson wrote our argument for the development of comprehensive ethical and technical standards for the crisis mapping community, we were aware of last year’s meeting hosted by World Vision in Geneva and the 2010 meeting in Phnom Penh hosted by Oxfam Australia on Early Warning for Protection. … These efforts are laudable, much needed, and constructive. They are also by themselves insufficient to address the challenges that our field and those we seek to assist face as a result of the work we all do. While important initial steps, the meetings, protocols, and blog posts regarding these issues do not create a comprehensive code of ethics and technical standards by themselves. The issue is not whether there have been meetings or working groups. The issue is whether the crisis mapping community will decide to self-regulate in a proactive way before serious lapses by any of us put civilians in jeopardy. …
For full text of the article on this important topic, visit Satellite Sentinel Project.
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.
Jonathan Houston, On the Media, NPR, September 30, 2011
There are parts of Sudan too dangerous and too remote for journalists to get to—meaning they can’t cover some of the human rights abuses that have plagued the country. The Satellite Sentinel Project uses, you guessed it, satellites to shed light on what’s happening on the ground in Sudan.
To listen to the NPR interview click here.
South Sudan satellite monitoring in near real-time:
About the Satellite Sentinel Project — initiated by George Clooney — combines satellite imagery analysis and field reports with Google’s Map Maker technology to deter the resumption of war between North and South Sudan. The project provides an early warning system to deter mass atrocities by focusing world attention and generating rapid responses on human rights and human security concerns.
This project is the result of an unprecedented collaboration between Not On Our Watch, Google, the Enough Project, the United Nations UNITAR Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT), the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and Trellon, LLC.
The project works like this: Commercial satellites passing over the border of northern and southern Sudan are able to capture possible threats to civilians, observe the movement of displaced people, detect bombed and razed villages, or note other evidence of pending mass violence.
UNOSAT leads the collection and analysis of the images and collaborates with Google and Trellon to design the web platform for the public to easily access the images and reports. Harvard Humanitarian Initiative provides system-wide research and leads the collection, human rights analysis, and corroboration of on-the-ground reports that contextualizes the satellite imagery. The Enough Project contributes field reports, provides policy analysis, and, together with Not On Our Watch, puts pressure on policymakers by urging the public to act.
The Satellite Sentinel Project marks the first sustained, public effort to systematically monitor and report on potential hotspots and threats to security along a border, in near real-time (within 24-36 hours), with the aim of heading off humanitarian disaster and human rights crimes before they occur.
The Satellite Sentinel Project Website: http://www.satsentinel.org/
Some things to consider:
- Will Using ‘Live’ Satellite Imagery to Prevent War in the Sudan Actually Work? by Patrick Meier (2010) (irevolution.wordpress.com)
- Protecting Indigenous People’s Privacy from Eyes in the Sky by Wayne Madsen (1994) “… The United States, as one of the two most advanced remote sensing nations in the world, bears a special responsibility to prevent remote sensing data from being used for purposes of exploitation and violations of human rights. The other major remote sensing nation is France. It, too, has demonstrated a willingness to permit the abuse of remote sensing data as it affects indigenous peoples. In 1994, France announced that it had captured the international terrorist “Carlos the Jackal” in Khartoum, Sudan. This feat ironically involved the trading of French imagery intelligence to the Sudanese, a trade which ultimately resulted in more Sudanese “state terrorism” against the black African minority in the south of the country. The southern Sudanese believed that the north wanted to drain their swamps by building the Jonglei Canal which would increase the flow of water through the White Nile. One southern Sudanese, Dr. John Garang, wrote his doctoral thesis on the negative environmental impact of the Jonglei Canal. In 1985 the southern Sudanese revolted against the north and demanded independence (Moszynski, July 1, 1994, 25). The Sudanese wanted an end to the revolt. They agreed to hand over Carlos to the French in return for high-grade French SPOT imagery photographs of the positions of southern Sudan guerilla forces. Using the satellite imagery provided by the French and analyzed by Iraqi imagery analysts, the Sudanese launched a massive ground and air offensive against the southerners including a faction led by Dr. John Garang, native environmentalist turned leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). British MP Tony Worthington was one of a few Western politicians who expressed his outrage, saying “Obviously we can understand that the French were keen to capture Carlos, but does it have to be at the expense of the Sudanese people who have been brutally murdered by the appalling regime in Khartoum whom the French have assisted by providing military intelligence to help the slaughter?” (Moszynski, Oct. 1994, 32). …”
- Amnesty International’s Eyes on Darfur
- AAAS Humann Rights and Geospatial Technologies
- Harvard Humanitarian Initiative Crisis Mapping and Early Warning
- Clooney’s Anti-Genocide Paparrazi: Watching Sudan (TIME)
- Google and George Clooney Aim Satellites at Sudan, Become “Anti-Genocide Paparazzi” [Satellites] (gizmodo.com)
- Sudan under anti-war satellite surveillance (news.cnet.com)
- George Clooney + Google launch satellite project to monitor Sudan (globalpost.com)
- Google and George Clooney Aim Satellites At Sudan, Become “Anti-Genocide Paparazzi” (fastcompany.com)
- Google & George Clooney Aim Satellite Surveillance at Sudan, Hoping to Prevent Genocide (readwriteweb.com)
- Will Using ‘Live’ Satellite Imagery to Prevent War in the Sudan Actually Work? (irevolution.wordpress.com)
- Accurate Crowdsourcing for Human rights (irevolution.wordpress.com)