In a digital world, a growing number of data streams will inform policy-making and governance. One of the biggest challenges for those working in the sector (academics and practitioners) is to collect, analyse and dispatch data in a time-efficient and meaningful way. For example, it remains difficult to analyse GIS tagged twitter feeds with demographic and consumption pattern data. Different formats, time intervals and different levels of veracity means that quantitative analysis often remains prohibitively complex. If we could offer an integrated platform which allows for easy access to new types of data, we can leverage real-time knowledge on peace and justice in a given setting.
The Peace Informatics Lab has started to build a data pool that brings together a diverse set of data sources on issues related to peace, security and societal change. This is an investment in the future. In 2015 such datasets are largely unavailable in conflict, post-conflict and developing countries. However, with the current pace of digitalisation this will change significantly in the next 5-10 years as authorities (1) are expected to open up official statistics and businesses (2) will find new ways of making available aggregate data streams to be used for improved decision-making. In turn, the most important source of new data we expect to come from civic sources (3).
In order to ‘test’ the possibilities of such a data pool and the opportunities to create civic data streams in areas of ‘low connectivity’, we are starting with a selected number of large metropolitan areas in the Global South. These are areas where we expect significant levels of political tensions, scarcity and potential violent conflicts.