Many people around the world wish for peace in the world and although it still seem far-fetched, there are many who are working to achieve it, such as the PeaceTech Lab, which is using technology workshops to help community leaders in conflict zones connect with each other.
Many might think that such technology workshops are more suited for places such as Seattle or San Francisco, but the PeaceTech Lab, through its PeaceTech Exchanges is conducting workshops in Basra, a city in Iraq. The PeaceTech Lab is under the auspices of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), a government-funded institution based in Washington, D.C.
The workshops are aimed to gather community leaders who work for peace, such as government officials, civic leaders and activists in conflict zones to come together and share their tech knowledge and their peaceful visions for their communities. The aim of the PeaceTech Exchanges is to provide these leaders with an accessible technology platform so that they can receive help to make their visions into reality.
The workshops started two years ago and have been held in Uganda, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Burma and now Iraq. There are plans to have workshops in Afghanistan as well.
Aside from giving the leaders a space to make their vision a reality, the PeaceTech Exchanges offers financial support for some of their locally conceived projects.
Danger zone map
One of the projects that had been realized is called Crowdmap. It tracks incidents where journalists were threatened with violence, which helps them to identify dangerous places. After verification, additions to the platform could be done anonymously via email or a text message. Additions could also be done directly through an app or the Crowdmap website.
The map was a result of the collaboration between Jorge Luis Sierra, a Mexican reporter and Ibrahim Alsragey, the director of the Iraqi Journalists Rights Defense Association. They met in Erbil, a city in Northern Iraq and decided to jointly work on the Crowdmap based on the Ushahidi-developed platform that the Mexican reporter used previously to track violence committed against journalists in his country.
The organization had also formed a partnership with the Drexel University’s College of Engineering in coordination with USIP’s Academy for International Conflict Management & Peacebuilding. They will develop an online curriculum called Peace Tech: Conflict Management for Engineers that will provide skills for mediation, negotiation and conflict analysis. The online courses are set to begin this Fall 2015.
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