7.18.2011

The Satellite Sentinel Project

While reading about the new nation of Southern Sudan, I notice a citation to the Satellite Sentinel Project. I hadn't heard of this project, so I looked it up. It sounds like a great use of modern technology and I'll be interested if it's effective.  [Note to social scientists: evaluating its effectiveness seems like an excellent, albiet difficult, research topic.] From their site:

About the Satellite Sentinel Project 
George Clooney initiated the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) while on an October 2010 trip to Southern Sudan with Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast. SSP 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 full-scale civil war between Northern and Southern Sudan and to promote greater accountability for mass atrocities by focusing world attention and generating rapid responses on human rights and human security concerns. 
SSP was launched as a six-month pilot project on December 29, 2010, as the result of an unprecedented collaboration between Not On Our Watch, the Enough Project, Google, the United Nations UNITAR Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT), DigitalGlobe, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and Trellon, LLC. UNITAR/UNOSAT's role concluded when the pilot phase ended on June 30, 2011. 
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. 
Google and Trellon collaborated 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, and our Sudan Now partners, puts pressure on policymakers by urging the public to act. DigitalGlobe provides satellite imagery and additional analysis. 
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. 
Not On Our Watch -- co-founded by Don Cheadle, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, David Pressman, and Jerry Weintraub -- has provided seed money to launch the project. 

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