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HHI Concludes Satellite Sentinel Program Pilot, Launches Signal Program

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HHI Concludes Satellite Sentinel Program Pilot, Launches Signal Program

The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) today announced the launching of its new Signal Program on Human Security and Technology. The goal of Signal is to transform lessons learned about the use of technology in tracking human rights violations into the first-ever research and academic program for the practice, study and teaching of crisis mapping.

The launch of Signal follows today’s release of the final report documenting the pilot phase of the Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP). HHI was responsible for designing SSP's methodology and managing its day-to-day operations and report production during and eighteen-month pilot, which concluded June 1, 2012.

Signal plans to continue to conduct participatory action research about how technology can prevent and document threats to human rights and human security around the world. The faculty and students working on Signal gained expertise in this arena through their work with the Satellite Sentinel Project, which was founded in December 2010 by George Clooney and John Prendergast of the Enough Project to monitor threats to human security along the border of Sudan and South Sudan.

"The Satellite Sentinel Project represents a revolutionary advancement in the science and practice of predicting and documenting potential mass atrocities and other threats to civilian lives in conflict zones," stated Charlie Clements, MD, Executive Director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard's Kennedy School. "The team at Harvard University will always be grateful to George Clooney for the opportunity to work on this initiative over the past eighteen months.”

"The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative has been involved in crisis mapping since its earliest days," stated Vincenzo Bollettino, Executive Director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. "Signal will help those engaged in crisis mapping identify and develop urgently required professional ethics and technical standards in the months and years ahead."

Since December 2010, nearly three dozen faculty, staff, student interns and volunteers have worked on SSP at HHI analyzing satellite imagery, collecting, cataloguing and analyzing reports from Sudan, building maps and software, and producing twenty-eight SSP reports. These reports included the accurate prediction of the Sudan Armed Forces May 2011 invasion of the Abyei region several weeks before it happened, confirmation of the destruction of over half a dozen villages inside Sudan, evidence consistent with eight mass grave sites in South Kordofan, and evidence of alleged indiscriminate bombardment of civilians, which was used as part of investigations by the International Criminal Court.

Nathaniel Raymond has been named director of the new Signal Program on Human Security and Technology. Raymond was formerly director of operations for SSP during the eighteen-month pilot phase.