Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention Seeks Innovative, Tech-Based Solutions to Stop Human Rights Atrocities

Report
from US Agency for International Development
Published on 06 Mar 2013

Tricia Whittemore
Porter Novelli for Humanity United
619-528-2360/603-219-6088
tricia.whittemore@porternovelli.com

USAID and Humanity United Partner to Uncover Technology-Based Ideas with the Potential to Scale and Save Lives Around the Globe

WASHINGTON, D.C. – March 6, 2013 – Despite a global effort to prevent atrocities including genocide, ethnic cleansing and mass rape, millions remain at risk. In an effort to combat future atrocities, today the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and Humanity United launched the second round of the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention, an innovative approach to developing new ways to combat and prevent the worst human rights violations.

The Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention encourages individuals, groups and organizations to apply technology-based solutions to the most significant challenges surrounding atrocity prevention. Submitted in the form of prototypes or concept papers, proposals are reviewed by a prestigious panel of judges comprised of human rights and technology experts and U.S. government leaders. Winners receive cash prizes. Humanity United and USAID will also explore the possibility of piloting and scaling the most promising innovations.

Prizes include $10,000 for first place winners, $7,000 for second place and $3,000 for third place. As part of round two, three new challenges have been unveiled – “Model,” “Communicate” and “Alert”:

Model

How can we better understand – and predict – which communities are most at risk for mass atrocities? The challenge: create a predictive algorithmic model to help identify community-level risk factors that make communities more or less likely to experience acts of violence. This challenge will be launched on the TopCoder platform, a community of almost 465,000 software developers, algorithmists and digital designers from around the globe.

Communicate

During conflicts and crises, vulnerable populations are often left completely isolated, unable to communicate with neighboring communities, much less the outside world. The challenge: create technological innovations to enable better communication with and among conflict-affected communities during a conflict. This challenge will be launched on the InnoCentive platform, a global leader in crowd-sourcing innovative solutions to important business, social, policy, scientific and technical problems. InnoCentive has over 285,000 registered solvers worldwide.

Alert

The worst atrocities often happen in remote areas, making it incredibly difficult for human rights organizations to gather and verify critical information about what has occurred. The challenge: develop simple, affordable, trainable and scalable technologies to allow human rights organizations and others to gather more information and/or verify existing information from hard-to-access areas, including areas where government perpetrators intentionally try to prohibit outside access. This challenge will be hosted on OpenIDEO, an open innovation platform for social good. OpenIDEO uses a unique, collaborative approach where a broad mix of people create new solutions together – all concepts are openly available, shareable and reusable by anyone.

More detail on each of the new challenges is available at http://thetechchallenge.org/.

The first round of the Tech Challenge launched in late October 2012 and sought new and innovative approaches to two key challenges: how to better document evidence of atrocities, and how to better identify “third-party enablers” – be they states, corporations, individuals or others – who support those who commit such crimes. Applicants from 22 countries submitted 88 innovative technological solutions. The winners were announced on February 13.

“In response to President Obama's call to seek new technologies to prevent mass atrocities, we're reaching out to problem-solvers everywhere to address one of humanity's greatest challenges,” said USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah. “The first round surfaced a number of exciting ideas, and we look forward to sparking even more creative thinking in round two.”

“The Tech Challenge brings together two industries that might otherwise never come into contact – technology and human rights,” said Randy Newcomb, president and CEO of Humanity United. “We’re excited to see how technology can change the game in the fight against atrocities, and we challenge the technologists, thinkers, developers and innovators out there to apply their skills in support of this important cause.”

Learn more about the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention at http://thetechchallenge.org/ or join a Google+ Hangout (http://bit.ly/VOSPJR) with round one winners and Tech Challenge judges on March 8 at 2 p.m. EST. Watch a short video about the challenge at http://youtu.be/6tGo867Qs2g and follow the challenge on Twitter using hashtag #genprevtech.