Big data for peace:How big data can serve humanity

Global challenges Innovating justice Open data Peace

“Big data is often described as fueling both innovation and the economy,” says co-founder of The Hague-based Peace Informatics Lab Ulrich Mans. “It is being applied in many areas, such as financial markets, health, and fast-moving consumer goods. We want to explore the promise it holds for fostering peace, security and prosperity around the world.”

Can the growing amount of digital data contribute to improving the conditions of the global poor? Can big data inform how we respond to humanitarian crises and violent conflicts? Could it help to advance peace, development and stability around the globe? These are the questions that the Peace Informatics Lab wants to tackle. By building data-driven methodologies to support peace processes all over the world.

A complex journey
This calls for a complex journey, involving a diverse community of professionals that are working in the fields of peace, justice and development – and also requires technological expertise and lots of creativity. “Linking the peace and justice sector to information technology offers opportunities to build partnerships that are truly out-of-the-box. For example, it’s much easier for corporates and the creative industry to get involved in international peace based on their expertise in big data,” Ulrich explains. 

“Luckily, we’re in exactly the right place,” Ulrich says. “The Hague represents an enormous diversity of expertise.” At the same time, this means that the city has an important responsibility to take into account: “As the world is becoming ever more digitalized, new rules are needed. Rules that should be agreed upon internationally. The Hague has an important role to play here,” Ulrich argues.

Enthusiasm around the world
“It’s really exciting to notice the worldwide enthusiasm about our concept of peace informatics. And, increasingly, people around the world are starting to look at The Hague as a central hub for innovation in this field,” Ulrich says. “I feel privileged to get to work with people that have great ideas, and are incredibly motivated to make them come to life, on a daily basis.”

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