The effects of continual disruption: technological resources supporting
resilience in regions of conflict
Technologies to aid resilience behavior:
1. Even if you crowd source your hammer, not every problem is a nail: New
technologies have the potential to make huge contributions to violence- and
conflict prevention efforts, but they are not a panacea for holistic solutions.
International organizations and governments should examine all the tools at their
disposal for preventing conflict, and civil society organizations should not be
blinkered by their particular thematic focus.
2. Consider the context: The cases show that socioeconomic, cultural, and
demographic factors will all influence whether technology can have a positive
impact, which technology would be appropriate, and how technologies could or
should be combined. International organizations and governments should make
needs assessments and feasibility studies that address these factors standard
practice. Civil society organizations should also include such needs assessments
or conflict and peace assessments in their proposals when seeking funding from
3. Do no harm: Failure to consider the possible knock-on effects of applying a
specific technology can lead to fatal outcomes in violent settings. Spoilers also
leverage new technologies to incite violence, promote conflict, and perpetrate
crimes. As such, a conflict-sensitive approach remains vital from conception to
completion of any initiative involving new technologies. As part of project design
and implementation, every actor should identify possible spoilers, conduct a costbenefit,
analysis that incorporates levels of risk, develop mechanisms to mitigate
risks, and create contingency plans.
4. Integrate local input throughout, and don’t reinvent the wheel: Examples
abound where an absence of local input meant there was a lack of buy-in from
the affected communities, project financing was unsustainable, the credibility of
the information collected was questionable, or there was duplication of work.
Once a project is underway, continual consultation with and involvement of the
affected community is vital. In general, the application of new technological tools
to prevention efforts at the local level works best when integrated into existing
civil society initiatives.
5. Use technology to help information flow horizontally more than vertically:
Horizontal citizen-to-citizen ICT initiatives can help to connect more “warners”
and “responders” more quickly and closer to the crisis. They can also contribute
to communities’ resilience in the long term. International organizations should
consider supporting spontaneous micro initiatives in this area, provide funding to
develop local capacity, improve connectivity between different initiatives, and
help the sharing of best practices. Civil society organizations should identify and
reward skilled individuals and groups in local communities who can adopt new
technologies for preventing violence and conflict.
6. Establish consensus regarding ownership, use, and sharing of
information: New technologies make it possible for international organizations
and government agencies to acquire more information and more granular
information to inform prevention efforts. International organizations,
governments, and civil society actors should establish consensus around
questions of privacy, access, and use of digital data in any given initiative. This
will make prevention efforts more legitimate in the eyes of the affected
communities, and ultimately more effective.
7. Foster partnerships for better results: There are indications that prevention
initiatives that drew on the complementary strengths of international donors,
governments, the private sector, and civil society proved more effective.
International organizations and governments are well placed to foster such
partnerships and should invest in doing so for more promising results. Given the
frequent paralysis at national and international levels when it comes to preventing
conflict, the empowerment of individuals to participate in conflict-prevention
initiatives in their own communities and societies may be one of the most
significant innovations created by advances in technology. This is particularly
true when it comes to bridging the persistent gulf between warning and response.
Much more research is needed to assess how ICT can be used to generate action
at the local level, as well as to inform or warn. In the long run, however, the most
effective approach to using new technologies for conflict prevention may well be
the one needed in prevention more broadly: one that successfully balances both
grassroots, decentralized efforts and the more rationalized and coordinated
activities of governments and international organizations.