HADR, SSTR and New Media: Opening Minds, Reaching Out

I delivered a presentation at “Enhancing Information and Communication: Issues for Policymakers, Ambassadors, and Commanders” organised by National Defence University, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC on 17 August 2011.

I’ve not talked about SSTR and HADR issues for a while now, though the work I do with the ICT4Peace Foundation on the UN Crisis Information Management strategy and related issues keep me abreast of developments in this field. Researching for this article, realised how much I had written about it in the past few years, and sadly, how deeply relevant some of that early writing still is.

This presentation dealt with some key concepts and ideas around SSTR and HADR operations today, and was aimed at an audience largely from the US military as well as various arms of the State Department.

Had a superb conversation with the person who headed the State Department’s response to Assange’s Cablegate, and met a few other interesting individuals as well. What struck me, and not for the first time, is how open the US DoD and military is to changing information landscapes and how the adoption of new technologies not just changes the way analysis is done, but also in effect changes the nature of the institutions themselves. On the other hand, folk from USAID are stuck in a groove, and see ICTs as new tools for promoting their hard nosed approaches to development. No engagement here, just appropriation of new tools for old theories of development – so not very progressive.

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