New Tech Challenge: Can Technology Can Be Used to Stop Atrocities?

If you think so, the U.S. Agency for International Development and Humanity United want to hear from you. The groups have announced a competition for people looking to apply technology to the prevention of atrocities around the world. And it’s not too late to get involved. Here is a March 6 statement with some more detail:

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 and final round of the Tech Challenge for Atrocity Prevention and competition, 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”:

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 those “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.”

If you’re up to the challenge, here are some links to get started: Submissions, guidelines and other information can be found at http://thetechchallenge.org. The hosts will hold a Google+ hangout on Friday, March 8 at 2:00 EST and there is a video about the competition on YouTube. Follow the competition on Twitter via the hashtag #genprevtech.

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