The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) is collaborating on a new human rights project initiated by George Clooney to monitor tension in Sudan surrounding the country’s January 9, 2011 referendum on independence for oil-rich southern Sudan. In response to fears that the event may spark civil war and humanitarian disaster, the Satellite Sentinel Project uses satellite imagery and crowd-sourced mapping to capture evidence of violence and possible threats to civilians in near real-time. HHI researchers analyze and evaluate the satellite imagery, provide system-wide research, and lead the collection, human rights analysis, and corroboration of on-the-ground reports that contextualize the images.
The project, which launched December 29, 2010 is funded by Clooney’s human rights organization Not On Our Watch, and is a collaboration between HHI and the Enough Project, UNOSAT (the United Nations UNITAR Operational Satellite Applications Programme), Google, and Internet strategy and development firm Trellon, LLC. It marks the first sustained, public effort to systematically monitor and report on potential hotspots and threats to security along a border, in near real-time, with the aim of preventing humanitarian disaster before it occurs, according to HHI.