Satellite Sentinel Project

The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) represents one of HHI's chief projects in the Crisis Mapping and Early Warning Program. While at HHI, the Satellite Sentinel Project combined satellite imagery, on-the-ground field reporting, and crisis mapping systems into a unified monitoring platform to detect, deter, and document threats to vulnerable populations. HHI directed the research, operational, and technical components of the Satellite Sentinel Project from their offices on the Harvard University campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

SSP represents a watershed moment in the development of “protective humanitarian” technologies by employing the strategic collection and targeted presentation of data to deter and prevent mass atrocities.  SSP’s work related to the crisis in Sudan marked the first sustained, public effort to systematically monitor and report on potential hotspots and threats to security along a border. The training, methodology and tools designed by HHI for SSP are scalable so that they may be used in a diversity of rapid response, human rights, and human security contexts.

final wrap up - revised 3 picture

18 July 2012

The Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, has released a report on the pilot phase which began in December 2010 and concluded 1 June 2012. This report contains highlights over the past 18 months including a summary of operations, and satellite imagery.

With the completion of the pilot phase of SSP on 1 June 2012, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) concluded its participation in SSP. HHI has transitioned out of SSP, launching the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology with the aim of establishing the first codified technical standards and professional ethics for crisis mapping, including the use of remote sensing and data management technologies pioneered by SSP...

Download full report here. Please click here to see past reports.

 

IN THE MEDIA

With over 8,000 unique media hits globally, the strength of HHI’s SSP product has resulted in prominent coverage by the New York Times, New Yorker, Newsweek, NPR, Time, PBS Newshour, the BBC, the Guardian, and the Associated Press. For more information on recent media profiles of the Satellite Sentinel Project and other Crisis Mapping & Early Warning Projects, please click here.

sudan policy letter 11-21-11

62 Members of Congress Sign Letter to President Obama Citing SSP's Work and Calling for US Policy Shift on Sudan

"In civilian areas controlled by the SPLM-North, there are reports of extrajudicial killings, illegal detention, disappearances, and attacks against civilians. Evidence gathered through satellite imagery by the Satellite Sentinel Project shows at least eight mass graves in and around Kadugli, the capital of Southern Kordofan."

 

REPORTS

Below are the most recently published reports from the Satellite Sentinel Project. For the full list of the program's publications, please go here.

final wrap up - revised 3 picture

Making the World a Witness: Report on the Pilot Phase

18 July 2012

The Satellite Sentinel Project, or SSP, has released a report on the pilot phase which began in December 2010 and concluded 1 June 2012. This report contains highlights over the past 18 months including a summary of operations, and satellite imagery. With the completion of the pilot phase of SSP on 1 June 2012, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) concluded its participation in SSP. HHI has transitioned out of SSP, launching the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology with the aim of establishing the first codified technical standards and professional ethics for crisis mapping, including the use of remote sensing and data management technologies pioneered by SSP...

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Escalation: Evidence of SAF and SPLA Combat Operations

23 April 2012

The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has confirmed through the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery that Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) have deployed a significantly increased number of combat capable air assets within range of South Sudan’s border and territory. SSP has documented evidence consistent with reported aerial bombardment in close proximity to a strategic bridge located in Unity State, South Sudan. SAF spokesman al-Sawarmi Khaled Saad denied Sudan’s involvement in the bombings....

 

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Pipeline: Evidence of the Destruction of Key Oil Infrastructure

22 April 2012

The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), through the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery captured 15 April 2012, has found evidence of the destruction of key oil pipeline infrastructure in Heglig, South Kordofan, Sudan. SSP has also found cratering consistent with bombardment of some form visible in close proximity to nearby oil pipeline and oil production facilities. SSP cannot make a determination based on the evidence currently available as to either who destroyed the object consistent with an oil...

 

 

BACKGROUND

SSP was launched as a pilot project on December 29, 2010, as the result of an unprecedented collaboration between actor and activist George Clooney and Enough Project co-founder John Prendergast with HHI, Not On Our Watch, the Enough Project, Google, the United Nations UNITAR Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT), DigitalGlobe, and Trellon, LLC.

Until 1 June 2012, when the pilot phase concluded, HHI led the daily collection, analysis, and corroboration of on-the-ground reports and DigitalGlobe satellite imagery. The Enough Project contributed field reports and led the advocacy and communications strategy.

SSP’s pilot mission; tracking threats to civilians in the border region between North and South Sudan, was an unprecedented success. While at HHI, SSP captured near real-time evidence of the escalating violence in Abyei and South Kordofan, Sudan, including North Sudan’s invasion of oil-producing Abyei in May, 2011 and alleged mass grave sites in Kadugli. These notable successes to date offer clear proof of concept. SSP successfully predicted the Government of Sudan’s invasion of the Abyei region and subsequent displacement of Abyei’s civilian population. In addition, SSP provided the UN Security Council and the International Criminal Court with irrefutable, visual evidence of war crimes and possible crimes against humanity.

Through HHI’s analysis of DigitalGlobe imagery and ground-level reports, including the field reports of the Enough Project, SSP became the first project to capture imagery from space consistent with body bags being put in mass graves; tanks assembling to strike at civilian populations; the smoldering remains of grass and mud homes only hours after villages have been burnt to the ground; and Sudanese soldiers and paramilitaries loading trucks with looted supplies from a World Food Programme compound.

In less than 18 months, SSP helped transform human rights documentation during armed conflict and redefined the possible applications of satellite imagery analysis for preventing atrocities and holding perpetrators of war crimes accountable.

MEET OUR TEAM

Nathaniel Raymond
Director of Operations

Isaac Baker
Satellite Imagery Analysis and Collection Manager
isaac@satsentinel.org (Primary Satellite Sentinel Project Contact)

Benjamin Davies
Deputy Director of Operations
bdavies@hsph.harvard.edu

Brittany Card
Data Analysis Coordinator

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