Humanitarianism At Harvard
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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.
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...
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.
"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."
- " George Clooney's satellite spies reveal secrets of Sudan's bloody army; The Guardian, March 24, 2012
- "George Clooney And The New Ethics Of Satellite Surveillance," International Business Times, March 16, 2012
- "Crisis Mapping Needs an Ethical Compass," GlobalBrief, February 6, 2012
- "Famine as a Weapon: It's Time to Stop Starvation in Sudan," Time, December 8, 2011
- "George Clooney's Satellites Build a Case Against an Alleged War Criminal," Time, December 3, 2011
- "Sudan Air Bases Built Up Near South Sudan Border, Group Says," Huffington Post, November 11, 2011
- "Sudan Upgrades Military Airbases Along Southern Border," Voice of America, November 11, 2011
- "Rights groups accuse Sudan of 'indiscriminate' bombings," CNN, August 31, 2011
- An Open Letter from HHI and the Satellite Sentinel Project to Ambassador Andrew Natsios
Below are the most recently published reports from the Satellite Sentinel Project. For the full list of the program's publications, please go here.
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
Director of Operations
Satellite Imagery Analysis and Collection Manager
firstname.lastname@example.org (Primary Satellite Sentinel Project Contact)
Deputy Director of Operations
Data Analysis Coordinator
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