How to get trustworthy data?

On Thu 17th of May we our project took a deep dive into the world of artificial intelligence. Antti Rauhala from talked about what AI is and how it can be used. After that the groups continued from our previous workshop’s case example of South Sudan.

To summarize Rauhala’s speech, one could say that there is always a decision related to any AI system. You can find patterns, make predictions or mimic a human expert, but in the end there is a decision to make. That decision should probably be made by a human aided by the machine.

Our group work included two example ideas that might be used in a crisis area. One was an early warning system and the other a system for collecting and showing up-to-date information of the crisis.

In both cases there were three concerns for the data:

1) Data quality is something that can be hard to maintain even in perfect conditions. Inconsistent format or missing pieces of information cause defects that are hard to fix.

2) Data trustworthiness should be questioned in conflict areas. There are few (if any) trusted sources in conflict areas. Extra care needs to be taken to avoid deliberately altered data.

3) Data ethics is a trending term and a very important topic. Which data is used? How privacy is protected? Questions that don’t yet have industry-wide answers.

There was plenty of discussion on the topics. In conflict areas nothing can be taken for granted. For example, taking notes is not as straight forward as you might think. In some cases not even paper and pen are allowed in discussions.

Another problem is the rigidness of infrastructure. Assuming, for example, that electricity is available for you solution, might render you piece of peace tech useless very fast.

Two key findings were made from the discussion.

Gathering live situation brought up an idea of phone line were reports could be called in. While peace builders have discussions with locals the notes often take time to be gathered and sent to all the parties. When notes would be gathered over phone and transcripts made by machines the notes would be available immediately.

From technology’s point of view there are two interesting upsides. Phones are very reliable technology. Sure, there are situations when even they are out, but it’s still much more likely to get a phone call through than get a good internet connection working. And for data security, the access to the system can be restricted better when the data input isn’t online but a phone call.

Another key finding in the workshop was that we can follow not only the data that we are able to collect, but also the data that is missing. For example, we can identify active members of the community and follow their actions in social media. If some key actor in the area suddenly stops posting or there is a clear change in the style of communication, we can raise a question whether something is happening.

As always, both of these ideas should be customized and fitted to local needs.


Our project’s last event will be held on the 31st of May. Then we are testing out some peace tech design tools that have been developed during our project. The results, as always, can be found in this blog.