Data in the digital age data has transformed the way we live our lives, from artificial intelligence and drones, to drug discovery software and algorithms which predict our music choices – data makes the world go round. And it is now also being used to shape policy and bring about substantial change in some of the most unstable areas on the planet.
The Elva platform works by gathering information to build a picture of localised events in real time. Whether mapping conflict in Libya, public health in Indonesia or violence in Bangkok, data comes directly from the community. Anyone signed up to the platform can send information via SMS or their smartphone, and once on the Elva platform, it is automatically forwarded to decision makers and development organisations. With a clear picture of what’s happening on the ground, aid and development can be targeted to the most needed areas.
Similarly to platforms such as Ushahidi, which takes in localised reports and maps them, Elva also produces map-based visualisations which can be tracked on a timeline in order to understand how events spread.
Development expert Jonne Catshoek first set up the non-profit in 2011 as a response to the fierce conflict between Russia and Georgia. In communities close to the border of the South-Osseita region, messages were sent via mobile phone, with information on violence, disappearances or detentions in the area. The project allowed people to overcome a sense of insecurity left by a violent conflict over two decades.
Part of a wider movement working to create a more responsive, better targeted humanitarian responses, Elva is now developing a specific programme in response to the refugee crisis as well as a field manual for peacebuilders in areas of conflict.
Jonne Catshoek, Founder