Carr Center gets involved in the Satellite Sentinel Project.
A picture of one of the Satellite Sentinel's interactive maps.
In late December, the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy began contributing
to the Satellite
Sentinel Project, a groundbreaking initiative that is attempting to use satellite
imagery to prevent a return to genocide in the Sudan.
The Christian Science Monitor describes
the project as, “what
may be the most
ambitious project of its kind, the United Nations and human rights
advocates in the
US are turning to satellite images and the Web to monitor the border between
northern and southern Sudan, as the south prepares for a referendum on Jan. 9
that could split the country in two.”
The project was started and is primarily funded by Not On Our Watch, a human rights
group co-founded by actor George Clooney. Additional support comes from Google and
the web site design company Trellon, which are providing the Web interface and the
The project's affiliation with Harvard comes through the Harvard
Humanitarian Initiative (HHI),
which serves as the University-wide center for the Sentinel Project. Specifically, the Harvard
Humanitarian Initiative is responsible for two functions within the Satellite Sentinel Project:
research and evaluation of the system's effectiveness, and human rights documentation.
The Carr Center connection with the project comes through the work of two people: Drs. David
Yanagizawa-Drott and Charlie Clements. Dr.
Yanagizawa-Drott, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and
a Carr Center Faculty Affiliate, will be leading the research and evaluation team; while the
Carr Center's Executive Director, Dr. Charlie
Clements, also an adjunct lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School,
will be leading the effort to
document any human rights violations. Both Yanagizawa-Drott
and Clements are also faculty members of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative.
What makes the Sentinel project different from past monitoring efforts which have attempted to
use satellite imagery, is its use of nearly real time images. For what may be the first time
for a non governmental organization, the project's analysts will have access to fresh images
every 24 to 36 hours, allowing them to notice changes on the ground which may signal danger
to civilian populations. The photographs will also provide a record of events, allowing
those responsible to be held accountable, should violence occur.
Both the images and the analysis will be posted
on a public web site using interactive
map technology. The idea is that by making this material publicly available, the project can
mobilize public opinion, thereby bringing pressure on governments to respond quickly to
abuses, as they are revealed.
The Satellite Sentinel Project in the News
"Satellite Imagery Checks Violence Along Sudan's Border," (includes photos, audio, & video)
PRI's The World, December 7, 2011.
"I Spy: George Clooney turns long-lens photography into a force for good,"
LA Times Magazine, December 4, 2011.
"George Clooney's Satellites Build a Case Against an Alleged War Criminal,"
Time Magazine, December 3, 2011.
"Sudan: Satellites Show Razing of Sudanese Village by Sudan Armed Forces,"
News from Africa, December 1, 2011.
“Satellite group reports Sudanese military buildup,”
CNN, November 11, 2011.
“Sudan: Satellite images provide Irrefutable and nearly immediate proof of war crimes,”
Global Post, August 31, 2011.
"Sudanese military deployments tracked from space,"
UPI, July 6, 2011.
"Satellite Photos Show Weaponry in Sudan,"
New York Times, April 7, 2011.
"Signs of Razing in Contested Part of Sudan,"
The New York Times, March 7, 2011.
ABC News “This Week,”
ABC News, January 2, 2011.
“George Clooney-backed satellite project to monitor volatile Sudan,”
The Christian Science Monitor, December 29, 2010.
“George Clooney and Google launch satellite plan to avert Sudan violence,”
The Gardian.uk, December 29, 2010.
“Monitoring human rights? Get a satellite,”
The Christian Science Monitor, June 22, 2010.