New media and information technology have changed the means of communication, organisation and coordination on a global scale and consequently affected global politics. The Arab Spring demonstrated the influence new media instigates in shaping public opinion and influencing societal changes. New media have a significant potential for facilitating communication, information-sharing and crisis response. Thus, the usefulness of new media is undeniable, although there are potential risks involved with their proliferation.
Peace Operations have thus far been unable to fully utilise the potentials of new media tools and integrate them into their information toolkit. This can be attributed to unfamiliarity of mission staff with their functionality as well as a general scepticism over the security of new media tools. Moreover, security protocols in peace operations often prevent mission staff from accessing new media tools and sometimes even block these platforms.
However, international organisations have begun taking steps to integrate the potentials of new media tools into peacebuilding operations by exploring options where new technology can render peace operations more effective within various areas of responsibility. Thus, significant inquiries into the possible contributions as well as challenges and security threats of new media tools and information technology are in progress in order to identify the appropriate mode of use within crisis management.
In conflict zones, rapid and informed decision-making can be crucial for crisis de-escalation. Emerging web-, mobile-, and internet-based platforms for information dissemination are experiencing vast amounts of content production at a very quick pace. This trend provides significant opportunities as well as inadmissible challenges to civilian crisis management experts. Therefore it is vital that experts are well familiarised with all the aspects surrounding new media tools in order to take advantage of their characteristics as well as to avert possible risks.
Our training course on New Media Tools and Techniques in Civilian Crisis Management improves the awareness of experts deployed to peace operations regarding the role new media can play in crisis areas and are able to comfortably utilise them while protecting themselves from security threats that are accompanied by increased exposure to new media tools.