Chris Neary is a producer for On the Media.
Caitlin Howarth: Student and Human Rights Monitor
Thursday, October 06, 2011 - 01:38 PM
A short follow-up on this week's story about the Satellite Sentinel Project.
In this week's episode Brooke spoke with Jonathan Hutson from the Satellite Sentinel Project. In the conversation, it came up that some of the analysts for the program -- the people who study the satellite images -- were Harvard undergrads and graduates. (And there are other students from Boston College, MIT and other universities).
One of those student analysts is Caitlin Howarth, 26, a grad student at the Kennedy School of Government. She's had an interest in human rights abuses since she was an undergrad at the University of Virginia, where her she did her thesis was on genocide.
Most of the students who work at the project have some sort of 'core competency' they bring to the project. Howarth's skill is layout and design - she works on preparing the project’s publications. Other students have expertise in crisis mapping or have coding skills.
She says the nature of Sentinel Project means the students have a different experience than people in other human rights organizations.
"The tone is more positive around the project because we're not doing this work after the fact, we're looking at the situation on the ground. We have these break-thru moments because we’re looking at this in real time."
The analysts' try to set high standards for themselves – the hope is their findings could be used in a trial against human right violators.
“You might look at something that’s on the ground and say – ‘Oh I think that’s this sort of tank or that sort of tank. But you’ve got be really sure, you’ve got to be able to say this is a T-55 tank and I’m certain about that.”
One more thing: Howarth says that the Satellite project has attracted the attention of people on the ground in Sudan. “They’re cognizant that we’re watching,” she says. “We can see that Khartoum ranks number two for locations looking at our site.”