Online Networks Foster Civil-Military Cooperation

    The military has been criticized for not coordinating their development efforts with traditional aid workers. Online networks could be used as a bridge to link civilian aid workers with there military counterparts.

    Social networks can be "excellent forums" to bring together different types of knowledge, "from a USAID officer on the ground to a Marine officer at headquarters," said Guy Ben-Ari, fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, at a Feb. 10 event in Washington on network-centric development. The U.S. military is trying to build online communities to work with "non-traditional" partners such as nonprofits and aid agencies.

    Ben-Ari went on to highlight key prerequisites for building networks of development stakeholders. The event also featured DAI's Ulrich Ernst, who spoke about the potential of online networks and mobile phones, as well as Development Practitioners Forum President Tony Barclay. DAI's Kristi Ragan discussed new USAID strategies to spur aid innovation, the importance of trust in online networks, and the need to rethink our approach to technology. Cesar Hidalgo, of Harvard's Center for International Development, spoke about the Internet's role to foster community, and how network science may explain economic growth patterns.

    About the author

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      Oliver Subasinghe

      Oliver joined Devex in late 2008 as an international development correspondent and researcher. He previously served as a microfinance fellow for Kiva in Kenya and Uganda. During his tenure, he worked with Kiva’s field partners to improve their operations and governance. Oliver holds a master's in business from the College of William & Mary.

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