published on Stability: International Journal of Security and Development 2 (3), p.Art. 58
This paper will critically explore why mobile phones have drawn so much interest from the conflict management community in Kenya, and develop a general set of factors to explain why mobile phones can have a positive effect on conflict prevention efforts generally. Focusing on theories of information asymmetry and security dilemmas, collective action problems, and the role of third party actors in conflict prevention, it aims to continue the discussion around Pierskalla and Hollenbach’s recent research on mobile phones and conflict risk. Given the successful, high profile uses of mobile phone-based violence prevention in Kenya I will identify a set of political and social factors that contribute to the success of crowdsourcing programs that use mobile phones, and explain what makes them transferable across cases for conflict prevention in other countries. The primary findings are that a population must prefer non-violence since technology is a magnifier of human intent, that the events of violence start and stop relative to specific events, the population knows to use their phones to share information about potential violence, and that there are third party actors involved in collecting and validating the crowdsourced data.