Modern Diplomacy Fueled by Real-time Information
By Morgan Hitzig, Senior Director, Strategic Partnerships, Dataminr
The speed of data globalization and information flows has created a paradigm shift in the way we live and work, from how we communicate with friends and family to how companies market to consumers. And while many of those in the public sector have been criticized for being slow to innovate, the diplomatic domain isn’t untouched by digitalization.
In fact, the proliferation of social media platforms, mobile technologies, and the resulting wealth of publicly available datasets has given birth to digital-driven diplomacy. Diplomacy is no longer confined to boardrooms housed in multilateral organizations, but in the digital domain, and often in 280 characters or less.
For example, social media is used by heads of state government, intergovernmental agencies and other diplomatic officials to engage with the public and disperse information. Oftentimes government officials use social media to provide updates on COVID-19, such as travel restrictions and availability of testing.
This usage shows us that we now have an opportunity to uplevel digital diplomacy, yet questions remain. How can diplomats be more effective, act faster, digest more, and make key decisions within a moment’s notice? The answer lies in access to real-time information. How can organizations distill today’s plethora of data––across the globe with a growing list of languages and cultural sensitivities––into relevant insights? That answer resides in artificial intelligence (AI).
Real-Time Data Closes Key Gaps
Diplomacy is nuanced, deeply interpersonal and dependent on negotiations that span languages, cultures, and geographies. That said, the most effective transnational conversations are those where diplomats on both sides can easily overcome both physical and culture gaps.
Technology can help public sector organizations bridge those gaps with access to AI-powered tools. For example, Dataminr’s First Alert product for the public sector uses an AI platform to alert on breaking news, enabling the fastest real-time response. These alerts, which are available in multiple languages, allow diplomats to maintain real-time visibility into news as it unfolds—creating a common language and set of facts.
That’s one key way real-time information can close cultural and proximity gaps, a need that became evident when the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the traditional diplomacy activities were upended. But with the adoption of real-time information discovery tools, relevant events and risks are shared across agencies regardless of location.
As countries and intergovernmental organizations look for ways to harness the power of AI, they should first consider how to respond to the call for an interoperable ontology. The ability to answer this question will be key: Does our data speak the same language—across partners, departments, and platforms?
Failure to answer that question puts foreign policy and national security teams at risk for developing algorithms and databases in a vacuum. But if we get the frameworks right from the outset, we can create a digital diplomatic language supported by the real-time, relevant information needed to keep pace with our ever-changing, interconnected world.