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Detecting Human Rights Violations Using Medium Resolution Imagery

Dr. Andrew Marx of the US Department of State and a fellow at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide, developed a novel method for analyzing archived data from NASA’s Landsat ETM+ mission to better understand when and where specific villages were destroyed in the Darfur conflict from 2003-08. This study provides the most comprehensive documentation of the geospatial and temporal patterns of villages destroyed in that genocide. This analysis can help determine patterns of coordination between various military forces carrying out attacks or potentially with the Sudanese central government (Sudan’s president, Omar al-Bashir, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes related to the genocide in Darfur). Understanding these patterns also has the potential to help determine if actions by the international community, such as international condemnations of genocide, had any impact on the rate of attacks.

Palantir has been honored to partner philanthropically with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Andrew Marx to document atrocities in Darfur, Sudan. While Dr. Marx developed a novel way of analyzing satellite imagery to determine when villages were destroyed, Palantir was able to help the Museum visualize and understand trends in the destructions that were uncovered. Palantir Gotham’s Map application was used to document what village burnings looked like over time, and the resulting video is available on YouTube (and below):

You can read more about this project on the Museum’s blog at Detecting Human Rights Violations with Satellites: CPG Fellow Proposes a New Approach or download Dr. Marx’s full report, A New Approach to Detecting Mass Human Rights Violations Using Satellite Imagery. Finally, you can hear more about the US Holocaust Museum and their work on mass atrocities by listening to this Palantir Night Live talk featuring Mike Abramowitz, the director of the Museum’s Center for the Prevention of Genocide.

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