Skip Cole at Smart Tools for Smart Power: Simulations and Serious Games for Peacebuilding

Skip Cole at Smart Tools for Smart Power: Simulations and Serious Games for Peacebuilding

Skip Cole, Senior Program Officer, Education and Training Center, U.S. Institute of Peace

On July 16, 2009, USIP’s Center of Innovation for Science, Technology and Peacebuilding hosted a full-day multimedia showcase of state-of-the-art simulation and “serious gaming” tools that promise to transform the way that peacebuilding organizations train, plan and collaborate. The “Smart Tools for Smart Power” event featured presentations from such innovators as IBM, the Army War College, EBay, Lockheed Martin, Second Life, and USIP’s own Education and Training Center. U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer Beth Noveck presented the keynote address, in which she noted that the Obama administration sees “serious” games as an important, largely untapped way to enable innovation in government and civic engagement.

The event explored how the latest online and scenario-driven simulations and 3D virtual environments can be applied to sharpen decision-making skills and lay the foundation for more effective peace operations, negotiation, and cooperation. Attendees at USIP’s Washington, D.C. headquarters were given hands-on demonstrations of state-of-the-art tools, some with current application to conflict management and some to inspire new ideas for the peacebuilding community.

The event also engaged more than 300 online participants from 24 countries as varied as Kenya, Spain, Mauritania, Israel, and Brazil using various online social media. Many of them participated in an active parallel discussion and Q&A with presenters, through chat and social networking platforms like Twitter, where some 30 users discussed the event’s proceedings throughout the day.

The event — conducted in collaboration with Lockheed Martin’s Center of Innovation and Eastern Mennonite University’s 3D Security Initiative — also marked the beginning of an unprecedented public-private innovation partnership.

Going forward, USIP’s “Smart Tools for Smart Power” initiative aims to help all organizations that seek to mitigate violent conflict take full advantage of the most cutting-edge simulations, analytics, serious games and other technology-enabled decision-support and collaboration tools.


This event is part of the Centers ongoing Smart Tools for Smart Power initiative to identify cutting-edge technologies that may enable peacebuilding organizations to better prevent and resolve violent conflict through data-driven decision-making, information sharing, analytics, and online collaboration.

If you would like more information about the initiative, please contact Joel Whitaker ( and Anand Varghese (

The Smart Tools for Smart Power initiative is led by the US Institute of Peaces Center of Innovation for Science, Technology and Peacebuilding, co-sponsored by USIPs Education and Training Center and Center for Post-Conflict Peace and Stability Operations, in partnership with the 3D Security Initiative of Eastern Mennonite University and Lockheed Martins Center for Innovation.


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