Crowdseeding in Eastern Congo: Using Cell Phones to Collect Conflict Events Data in Real Time

Peter Van der Windt, Macartan Humphreys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Poor-quality data about conflict events can hinder humanitarian responses and bias academic research. There is increasing recognition of the role that new information technologies can play in producing more reliable data faster. We piloted a novel data-gathering system in the Democratic Republic of Congo in which villagers in a set of randomly selected communities report on events in real time via short message service. We first describe the data and assess its reliability. We then examine the usefulness of such “crowdseeded” data in two ways. First, we implement a downstream experiment on aid and conflict and find evidence that aid can lead to fewer conflict events. Second, we examine conflict diffusion in Eastern Congo and find evidence that key dynamics operate at very micro levels. Both applications highlight the benefit of collecting conflict data via cell phones in real time.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)748-781
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Conflict Resolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2014


  • conflict
  • conflict management
  • foreign aid
  • humanitarian intervention

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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