Our smaller, faster-paced world is changing the security landscape, and these changes will bring with them new challenges and evolutions in current threats. To respond to these changes, we must adapt instruments of statecraft to bring to bear the networks, technologies and human potential of our increasingly inter-dependent and interconnected world. In this spirit, on August 28, 2012, the Department of State launched the Innovation in Arms Control Challenge asking "How Can the Crowd Support Arms Control Transparency Efforts?"
Through this Challenge, we will collect new ideas about how innovation and technological advancement can affect the implementation of arms control, verification, and nonproliferation treaties and agreements. Can innovation bring about creative ways to prevent "loose nukes" from falling into the hands of terrorists? Can smart phone and tablet apps be created for the purpose of aiding on-site inspectors in verifying and monitoring treaty commitments? How can we use commonly available technologies in new and creative ways to support our arms control policy efforts?
Over the past three years, the Department of State has been reshaping our diplomatic agenda to meet old and new challenges by deploying one of America's great assets -- innovation. Inspired by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's emphasis on harnessing new technologies and 21st century statecraft, we have been working to elevate American "civilian power" to advance our national security interests, making partners of the United States government and its citizens.
As an arms control policy wonk and negotiator, I see great value in incorporating innovative ideas across the whole spectrum of our arms control initiatives. As we look to the future of arms control, new thinking to face the challenges of the 21st century is vital to our success.
This Challenge is an experiment in that thinking. It seeks creative ideas from across the general public, from garage tinkerers and technologists; to gadget entrepreneurs and students, to support the U.S. arms control and nonproliferation agenda. Are there new ways that we can use existing data, such as Twitter streams, to generate information that will be useful to arms control and nonproliferation verification and monitoring? Are there ways that we can help our inspectors to do their jobs better, by having better tools available? Are there ways that governments and citizens can work together to ensure better monitoring and verification of treaties and agreements?
These are the types of questions that we are asking contestants to consider. We are looking for creative ways to tackle the long-standing problems of arms control and nonproliferation verification and monitoring, keeping in mind the big challenges that come about as we move to reduce nuclear weapons to lower numbers, and look for ways to monitor smaller units of account, such as chemical munitions in storage facilities. No matter how big the challenges, when we attack problems with all the brainpower that is available, we can solve them more effectively together.
The contest runs until October 26, 2012 and is open to all U.S. citizens or permanent residents. There is a guaranteed award of up to $10,000. To register please, click here.