What do a graduate student from California, an aerospace/defense industry consultant from Florida, and a research scientist working on computational neurology and brain-machine interfaces in Georgia all have in common? They share a strong interest in developing and adapting instruments that could one day advance U.S. arms control policy and objectives.
Today, the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance announced three winners of our first Innovation in Arms Control Challenge. Last summer, we launched a prize incentive challenge and asked the public, "How Can the Crowd Support Arms Control Transparency Efforts?" This challenge sought creative ideas from the general public to use commonly available technologies to support arms control verification efforts.
We received interest from more than 500 potential solvers from across the United States with solutions that largely fell into four broad categories: smartphone apps, Internet websites and games, sensor array schemes, and "big data" crunching.
So why a prize challenge? Governments have long used prizes to drive innovation and citizen engagement to produce societal benefit. Prize competitions, such as this innovation challenge, stimulate attention, encourage innovation in a highly leveraged and results-focused way, and mobilize new talent and ideas. Incentive prizes are becoming a standard tool in every Federal agency's toolbox to spur innovation and solve tough problems. With more than 200 prizes offered by over 45 Federal agencies so far, open innovation and incentive prizes are showing promise for catalyzing new solutions for difficult and complex issues, and are bringing more public awareness to certain topics.
Recognizing the important challenges ahead of us in arms control, we'll continue collaborative efforts that can utilize open government data and the combined force of citizens working together in the interests of enhancing security.
On Friday, March 8, 2013, in Austin, Texas, Acting Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller will be speaking at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive in a Featured Session, Mobilizing Ingenuity to Strengthen Global Security, with Daniel Terdiman of CNET News, where the State Department will enlist the public's participation at SXSW and preview our next challenge. This challenge will present a unique opportunity for the American public to contribute to enhancing global security and improving how policy makers approach future challenges at combating WMDs with the help of technology. We hope this unique opportunity will facilitate the convergence of new tech and international diplomacy. To participate in this interactive discussion, tweet your questions using the hashtag #StateDeptSXSW, and continue the conversation with @Gottemoeller on Twitter.