Sudan, secession, George Clooney and satellites

Starting next Sunday, citizens living in the southern half of Africa’s biggest country, Sudan, are expected to vote to split into two countries.

The BBC gives a good overview of what has prompted and preceded this vote, and what’s at stake.

I’m usually not a big fan of celebrities inserting themselves — and their usually simplistic strategies — into the public dialogue around such issues or events. But chances are, many of you have paid attention to Sudan partly due to the fact that actor George Clooney has been helping draw attention to what’s going on there.

Now, with this crucial vote coming amid fears of violent retaliation from northern Sudan the ONE campaign notes that Clooney is doing much more than just use his celebrity to draw media attention.

Clooney and other celebrities active in this cause have established a system to monitor the voting — and to watch for retaliation or violence — using a collaborative initiative involving commercial satellites, Google mapping technology and field reports.

It’s called the Satellite Sentinel Project and will allow those on the ground to do real-time monitoring of activities to ensure the Sudanese vote goes forward.

Wow! Maybe somebody ought to make a movie about this. Until then, here’s a news clip about it:

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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at]humanosphere.org or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.