Helping Aid Agencies Balance Safety and Mission

April 12, 2024 · 2 min read

While the world focused on the growing conflict in Ethiopia In 2021, VoxCroft remained focused on the burgeoning threat this violence posed to major aid agencies. Indeed, agency decision makers were balancing key priorities on a machete’s edge: fulfilling their mandate to help the local people in what was quickly becoming a humanitarian crisis and protecting their staff from targeted attacks. VoxCroft’s careful monitoring of public sentiment toward this agency and the nature of rhetoric targeting the group allowed them to continue their work for three weeks after other agencies had evacuated their teams, saving the lives of both civilians in need and agency staff.

Leveraging Tools to Access Hyperlocal Information

VoxCroft uses proprietary tools and tradecraft to track hyperlocal indicators of rising violence before they reach a boiling point, allowing us to provide our clients with a robust picture of their operating environment:

Tracking Attitudes and Emotions.
Voices on both social and traditional media are a representation of the community in what is often called the “digital public square.” Studies have shown that even in a virtual environment, individuals tend to only  vocalize private feelings of anger or frustration toward an entity  in a public setting when it has become socially acceptable to do so or in an attempt to create that acceptance. A community speaking  openly against an organization or group on social media is not only an indication of the underlying anger or frustration, but also a sign  of heightened risk of public action. In the case of our client in Ethiopia, VoxCroft tracked attitudes and emotions in social and traditional media toward Western aid agencies generally and our client specifically to provide detailed, data-driven analysis and advice on the threat to our client and the broader context in which these threats were unfolding.

Using Vernacular Languages. VoxCroft’s robust translational algorithms provide us access to the voice of the people where and how it is truly spoken, allowing us to access not the easiest sources of information, but the most relevant to any given environment. In Ethiopia, VoxCroft used its translation algorithms to exploit content in Tigrinya and Oromo, among other languages, an ability that allowed us to discover inflammatory rhetoric wherever it was present, including the travel section of a state-owned newspaper.

Leveraging Human Experience. Even the best AI tools have limitations, which is why VoxCroft relies on a team of highly-trained analysts to provide our clients with the key insights our data tools provide. For example, our weekly analytic products synthesizing and explaining the output of our AI tools allowed us to quickly keep our client apprised of the ground truth, allowing them in turn to make prompt decisions about the balance between staff safety and mission imperatives.

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