Persuasive tech, youth gang violence and new pathways to shared value in Bolivia


Pervasive fears about crime erode social cohesion and trust, and push people towards isolation. The perception of insecurity in Bolivia has deteriorated significantly in recent years, overtaking unemployment, poverty, inequality or civil unrest as the main public concern. According to official estimates, young people aged 12 to 30 years perpetrate more than 80 percent of violence and insecurity in Bolivia’s major cities. How can persuasive technology and behaviour design be used to improve this situation and rebuild social capital in communities most affected by violence?

The workshop titled “Persuasive Technologies for Youth Gang Violence Prevention”, held at Universidad Privada de Santa Cruz de la Sierra (21-22 May 2014), brought together 60 technologists, government officials, scholars and community activists to rapid prototype web interventions seeking to scale positive engagement between high-risk youths and other groups, and thereby explore new models of social value and wealth creation for citizens, businesses, neighbourhoods, local governments and banking institutions. Led by Mark Nelson, Stanford Peace Innovation Lab Co-Director, the event marked the launch of the Peace Innovation Lab in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, as part of a global field lab network providing rigorous test-beds and global access to markets for technology mediated interventions that deliver positive peace.

Inaugural partners and associates include  Universidad Autónoma de Gabriel René Moreno (UAGRM), Universidad Privada de Santa Cruz de la Sierra (UPSA), Fundación Trabajo Empresa, National Academy of Sciences of Bolivia (Santa Cruz Chapter), Sintesis S.A., Bolivian Chamber of Information Technologies and Open Marabunta.


The UAGRM Faculty of Humanities made this short video  Taller de Technologias Persuasivas of the event. 


Movement for Empathy and Social Wellbeing (Meetup on July 6)

Numerous studies have cited the importance of movement and exercise to reduce personal stress, offset depression and improve overall health and well-being.  As individuals devote more time to their personal devices, there is a corresponding decline in time dedicated to face to face social activities, movement and fitness in the physical world. 

How might mobile social technology be designed to be part of the solution rather than part of the problem? 

Moreover, since studies also show a direct corelation between coordinated physical motion with others and empathy for them, how might we design applications that encourage people to meet to engage in coordinated movement (such as dance, sports and other fitness activities) that would result in stronger social cohesion and empathy? Can we design improved health to increase community peace, and use improved peace to motivate improved health?

We had a great two hours of brainstorming and prototyping sprint as we imagine new ways of rediscovering our bodies, our friends and community, and the larger physical world.


Mark Nelson & Margarita Quihuis, Co-Directors, Stanford Peace Innovation Lab

Designing Peace Technology for Fun and Profit

Mark spoke on the topic at the University of Namur, on March 28, 2014. He explained how interactions between information technologies and actors can improve the virtual positive engagement between actors and hence the generation of new ideas in an innovative collaboration mode. Mark then invited UNamur to join the Peace Innovation Lab network to research together in a collaborative way on those issues.

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