Members of the public are invited to develop and submit ideas to an essay contest on the potential uses of open source information and technology to support international arms control initiatives.
“The contest aims to harness the ingenuity of American and Russian citizens to think creatively about innovative ways to use open source information and communication technologies for arms control verification, compliance monitoring, and monitoring of sensitive facilities,” the CNS said in its announcement.
While an essay contest is not a momentous undertaking, this one does seem to represent a wholesome awareness that the underlying realities of national security are changing in fundamental ways. It follows that national security policies — including classification policies and public engagement — need to adapt accordingly.
“Diplomacy today is very different than it was at the dawn of the nuclear age,” the State Department said. “More often diplomacy is happening in the open, and at quicker speeds.”
“The astonishing advancements in information and communication technologies include new tools and capabilities that could help support arms control transparency and compliance. This essay contest aims to encourage more public participation, discussion and thought on arms control,” the State Department said.
There is already an impressive history of public participation in arms control efforts, notably including the work of Thomas Cochran and the Natural Resources Defense Council in demonstrating seismic monitoring for verification of a low-threshold nuclear test ban.