The Toronto Emergency Management Symposium is an annual event where representatives from Canadian and American emergency services, emergency management agencies, private companies, and NGOs come together to discuss the latest issues in their field. The Sentinel Project’s executive director, Christopher Tuckwood, also studies disaster and emergency management (DEM) and attended the symposium today.

This topic might not immediately appear to be related to the Sentinel Project, and it is true that genocide prevention is an unconventional topic for the DEM field, but there are definitely connections. Risk and vulnerability assessment , as well as building community resilience, are all key aspects of DEM and have obvious applications to the early warning and prevention of genocide. Though genocide is a very different type of event from a natural disaster or industrial accident, some theoretical principles of DEM can be applied to our own multidisciplinary approach.

One important part of today was a session on how social media can be used to gather and disseminate information during emergencies and disasters. This is a topic of great interest to the Sentinel Project as we seek to understand the ways that new media are used to incite  hatred and organize violence as well as how we can use them to stop it. Another highlight of the day was a talk by Rahul Singh, the founder and executive director of GlobalMedic, an NGO that takes Canadian paramedics, police officers, and firefighters to disaster zones in order to build local capacity and empower people to help themselves. Once again, although the exact issue is very different from preventing genocide, working with groups targeted for genocide is a central principle of the Sentinel Project. Clearly, we have much to learn from other organizations and events like this are the best place to do so.