Personalizing the CTBT: Geographic Sensing from Your Pocket

brenna“How can we personalize the CTBT in a way that engages people in their daily lives?” Diana Ballestas de Dietrich posed the question to CTBT Youth Group (CYG) members during an opening session of the 2017 SnT Conference.


In today’s world global crises unfold daily across our newsfeeds. Many of these crises are extremely visceral: photos of refugee camps, videos documenting racism, etc. It doesn’t seem obvious that a nuclear treaty would create equally compelling visuals. And aside from imagery, the CTBT faces the challenge of accessibility: without a job within the organization, how can ordinary citizens involve themselves?


Ms. Ballestas de Dietrich provided some ideas. Although environmental degradation is a daunting issue, citizens can personally contribute by taking small steps, like using less water while brushing their teeth. What are similar steps civilians can take for the CTBT?


One opportunity for personalization emerged from the panel “Mobile Phones as Geographic Sensors.” The audience in the meeting room downloaded a mobile app to build a monitoring network within the room. Through cell phone technology that detects seismic activity, ordinary people can contribute to regional monitoring simply by downloading an app. This platform is accessible to young people and allows for direct involvement.


Although the panel acknowledged technical challenges facing a citizen seismology network, the symbolic p
ower of contributing to the CTBT through a device in your pocket is powerful. It creates ownership: this is our world, our Treaty, and all of us can do our part to fight for it.

CTBTO Youth Group member Brenna Gautam,

Vienna, 27 June 2017