State Department holds Google Hangout, talks arms control, announces winners of innovation challenge

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Acting Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller, at the State Department held her first Google Hangout today to announce the winners of the Innovation in Arms Control Challenge. The challenge was launched in August of last year, and State announced one winner and two runners up today during the hangout. The goal of the challenge was to find new ways to use technology and crowd support for innovation in the areas of implementation of arms control, verification, and nonproliferation treaties and agreements.

The winner of the challenge and a $5000 prize was Bombshelltoe, an online education platform that examines the intersection of culture and nuclear issues in order to facilitate better public understanding of basic nuclear and arms control-related issues. The platform was developed by Lovely Umayam, a graduate student from the Monterey Institute of International Studies at Middlebury College, located in Monterey, California. Mrs. Umayam joined the hangout from Beijing and said that she drew her inspiration from the platform from other media including Radiolab and Wired Magazine.

Runner-up was given to Allan Childers, an aerospace/defense industry consultant from Florida, who developed what he calls a “Where’s Waldo,” mobile application that provides a platform for users to connect and interact, as well as a rewards program for sharing information on various arms agreement regimes. He will get a $2500 prize for his efforts and says that the application is focused on real information sharing rather than “creating a social network of pseudo spies.”

Runner-up was also given to Dr. Rudolph “Chip” Mappus, a research scientist at Georgia Tech Research Institute, who developed a geographically based online social game for verifying treaty compliance. He said the game builds on the geocaching fad popular throughout the country. Experts post detailed tasks online, and citizens complete tasks for rewards using photographic and human report data using smartphones and/or consumer grade hardware.

Here is a replay of the hangout: