Abubakar Shekau, the purported leader of Boko Haram, ignited international outrage when he announced that he would sell more than 200 of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls “in the market.” Nations around the globe offered help to Nigeria.
Getting back the more than 200 Nigerian girls who were kidnapped from school a month ago will require a deep understanding of the environment the extremist group that took them operates in.
Thanks to some new tools, and the spread of some older technologies, crucial data can be gleaned to show where the kidnappers, Boko Haram, may be holed up. Everything from cell phone usage to weapons acoustics to satellite imagery can help build a more complete picture of the group and its activities. Possibly even a map.
Africa is often mistakenly seen as a “data desert.” But exponential growth in telecommunications coverage, mobile phone and Internet usage is increasingly revealing a continent rich in data and information.
Boko Haram’s shadowy structure presents a unique threat to stability throughout the region. Untangling the group — let alone freeing the girls — poses significant challenges to international assistance efforts and local enforcement groups seeking to extend their authority over sparsely settled lands.