collaborative information retrieval: the case of nigeria - ISKO
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COLLABORATIVE INFORMATION RETRIEVAL: THE CASE OF NIGERIA WATCH DATABASE
BY Philip Olayoku (Ph.D), Ukoji Vitus (M.A), James Okolie-Osemene (M.A)
INTRODUCTION Nigeria Watch is an online database that compiles violent deaths in Nigeria since 2006. The project began in Paris in June, 2006 and was brought back to Nigeria in July, 2013 after a group of 4 Nigerian researchers were hired. Nigeria Watch aims to monitor homicides and violent deaths (including accidents) as well as provide statistics for trend analysis of such deaths in Nigeria. With such statistics, decision makers are equipped with relevant information for policy formulation. However, these objectives have not been achieved without the collaboration with different stakeholders at difference phases of information retrieval.
The emergence of distributed data collection, communication and control channels in organizations has created a more suitable environment for collaboration. Organizations such as Nigeria Watch no longer work as isolated units in solving complex problems. Rather, they depend on collective information gathering, assimilation, and creation for solutions. This systemization of knowledge through proper information flow has kept professional organizations competitive and innovative. Acknowledging the potency of collaboration in solving complex problems, London (1995) saw collaboration as a synergy between two or more organizations, or other agents to produce a combined effect greater than the sum of their separate effects. To this effect, this paper discusses collaborative information retrieval within Nigeria Watch, their collaborative activities with the academia and other institutions that share similar goals.
COLLABORATIVE INFORMATION RETRIEVAL WITHIN NIGERIA WATCH Today's communication encompasses several aspects of collaborative information retrieval. Nigeria Watch has adequately systemized information gathering, assimilation, and creation by collaborating with specialist in information technology and the print media. Information Technology (IT) Specialists IT specialist applies technical expertise to the implementation, monitoring, or maintenance of IT systems. Opsomai Media provides Nigeria Watch with a unified data management system and manages its database in accordance with the rules in force in the company. By installing the server in the work station, the company ensures that data are stored, secured and processed for further complex queries.
Opsomai Server in Nigeria Watch Station
The Print Media Nigeria Watch sources its data from ten Nigerian daily newspapers including Vanguard, Punch, Nigerian Tribune, The Nation, Daily Trust, Daily Sun, Daily Independent, Thisday, Leadership and The Guardian. Data on reported cases of violent deaths across the country are extracted and fed into the database on daily basis. The collaboration with the print media hinge on the fact that Nigeria has one of the most consistent and advanced media in Africa.
Nigerian Daily Newspapers
TYPES OF COLLABORATIVE ACTIVITIES IN NIGERIA WATCH Activities within Nigeria Watch are categorized into document- related and humanrelated collaborative activities. 1. Document-related Collaborative Activities Collaborative information retrieval activities in Nigeria Watch involve sharing information on published patent applications, working notes and smart boards. Two types of document-related collaborative activities identified in Nigeria Watch include: (A) Paper-based collaborative activities which involve information sharing using stickers, catalogues, comment books, instructional papers and rules of engagement). (B) Electronic-based activities involving the use Drop box, Team viewer, Skype and Yahoo messenger to share information.
Human-related Collaborative Activities
Such activities focus on establishing effective communication channels and exchange of ideas among team members. The members share opinions and ideas on complex issues. This exchange of ideas enrich data and facilitate the treatment of violent incidents. Furthermore, the sitting arrangement makes it easier for the team members to discuss events and get first hand information on the exact locations of occurrence as well as the protagonists. Desk arrangement for Team Members in Nigeria Watch
NIGERIAN WATCH ACADEMIC PROJECTS •
The Nigerian Watch Project through partnership with IFRA-Nigeria engages scholars in the Humanities and social sciences through projects designed to fit into the database on violent deaths
The current Project has about 24 scholars working on various topics which are broadly categorized under the Visible and Invisible Violence categories. Topics covered include Land Pressure, Maritime Piracy, Witchcraft and Cult Societies, Rural Violence, Political Violence and Electoral Processes
CREATION OF SCHOLARS’ NETWORK •
The Nigerian Watch, through its data base, is directed towards attracting scholars to work on individual and collaborative projects; especially as it pertains to the contributions on examining and managing violence in the society.
The Partnership with IFRA-Nigeria also involves engaging with the IFRA-Nigeria research Fellows which has a broad network of academics and graduate students within and outside Nigeria.
The Project also embarks on the training of users, and monitoring the use of the database in order to help the maximisation of its utilization by scholars.
DATA POOL FOR SCHOLARS
PUBLICATIONS FROM NIGERIA WATCH DATABASE IFRA-Nigeria academic article on victims and targets of the Boko Haram crisis “Body Count and Religion in the Boko Haram crisis: Evidence from the Nigeria Watch database” Chouin G., Reinert, M., Apard-Malah, E., in Pérouse de Monclos, M.-A., Boko Haram: Islamism, Politics, Security and the State in Nigeria, Ibadan, Leiden: IFRA-Nigeria, ASC, West African Politics and Society (WAPOSO) Series
INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK FOR COLLABORATIVE INFORMATION RETRIEVAL IN NIGERIA WATCH
The relevance of data on violent deaths is required for effective conflict mapping in most parts of Nigeria and that is why Nigeria Watch exists as a project backed by the Nigeria Security and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP), supported by Institute of French Research in Africa (IFRANigeria) and collaborate with other stakeholders in peacebuilding and conflict mapping.
Nigeria Watch and IFRA-Nigeria IFRA-Nigeria is a non-for-profit Institute set up to promote research in the social sciences and the humanities, as well as enhance collaborative work between scholars in France and West Africa. The partnership between Nigeria Watch and IFRA manifests in different ways including logistics, research collaboration, scientific contributions and supervision. Nigeria Watch is housed by IFRA-Nigeria in 9 Parry road, an IFRA annex. The accommodation made it possible for the installation of IT facilities in the work station. With the appointment of an IFRA staff as the Project Scientific Director, work in Nigeria Watch has been accorded adequate attention.
The Nigeria Stability And Reconciliation Programme (NSRP) and Nigeria Watch Database. The Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP), funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and implemented by the British Council aims to reduce violent conflict in Nigeria. Nigeria Watch is funded by NSRP. As the sponsor, NSRP has full access to the database. The database is often utilized by NSRP during trainings and workshops. Civil societies and state security agencies collaborate with NSRP to analyze conflict dynamics. Through these collaborative exercises, inputs from different perspectives and understand on conflict issues have been effectively utilized for conflict analysis.
Peace and Security Working Group (PSWG) Peace and Security Working Group was established to enhance the effectiveness and coordination of interventions that are designed to reduce conflict, or to prevent the start or resumption of violent conflict in Nigeria. Members include Fund for Peace, Mercy Corps, NSRP, IFRA/Nigeria Watch, Fund for Peace/Partners for Peace in the Niger Delta, Search for Common Ground, CITAD, SDN, USAID, Working Group on Armed Violence and others not listed. Information retrieval and sharing remains cardinal to the enhancement and coordination of the groups’ peacebuilding. Nigeria Watch, NSRP and other members of the PSWG conduct regional analyses and also issue reports on violence at community, local government, state levels with emphasis on the trends and patterns of violent deaths. Updates, reports on violent deaths and publications are shared among members of the group through Dropbox. Every member of the group has a dropbox account for easy access to and circulation of information (see www.nigeriawatch.org/media/html/NigeriaWatch-Newsletter01.pdf).
INNOVATIVE STRATEGIES Every research requires innovation and this makes Nigeria Watch Project timely to fill the gap that exists in violence research. This is considering the innovative strategies of Nigeria Watch, NSRP and other members of the peace and security working group in advancing knowledge on the trends of violent deaths through information retrieval. For example, with the database, organizations like the NST and WANEP would be able to identify hotspots that require peacebuilding intervention. Nigeria Watch is in line with several innovative developments. The mapping of violent deaths is carried out through different approaches which include mapping of the relative number of deaths, the absolute number of deaths, and the protagonists among others. Understanding who the protagonists also enables the members of this group to identify areas of need and ways of utilizing the data.
PROSPECTS OF COLLABORATIVE INFORMAT-ION RETRIEVAL BETWEEN NIGERIA WATCH AND OTHER INSTITUTIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
The collaborative engagement would be relevant in enhancing the knowledge of people on the trends of violent deaths in Nigeria, and create a platform for policymakers to respond to the need for developing violent death abatement measures across the country. Through the supportive role of IFRA–Nigeria, and NSRP, other think tanks would be able to acquire knowledge of using Nigeria Watch database to facilitate the production of monthly and weekly conflict bulletins in their various organizations. The database if given the necessary attention by research institutes would shape the nature of public policy intervention, especially that which requires coordinated efforts to prevent the upsurge of violent conflicts in Nigeria.
The PSWG and all think tanks involved in violence research would be able to develop and utilize more tools of information sharing, taking more advantage of social media.
The collaboration between IFRA-Nigeria, NW, NSRP, and PSWG collaboration would definitely address the gap on poor institutionalized academic research on violence capable of creating a road map for conflict transformation and violence prevention. If not this timely collaboration it would have been farfetched for Nigerians to get snapshots of the trends and patterns of conflict risk factors at the State and Local Government Area (LGA) levels in the country. We conclude that NW, NSRP and PSWG initiative is timely because it has the capacity to advance collaborative/comparative research on violent conflicts in Nigeria.
London, S. (1995). Collaboration and Community. Retrieved from http://scottlondon.com/reports/ppcc.htm