Data as a Weapon: The Use of Information in the War in Ukraine
The war in Ukraine has been going on for over a year, with both sides fiercly fighting for control. While traditional military forces undoubtedly play an crucial role in this, there is another weapon that is palying an increasingly important role in this conflict: data. In today’s digital age, information is power, and both sides are leveraging every bit of data they can get their hands on to gain an advantage. From social media analytics to satellite imagery, the amount of information available is staggering. But what is the role of data in the war in Ukraine, and how is it shaping the conflict? In this blog post, we'll explore the fascinating world of data in warfare and shed light on how it is being used in the ongoing struggle in Ukraine. So grab your gear and let's delve into the world of data-driven conflict.
War in Ukraine - An Overview
In 2014 the war in Ukraine began, when pro-Russian separatists seized control of Crimea and subsequently annexed it. The conflict then spread to other regions in eastern Ukraine, where separatist groups took up arms against Ukrainian forces. Since then there have been ongoing fights, with multiple ceasefires being negotiated and violated.
On the 24th of February 2022, Russia started invading Ukrainian territory once more. Over the course of the past months the Russian military has made advances in the south, and are gaining in the area of Kherson, a port city on the Black Sea whose control is reportedly contested, and Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov. Russian bombardment of these cities has resulted in humanitarian issues, with bridges and roads damaged by the fighting and dwindling access to food, clean water, medicine, and electricity in certain areas. Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, experienced heavy attacks and strikes have heavily damaged residential areas.
As the War Is Evolving, So Is the Use of Data
Before the start of the invasion we were seeing satellite imagery of Russian tanks and armed units being spread widely across social media. Whilst Putin was denying an attack on Ukraine the world was able to see the truth. The use of data on Google Maps showed a mass amount of traffic on the roads from Russia to Ukraine made up from Russian rmed vehicles, all signposting Russia’s next move in this war.
Data is being used in this war for various purposes, some of which are more obvious than others. First of all, they are using data for more mundane tasks like logistics and supply chains. Despite seeming not as important these are essential for a country at war, struggling with an economic crisis on top of that.
Further, the Ukrainian government is using data to understand how Russia’s military operates and what kind of weapons they use, in order to create a stronger defence. On top of that, they collect data from phone calls, social media, and other sources to figure out the Russian military’s movements.
Aside from that, data can be used to track the number of troops, weapons, and military equipment deployed in Ukraine by Russia. Using data can also help predicting the next move in this war because it provides a detailed analysis of what is happening on the ground.
This is a very interesting use of data in a war situation. If it wasn’t apparent already, the latest leak of US documents has shown what importance collecting data on your friends and foes has for goverments, and how it can be applied strategically in politics and war tactics. It's not just about collecting information but also about predicting the future based on that information.
data as leverage - what needs to happen next
The USA’s collection of big tech firms need to come together to sanction Russia and supply allies of Ukraine with data that will pre-empt Putins next moves. Only that way we will be able to save thousands of lives and millions of casualties.
Getting Data Faster
This all starts from the get-go by getting our hands on more data faster, through platforms that help supply companies with data . Our UK based startup Trovalo ( https://www.trovalo.io/ ) has a track record of helping connect goverments with data that is used for national security purposes. It’s likely that we will grow to become one of the few industry leaders in this vertical, with expansions to open in Europe later this year. Startups like ours that help goverments make decisions faster and more accurately, leading to more lives saved in the long run.