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Top U.S. arms control official to talk tech and global security at SXSW

Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller will talk with CNET's Daniel Terdiman about how the public can use new technologies help combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Acting U.S. Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller. State Department

The United States' top arms control official thinks the public can play a vital role in helping to combat international arms control violations and threats.

At South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas, this Friday, Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller will take part in a session, to be moderated by CNET reporter Daniel Terdiman, in which she will talk about the U.S. State Department's plans to develop initiatives that utilize technology and public participation in tackling some of the thorniest security problems the United States and its allies face today.

During the Friday session, titled Mobilizing Ingenuity to Strengthen Global Security, Gottemoeller will discuss the State Department's contention that the big issues facing the country and others require big ideas as solutions. "Protecting the globe from weapons of mass destruction is no easy task, and a strong work force within the U.S. government is dedicated to finding ways to reduce the risks posed by" WMDs," SXSW wrote in a blog post announcing the session. "The U.S. Department of State wants to hear your innovative ideas on ways to protect the globe now and for future generations."

Earlier this week, Gottemoeller unveiled the three winners of the State Department's first Innovation in Arms Control Challenge. During a public Google Hangout -- also moderated by CNET's Terdiman -- Gottemoeller introduced three researchers and their proposals that were designed to take on the tasks set forth in the challenge:

[Collecting] new ideas about how innovation and technological advancement can affect the implementation of arms control, verification, and nonproliferation treaties and agreements. Can innovation bring about creative ways to prevent "loose nukes" from falling into the hands of terrorists? Can smartphone and tablet apps be created for the purpose of aiding on-site inspectors in verifying and monitoring treaty commitments? How can we use commonly available technologies in new and creative ways to support our arms control policy efforts?

During that discussion (see video below), Gottemoeller said that she was pleased by the results of the initial competition, and that the State Department plans on running a second Innovation Challenge at some point in the spring.

At SXSW, Gottemoeller is expected to expand on her theory that "societal verification" is one of the most useful tools governments can employ in fighting bad actors that would try to sneak nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction into the U.S. or allied countries. She will "talk about open-source information and communication technologies for arms control verification and compliance monitoring, as well as recent open prize challenges," the official session description reads. "This will be an opportunity to discuss and offer innovative ideas on how to reduce the risks posed by weapons of mass destruction."