Posted 24 March, 2016 by Tom Walker

Human Rights Documentation research diary #3

During this project, we’ve come across various organisations, individuals and institutions doing research on how human rights organisations use new types of data in their work, as well as the challenges that accompany this. We’ve collected some information about a few of them below:

Human Rights in the Digital Age

Cambridge University’s Centre for Governance and Human Rights is conducting research and activities into the way in which digital technologies are affecting human rights work, under the theme of ‘Human Rights in the Digital Age’. There’s a particular interest in social media’s role, as well as practitioner paper series that is inviting submissions in 2016. The first paper has already been published: Christoph Koettl’s Citizen Media Research and Verification: An Analytical Framework for Human Rights Practitioners, which is designed to help experienced and new human rights researchers assess open source content.

Human Rights Methodology Lab

The Human Rights Methodology Lab brings small groups of experts from different disciplines together with people working on human rights projects during their early stages of development,  to develop methods and propose concrete improvements in advocacy-oriented human rights research. It’s working on two projects in 2016, and is keen to encourage do more in the future. Brian Root recently spoke about the Lab on our last community call: notes are here.

AAAS Geospatial Technologies Project

The American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Geospatial Technologies Project is working on several research projects that aim to strengthen the scientific foundation of human rights-based geospatial analysis, including remote sensing, geographic information systems (GIS), global positioning systems (GPS), and volunteered geographic information (VGI). To do this, they’re focusing on enhancing toolkits that practitioners can use in their work.

Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project

The recently-launched Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project (housed at the University of Essex’s Human Rights Centre) is researching the challenges that using technology and big data bring when they are introduced into human rights work. Among other things, it’s looking to develop good practice guidelines on technology, big data and human rights – we’re looking forward to seeing what comes out of the project.

Human Rights Technology Consortium

The Human Rights Technology Consortium, formed in March 2014, focuses on making connections and encouraging collaboration and coordination between activists, academics, funders, and advocates working on human rights technology. It has a range of aims, including helping to define a theoretical framing for the study of human rights and technology and furthering understanding of the ethical dimensions of how ICTs and advanced data analysis techniques are used in human rights projects. The project’s site collects resources and useful articles, categorising them by theme.

Mobil-Eyes Us

WITNESS’s Sam Gregory maintains a research Tumblr on projects using live video for human rights goals, as well as ways to act on that information. It forms part of WITNESS’s Mobil-Eyes Us project, which is looking at ways to bring together live video streaming, task-routing for under-utilized capacity within distributed networks of people and opportunity match-making on mobile phones.

This is just a selection of projects we’ve come across – what are your favourites? Let us know – or come talk about it on our next community call on 6 April, details coming soon!

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