DatNav: New Guide to Navigate and Integrate Digital Data in Human Rights Research

Zara Rahman

Launching DatNav: a guide designed to help you navigate and integrate digital data into your human rights research.

DatNav is the result of a collaboration between Amnesty International, Benetech, and The Engine Room which began in late 2015 culminating in an intense four day writing sprint facilitated by Chris Michael and Collaborations for Change in May 2016, 


(High Res PDF – 9 Mb / Low Res PDF . – 3.8 Mb)

Read the Spanish version / Leer en español

(Alta Res PDF – 9 Mb / Bajo Res PDF – 3.8 Mb)

تنزيل النسخة العربية من هنا

( نسخة عالية الجودة / نسخة منخفضة الجودة )

Our research included interviews, community consultations, and surveys to understand whether human rights defenders were integrating digital data into their work. In the vast majority of cases, we found that they weren’t. Why? Mainly, human rights researchers appeared to be overwhelmed by the possibilities. 

In the face of limited resources, and the overwhelming possibilities, most human rights researchers were reluctant to try.

We believe that integrating and using digital data in a responsible way can make a huge and important difference to human rights research. Acquiring, disseminating and storing digital data is also more in reach. DatNav is about navigating these new possibilities.

In May 2016, we gathered a group of experts to create a guide to help address this problem, and we created the foundations of DatNav.  

Nearly 70 key members of the human rights tech and data community, representing nearly 40 different organisations from around the world, played key roles in the creation of DatNav.

We called again upon the community to review the content of the sprint, and we were grateful for fantastic input and help in refining the outputs. 

This is just the beginning

If you’re interested in taking the guide forward, whether to inform strategy in your work, to train others, or through translations, or adaptations of the content, we’d love to hear from you. The content is all CC-BY-SA licensed and remixes of the content are more than welcome. We’ve released an Arabic translation of DatNav and we’d like to carry out others too.

We’re compiling an ongoing list of additional resources here for learning more about specific sections of DatNav, and you’re welcome to submit. 

You can sign up for The Engine Room’s newsletter to be notified of new updates and releases.

Download a lower quality version of the guide in English here or Spanish here (3.8 MB).

Thanks to Hivos for funding the Spanish translation of DatNav, and Meehan for the Arabic translation.

To find out more about the project or give feedback, you can send me an email. You can also reach out to me on Twitter @zararah and The Engine Room @EngnRoom.