June 30, 2010

A mobile platform for human rights

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Handheld human rights from JD Lasica on Vimeo.

Co-director of Digital Democracy spells out how new platform can skirt government censorship

JD LasicaOne of the organizations I’ve been admiring from afar over the past year is Digital Democracy, which works with local partners to put information into the hands of people who need it most – those neglected, disenfranchised or abused by their rulers. The group employs education, communication and participation to empower citizens to build and shape their own communities.

Myanmar crisis mapIn this interview conducted last year, co-director Emily Jacobi (@emjacobi on Twitter) discusses Handheld Human Rights, a platform, project and website that makes human rights data accessible and actionable. Designed in concert with Burmese human rights organizations, Handheld Human Rights enables people there to communicate securely within their networks and to map crisis hotspots so that the international community can see the human rights violations taking place inside Myanmar.

The tool enables human rights workers to collect eyewitness accounts of killings, forced labor, rape as a tool of war and other brutalities and relay them to the outside world by skirting media censorship from Myanmar’s autocratic military junta. And it is slowly being adopted in other troubled places, like Thailand.

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It’s a wonderful example of how activists can use media and data to drive home a powerful message. Contact Digital Democracy directly if you’d like to use Handheld Human Rights.

Emily, who heads up Digital Democracy’s education efforts, traveled to Haiti in April to look into how technology can be leveraged to protect women and girls from gender-based violence. The organization also recently launched Ethiopia Vote Report with a local partner in Ethiopia.

Quite a string of accomplishments for a modest-sized organization. JD Lasica, founder and former editor of Socialbrite, is co-founder of Cruiseable. Contact JD or follow him on Twitter or Google Plus.

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