BUG4Good: Open Source for Human Rights

The results were announced and BUG4Good is in the Top Ten Finalists. [More here -> http://is.gd/pUER ]

Human Rights Watch and BUGLabs  will present the project at an international conference, "The Soul of the New Machine: Human Rights, Technology, and New Media," at UC Berkeley, May 4 and 5, 2009. 

Short ProjectDescription

Data collection and evidence gatheringserve a critical function for human rights activists, journalists andresearchers.  Given the oftenchallenging environments, those who work on the field or who witness violationsrequire a simple, safe, and reliable way for storing information (particularlyinformation that could at some point be evidence in a legal proceeding). Thisproject will provide a framework for data collection, analysis, anddistribution using mobile open source hardware, data processing andvisualization software, along with guidelines for fieldwork.

Detailed ProjectOverview

Over time, mobile technologies have beenof increasing utility for researchers working in the field.  While the range and size of devices hasimproved, there are still major hurdles to full, secure use by researchers,including confidentiality, data encryption, and security. We propose acustomized open source hardware device that will address these issues, and onethat can support media outreach by unleashing the potential of new web-basedtools and software.

BUG4Goodconsists of 3 components:

1)   Information guidelines: Provided by Human Rights Watch, thesemultimedia documents will provide ethical benchmarks for the management ofinformation, including acceptable evidence forlegal proceedings, and instances where ongoing documentation is needed.


2)   Data collection device: BUG4good is a handheld device designedto allow acquisition of information (pictures, sound, video, various sensor recordings,etc.), to store it securely on the device until it is ready to be offloaded,and then to transmit it via a secure wired or wireless network connection whenone becomes available.   Goals are:

  • To simplify the process of evidence-gathering including automated and timed data collection;
  • Provide security for researchers, journalists, and witnesses;
  • After piloting, other functionalities such as remote sensing, odor processing, and timed data erasing may be researched/enabled.

3)   Data management and visualization: Based on open source, thesecross-browser/cross-device tools will allow researchers to:

  • Provide fast imagery and multimedia for advocacy, media, and outreach work;
  • Build a database of multi-format data that can be crossed with public and private data sources for the detection of patterns, trends, and inconsistencies; and
  • Provide an ontology-ready setting for semantic-based knowledge discovery and research support.


Human Rights Watch is one of the world's leadingindependent organizations dedicated to defending and protecting human rights.By focusing international attention where human rights are violated, we givevoice to the oppressed and hold oppressors accountable for their crimes. Ourrigorous, objective investigations and strategic, targeted advocacy buildintense pressure for action and raise the cost of human rights abuse. For 30years, Human Rights Watch has worked tenaciously to lay the legal and moralgroundwork for deep-rooted change and has fought to bring greater justice andsecurity to people around the world.

Bug Labs is a new kind of Technology Company,enabling a new generation of engineers to tap their creativity and build anytype of device they want, without having to solder, learn solid-stateelectronics, or go to China. Bug Labs envisions a future where CE stands forCommunity Electronics, the term "mashups" applies equally to hardware as itdoes to Web services, and entrepreneurs can appeal to numerous markets byinventing "The Long Tail" of devices.

Qantati is an independent project that aims to offer a collectionof open source tools for civic groups and social organizations. It uses opensource software that promotes knowledge discovery by facilitating collaborative live data processing, complex event processing andcontinuous data analysis; and that simplify outreach and advocacy purposes byproviding data visualization.