Work Stream Four maps international non-governmental organisations’ current uses of big data and social media and develops new approaches to humanitarian and human rights work.
Access to social media has generated an unprecedented quantity of data that is of potential significance in the documentation and evidencing of human rights violations. Big data on conflict and State repression provides new ways to map, monitor and document human rights violations by combining and triangulating disparate sources of data, such as social media and image data, in ways that can corroborate and verify accounts of human rights abuse.
It can also strengthen the ability of humanitarian actors such as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the International Committee of the Red Cross to respond to conflict-driven or natural disasters. For example, social media, coupled with satellite imagery of the movement of displaced persons can assist the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other UN actors to establish secure and adequate refugee and internally displaced persons camps, to have the necessary facilities in place, and to meet the on-going needs of the displaced population, including the provision of health, food, education, and legal services. This crucial information can further be used to track displacement and consequently the geo-location of potential human rights violations in the aftermath of disasters.
Work Stream Four focuses on the following research questions:
- To what extent do big data and social media provide resources and new opportunities to increase the effectiveness of humanitarian and human rights organisations?
- How can big data and social media be used to map, monitor and document human rights violations and to respond proactively to humanitarian crises?
- What are the key challenges facing such organisations when seeking to use big data and social media in this way and can they be overcome?