Digital Verification: Sharing Experiences and Know-How With the United Nations

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) has been focusing on ICT applications to support human rights work for some time. Over the past years, the office undertook a number of initiatives and activities in partnership with experts and relevant organizations in this area. Throughout, it became obvious that there is a clear need for human rights investigators to be equipped with special digital tools: Tools that allow for the collection, storing, analysis, tagging and browsing of digital images in order to detect and document human rights violations.

This resulted in the development of two prototypes for image analysis in 2016. Over the period that followed, the two prototypes were developed further, and additional market research was carried out. The latter showed that there are related activities and projects underway. Furthermore, it became evident that a number of issues and questions still haven't been addressed satisfactorily when it comes to image analysis and its use in the OHCHR context.

In order to advance both the existing challenges as well as the development of the tools referred to above, OHCHR is organizing an expert meeting that brings together UN staff, academics, practitioners, representatives of civil society and industry in order to share experiences and know-how in the field. The UN would especially like to hear from individuals and groups who are involved in the development of complementary and/or similar tools and are using such tools for human rights investigations. Hence an expert meeting in Geneva on 6 and 7 December 2017 has been initiated.

We are there to contribute the experiences and know-how gained in the course of our research projects REVEAL (a project that ran from 2013 to 2016 and, among others, dealt with algorithm-supported image verification) and InVID (focus on video verification, running from 2016 until 2018). Furthermore, we will showcase and demo our tool for collaborative verification: Truly Media. It was developed in cooperation with ATC, commercially launched in November 2017 and is ideal for investigating and documenting human rights abuses. Amnesty International recently became Truly Media's first regular customer. That is why we will also do a session together with Amnesty's Digital Verification Corps (DVC) in which the DVC will outline first experiences and benefits of working with Truly Media.

Jochen Spangenberg will represent our team at the event. You can contact him via Twitter or email in case you have questions. Please keep in mind you need to be on the OHCHR's guest list to catch up with Jochen on location in Geneva as the meeting is by invitation only.

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