Digital Democracy works in solidarity with marginalized communities to use technology to defend their rights.

Digital Democracy has two main programs: direct technical support for local communities & collaborative technology development to meet local needs. Over the past 12 years, we have worked with human and environmental rights defenders who want to collect evidence about human rights abuses, including photos, testimonies and geolocations. They want to see the data on a map, share it internally, and create a printed report or publish edited data online. Existing tools don’t meet these needs because:

  • they rely on internet access (which is unreliable, restricted by governments or non-existent in many locations)
  • they require high technical skills or training
  • it’s hard for a group to collaborate on the same dataset
  • or they require setup and maintenance of a server or database. 

To fill this gap, we built Mapeo as an open source toolkit designed in partnership with Indigenous communities for collaborative documentation of human rights abuses, with photos linked to geographic information and cryptographic proofs. Mapeo is resilient during censorship, blackout, and with limited or no connectivity, as data can be shared offline between devices. The local-first database does not require any setup and is embedded in the mobile and desktop apps.

The improvements to Mapeo from this project will make Mapeo available to a wide group of users around the world, providing them with an easy way to collect, manage and report data about human rights abuses without depending on internet access that may be blocked or monitored. The ability of local groups to collaborate to collect evidence of human rights abuses combining photos, maps and key data will strengthen advocacy efforts at a national and international level.