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"Rolling" away from unlawful detention

Lengthy reports, interviews, and surveys are often ineffective and inefficient in reporting and monitoring cases of unlawful detention. By using code wheels (see picture), friends / family members can slide the wheel's moving parts in order to create an accurate description of when/how their loved-one was detained, and then text the corresponding code to an sms-database. The codes can then be analyzed for trends and patterns to help Amnesty International better understand risk factors, center their prevention efforts around those most at risk, or work to discover the best way to help those who have been detained and their families.

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Root Change has started a similar project in Namibia to monitor and report cases of child labor near the Angolan border. A colleague of mine working for Root Change piloted the use or monitoring wheels with Root Change this past summer.  

In this case, Amnesty could distribute the cardboard wheels along with instructions of how to use them or lead workshops on the importance of reporting, how to operate the wheel, how to send in the text code, the importance of the data, etc.  

What kind of resources are needed to get this idea off the ground and/or support it over time?

Distribution network of wheels, workshop leaders, data-base administrators and analysts, support staff, time to perform a primary study, time to generate database, minimal investment!

My Virtual Team

Lots of great concepts out there - working from a developing country myself so unfortunately cannot browse back and forth quickly. Was inspired by all!

How could this idea also be adapted to work in low-tech situations?

This idea is perfect for low tech areas, as the wheel itself is extremely basic and the "code" can be texted from any phone with sms capabilities!


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I love the low- tech nature of this idea, as well as how it compacts a lot of important information for clarity. My only question is how much does it rely on the users to be able to text thier information to the database? is there any other way this data could be collected and recorded? Relying on cell phone technology can get risky and honestly, it can be limiting as well. However, the idea is developed well enough that I am sure that there are plenty of other options to be thought of!
Kathryn, Wells College Innovation Lab

Photo of Paul Reader

I'm only just beginning to look at the mechanics of the concept so I'm speculating a bit but it occurs to me that a photographic record of wheel settings would allow collecting and collating results quickly and put the wheels back into the field almost immediately. The photos could be included in the database and provide for further analysis at any time.

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