Global Pulse is a UN initiative which seeks to develop a progressive approach to crisis impact monitoring, by harnessing real time information flows to better understand how populations are coping with global shocks. Global Pulse functions as an innovation laboratory within which to explore how the latest advances in data science and technology can complement our existing systems for crisis monitoring. Read more on their implementation strategy. They also run competitions like Visualise the Voices of the Vulnerable to use the information they're collecting to raise awareness.
From their site: "The recent waves of global shocks – food, fuel, and financial – have revealed a wide gap between the onset of a global crisis and the availability of actionable information for decision makers to protect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable populations. Traditional statistics have been effective in tracking medium- to longer- term development trends with little usefulness in generating the type of real-time information decision makers need in developing timely actions to help vulnerable populations cope with crises. Much of the data used to track progress toward the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), for example, dates back to 2008 or earlier – before the onset of the current economic crisis. The delay in data is often compounded by a knowledge gap: when household-level data does become available, it is generally only able to paint a partial picture of how populations have been coping with crisis-related stress factors. For example, information on changes and shifts within a country’s informal economy is often absent as it is outside the reach of traditional data collection systems.
Knowing in close to real time the “how, where and when” of a crisis is crucial for the design of effective policy responses. While this requirement may be obvious in the aftermath of a natural disaster, it is also increasingly evident in the context of slower-onset crises, such as the financial crisis. Finding out today how a community began coping with a crisis two years ago is generally too late to prevent longer-term damage. The price a country pays for not knowing how specific segments of its population are coping with shocks is high. Hard-won development gains are at risk as the resilience of families is eroded, causing households to lose ground in their struggle to escape poverty and driving many of those who had escaped back into destitution."
This approach could also apply to the context of uprisings and unlawful detention. In fact there's a wealth of examples of Global Pulse projects which could be used as Inspirations on our Amnesty Challenge: http://www.unglobalpulse.org/projects Feel free to dip in grab some of those and post them!
Meanwhile – might it be worthwhile considering a central place to coordinate expertise from a variety of sources and locations in an ongoing manner to provide accurate data on uprisings and unlawful detention? Often efforts around such crises are scattered, creating inefficiences in collecting and disseminating information. What else can we learn from the Global Pulse approach, projects and reports – especially relating to real-time information gathering and data visualisation?