Data Collection Through Drones

Client: Digital Democracy builds offline data collection tools for indigenous groups documenting human rights abuses in the Amazon. A big part of their work involves flying small commercial drones to photograph mines, oil spills, and forest incursions, and building simple analysis tools to show changes over time.

Project: DigiDem has been a small team since 2008, but in 2016 decided to scale their staff and volunteer technical teams. They brought BlinkTag’s Ruth Miller on board as a product management consultant to lead the way. Ruth traveled with the DigiDem team into Peru and Guyana, met monitors that have been using these tools successfully for several years, and learned about the intricacies of mapping and documentation through drones. She focused on identifying challenges in fully offline environments, from navigation to data processing, as well as the logistical access hurdles. She then delivered a staffing and events plan to build the next round of tools to support these monitoring efforts.

Links: In addition to her publications with Digital Democracy, Ruth contributed to the 2016 Primer on Technology for Forest Peoples’ Rights report, sponsored by Rainforest Foundation Norway and The Engine Room. She has also presented her findings at the MIT Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media.