January 2018

An Introduction to Data Visualization for Human Rights

Toolkit Now Available

Using data visualization can improve the effectiveness of human rights work that involves data. In particular, combining data and visuals in the promotion of human rights enables advocates to harness the power of both statistics and narrative. Visualizing data can facilitate audiences' understanding of abuses and motivate people to take action. When used as a tool in human rights research, it can help investigators identify patterns and see the connections among individual rights violations.

To introduce researchers to topics and principles of data visualization for human rights, we developed a toolkit that can be used on its own or as a data visualization workshop activity. The kit contains 6 chapters that take practitioners step by step through the following:

Each chapter is set out succinctly as a bite-sized summary of a larger data visualization topic. It is our hope that the kit will speak to students as well as human rights experts, and that it rewards both casual browsing and careful review. The chapters can stand alone or be used as a sequence of steps in a workshop aimed at preparing rights practitioners for informed and strategic use of data visualization.

The kit is available online at visualizingrights.org/kit and can also be downloaded as a series of PDF booklets.

Our project is the result of a research collaboration between the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice and the Tandon School of Engineering at New York University, and was funded with a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. These data visualization guidelines were authored by John Emerson and Margaret Satterthwaite with help from contributors Brianne Cuffe, Sidra Mahfooz, and Deirdre Dlugoleski, and input from Enrico Bertini, Oded Nov, and NGO colleagues and participants in the Responsible Data Forum.

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