Human Rights Data Initiative

The Human Rights Data Initiative (HRDI) is a collaboration between Open Society Foundation's Information Program and the Human Rights and Governance Grants Program that focuses on human rights organizations and their use of data. The initiative was founded in 2009 to help human rights organizations improve their capacity to make the data they collect searchable and reusable, and to capture data in such a way that it can be cross–referenced, integrated with new analytical tools, and disseminated through a host of new distribution platforms.

Purpose and Priorities
HRDI works with partners in the human rights and governance and transparency fields to understand the needs and impact of managed and networked data. The initiative looks at projects that deal with information infrastructure, data reuse, and the entry of human rights information into new advocacy realms.

HRDI is currently conducting research on topics that cut across the fields of human rights and transparency/accountability, where new uses of data can be a game–changer. HRDI has chosen to begin this initiative on the theme of eminent domain and other methods of state expropriation of property and housing through evictions and housing allocation decisions. As this is an area where human rights intersect with an issue of intense civic interest, the project will investigate how these expropriations affect a range of rights, and explore ways in which civil society organizations can use data to challenge government abuses of eminent domain.

As HRDI aims to support the development of global expertise in this field, “game–changing data” will be a defining longer–term theme for HRDI. As the project unfolds, we expect not only to learn more about the abuse of eminent domain and urban planning, but also to learn:
  • what kind of data it takes to reach a new audience with human rights advocacy
  • what data can create new momentum in an existing field
  • when data design for advocacy has an impact, and when it is merely cosmetic
The Human Rights Data Initiative will always consider applications from new partners whose purpose and priorities (see above) match our own. If you are considering applying for funding under this initiative, please send a one page concept paper to The paper should include the following information:
  • A brief description of the project goals and planned activities.
  • Information about the applicant organization and project partners.
  • An idea of how much your project will cost.
HRDI has a full program of work for 2013. We are always open to applications for projects from new partners whose purpose and priorities match our own, however we cannot guarantee to fund your project. We endeavor to respond to  applications for funds which meet the criteria specified within two months.

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