Working Group on Low Tech Environments

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Classifying Variables of Low Tech Environments

We worked to better understand the variables and dynamics of what makes up a low tech environment so that we can better understand how to unpack responsible engagement and ownership with communities in human rights documentation.

Discussion Outline

We envision this discussion leading to a set of guidelines, or a checklist, of questions for people to consider before they introduce new technology to a low technology environment. These people could be funders, technology developers, intermediaries, or others. This is not a checklist in the sense that checking off boxes will ensure a completely successful project. Instead, by reviewing these items, fully groundtruthing their relevancy with allies in the local community, and seeking additional advice from partners where needed, a technology project will reduce its risk of being counterproductive.

A more complete checklist would include at least the following sections.

  • Defining what the project aims to accomplish
  • Defining the various kinds of low tech environments
  • Documenting things that technology can make easier or more difficult
  • Symptoms or patterns where technology might help
  • User personas in low tech human rights documentation
  • Symptoms of having introduced too much technology

Defining low tech environments

Having "low" access to technology of technological literacy can be a result of the user community, the infrastructure, or both.

User Variables

  • Literacy
  • Language
  • Tech capacity
  • Accessibility and availability of the tech
  • Population density
  • Inequities (gender, race, class, etc)
  • Opportunity to engage (time, freedom, awareness)

Infrastructure Variables

  • No internet (bandwidth)
  • Cell network coverage
  • Physical infrastructure (roads, cars, trains)
  • Freedom of expression legally enabling environment
  • Bandwidth
  • Hardware
  • Degree of electrification

Dynamics that get harder and easier depending on degree of techification of project

  • Security
  • Trust
  • Verification of data
  • Equity of access
  • Safety/consequence
  • Informed consent
  • Follow-up (growing the community by continuing to engage with them)

User Personas

User Personas

Category A: Victim; Witness; Survivors of the Violations.

Category B: Perpetrators; Government (as a System).

Category C: Frontline Service Providers/Government Workers; First Responders to Human Rights Violations; Community Translators.

Category D: Investigators; Investigative Journalists; Advocacy Organizations as Fact-Finders.

Category E: Journalists (as Reporters); Professional Translators; Advocates/Advocacy Organizations; Data Encoders; Data Analysts; Data Verifiers.

Next steps

The group will update the Wiki Page and continue discussion over a shared document, with the end goal of creating a guide for practitioners and funders on the considerations to be made when planning to add technology to a project.


Sonny Resuena
Ivanka Custodio
Francesca Feruglio
Surya Gopalan
Sucharita Varanasi
Ruth Miller