May 18, 2022

Reference Tools: DataNav, a New Guide to “Navigating Digital Data Within the Human Rights Field” Now Available Online (Free)

Ed. Note: Benetech is also the organization behind BookShare, a program that provides an online library of books for those with print disabilities. 

From Today’s Launch Announcement:

2016-08-24_14-19-43Benetech, a Silicon Valley nonprofit whose mission is to empower communities in need by creating scalable technology solutions, is excited to announce the release of DatNav, a ground-breaking new guide on navigating digital data within the human rights field.

Work on this project, in collaboration with Amnesty International, The Engine Room, and many other notable organizations, began in late 2015 and culminated in an innovative and comprehensive community-generated resource.


The project research included interviews, community consultations, and surveys to understand whether digital data was being integrated into human rights work. In the vast majority of cases, the research team found that it wasn’t. Why not?


From online videos of rights violations and satellite images of environmental degradation, to eyewitness accounts disseminated on social media, human rights professionals have access to more relevant data today than ever before. When used responsibly, this data can help human rights professionals in the courtroom, when working with governments and journalists, and in documenting historical records.

Acquiring, disseminating, and storing digital data is also becoming increasingly affordable. As costs continue to decrease and new platforms are developed, opportunities for harnessing these data sources for human rights work increase. But integrating data collection and management into the day-to-day work of human rights research and documentation can be challenging, even overwhelming, for individuals and organizations.


That’s where DatNav comes in. The comprehensive guide is designed to help human rights defenders and journalists navigate and integrate digital data into their human rights work. In particular, it aims to:

  • Boost traditional human rights documentation by explaining how to incorporate digital data.
  • Build knowledge and expertise in advance of the next emergency.
  • Explain the opportunities, limits, and risks of digital data.
  • Eliminate the fear of digital data and technology.

DatNav contains valuable guidelines, scenarios and case studies, including how satellite imagery solved a 2015 government massacre in Burundi. This indispensable guide also addresses verification steps, privacy risks, ethical concerns, legally admissible evidence, fraudulent data, and responsible data considerations. With better tools, human rights defenders can be much more efficient and effective.

Direct to DatNav

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.