Tech and Human Rights
The Syrian conflict is the first time human-rights focused technology has been used and engineered by individual activists and NGOs to collect, analyze, and share documentation of crimes against humanity during an active conflict. New technologies are changing the work of activists and have broad implications for current and future justice and accountability efforts.
Bayanat Features and Updates
SJAC was one of the earliest advocates of human rights technology solutions that give users the ability to collect, store, and analyze massive amounts of data using artificial intelligence and open source collaboration. In 2020, we released our open source relational database software “Bayanat,” which has allowed SJAC to preserve nearly 2 million pieces of open source and field documentation. This data can be analyzed to mine for evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Our collaboration with organizations like Benetech has allowed us to develop a responsive platform that is technologically advanced, as well as user friendly and easily adaptable to unique needs and circumstances. The vast amount of documentation collected by Syrians is invaluable to current and future accountability mechanisms, but the analysis and preservation of this data by humans would be impossible. New technology, like Bayanat, makes data analysis both easy and effective, allowing activists to filter vast quantities of data to query for evidence that is useful in criminal trials, the search for missing persons, and research into human rights violations committed during the conflict.
Since the launch of Bayanat, SJAC’s team of analysts have worked to categorize, analyze, and preserve documentation collected by SJAC’s field teams, as well as scour the internet for videos and other documentation posted on social media and public messaging channels. Our analysis helps build connections between crimes and perpetrators and coordinate the secure sharing of data for UN/Governmental agencies including the International, Impartial, and Independent Mechanism for Syria (IIIM), and law enforcement and war crimes agencies across Europe. We also provide assistance to other human rights groups in Syria and across the globe that seek to utilize Bayanat and develop their own analysis methodologies.
Bayanat is open source and free to download by researchers, activists, and organization. The platform is available in English, Arabic and Ukrainian. Non-profit organizations interested in a demonstration or technical support should reach out to SJAC at [email protected]
Click for Technical Details:
Rewritten in Python with the Flask framework, Bayanat offers:
1. Clear and consistent user interface with a focus on performance and efficiency;
2. User management and permissions system that allows multiple levels of access;
3. Detailed revision history for each item in the database, with snapshots for each edit;
4. Activity monitoring tool to track all logins and changes in the database;
5. Powerful custom search and filtering tool that allows user to build simple and complex search queries; and
6. Simple data management app to facilitate processing large datasets.
Excel/CSV Upload Tool
March – 2022
SJAC's Excel/CSV upload tool allows users to quickly upload large amounts of data stored in a table format. Bayanat can then identify and auto-categorize different data fields, significantly speeding up user workflow and improving data processing and accuracy.
March – 2022
SJAC’s analysis methodology, which helps analysts to categorize and sort large batches of documentation is now available English and Arabic here. This methodology was developed in an effort to better manage the millions of pieces of documentation stored in Bayanat so that activists can quickly filter data to fill specific investigative needs. The methodology includes the data labels used by SJAC, in addition to an analysis flow chart that guides new users through the process of data analysis.
December – 2021
SJAC added a geolocation feature to Bayanat which allows users to store and categorize geolocation information that is used to verify documentation information related to videos and images. This new feature helps activists to tag locations to specific scenes in a video which helps to verify the time and location where a video was taken. The feature also gives activists the ability to build cluster maps of incidents that are vital for investigations of human rights violations.
Open Source Update and Launch
In 2020, SJAC released Bayanat on Github, making the source-code for the database software freely available to the public. After six years of development and internal utilization, the software was released following a major update.