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Indirect Sampling to Measure Conflict Violence: Trade-offs in the Pursuit of Data That Are Good, Cheap, and Fast

Romesh Silva and Megan Price. “Indirect Sampling to Measure Conflict Violence: Trade-offs in the Pursuit of Data That Are Good, Cheap, and Fast.” Journal of the American Medical Association. 306(5):547-548. 2011. © 2011 JAMA. All rights reserved.

The task is a quantum of workflow

This post describes how we organize our work over ten years, twenty analysts, dozens of countries, and hundreds of projects: we start with a task. A task is a single chunk of work, a quantum of workflow. Each task is self-contained and self-documenting; I'll talk about these ideas at length below. We try to keep each task as small as possible, which makes it easy to understand what the task is doing, and how to test whether the results are correct. In the example I'll describe here, I'm going to describe work from our Syria database matching project, which includes about 100 tasks. I'll start with the first thing we do with files we receive ...

When It Comes to Human Rights, There Are No Online Security Shortcuts

Patrick Ball. When It Comes to Human Rights, There Are No Online Security Shortcuts, Wired op-ed, August 10, 2012. Wired.com © 2013 Condé Nast. All rights reserved.

10MM Images from Guatemala’s National Police Go Online: Disappearances, STD Experiments, More

Chad – Photo Essay

[français] Hissène Habré was president of the former French colony of Chad from 1982 to 1990. Credible allegations of systematic torture and crimes against humanity have been made against Habré’s state security force, the Documentation and Security Directorate (DDS), which pursued political opponents and operated notorious prisons during his regime. One prison where the DDS is alleged to have tortured prisoners is the “Piscine,” a former swimming pool covered by a concrete roof. Prisoners were held in ten dank cells where witnesses say they were starved and abused. After being forced from power in 1990, Habré went into exile ...

HRDAG is hiring – technical lead

If this could be you, let us know. Also, please feel free to pass on this link to great people. Job Title. Technical lead with a hacker's heart Location. A cool office in SOMA, San Francisco. You need to be on-site with us. What we do. The Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG) develops statistical techniques to measure human rights atrocities. Our work helps bring dictators to justice through data analysis of human rights atrocities around the world. Over more than 20 years, our small team has developed technology and statistical techniques to take disjoint, incomplete, and inaccurate information from conflict zones and process it to identify ...

RustConf 2019, and systems programming as a data scientist

It could make sense to use Rust as a data journalist for in-browser computations, and other thoughts from RustConf.

How to Become a Data Scientist: My Lessons at HRDAG

I will use the skills and culture I learned from HRDAG’s team to understand how the conflict has affected the people in my country.

How much faith can we place in coronavirus antibody tests?

Given a positive test result, what is the probability that an individual has antibodies? This HRDAG-authored Granta article explains the science.

HRDAG Drops Dropbox

On Wednesday, April 9, the file hosting service Dropbox announced the addition of Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, to their Board of Directors, citing the need for “a leader who could help us expand our global footprint.” In response to this announcement, HRDAG requested (and rapidly received) a refund for our recent purchase of Dropbox for Business, and will drop the use of their service entirely. Patrick Ball, HRDAG’s Executive Director stated: “As a human rights organization, we find Condoleezza Rice's complicity in the serious human rights abuses of the Bush administration very worrying. ...

Megan Price Elected Board Member of Tor Project

Today The Tor Project announced that it has elected a new Board of Directors, and among them is HRDAG executive director Megan Price. The Tor Project is a nonprofit advocacy group that promotes online privacy and provides software that helps users opt out of online tracking. Megan and Patrick have long maintained that encryption and privacy are essential for enabling human rights work. Patrick's ideas are described in Monday's FedScoop story about encryption, human rights, and the U.S. State Department. “Human rights groups depend on strong cryptography in order to hold governments accountable," says Patrick. "HRDAG depends on local human ...

Where Stats and Rights Thrive Together

Everyone I had the pleasure of interacting with enriched my summer in some way.

Happy Ada Lovelace Day!

As an organization that uses science to advocate for human rights, the goals and issues represented by Ada Lovelace Day are very near and dear to our hearts.  Additionally, we are lucky to work with and be advised by some pretty kick-ass ladies in STEM (see our People page to learn more about these amazing women (and men)). I brainstormed a list of women I could write about, as Finding Ada suggests we celebrate today by blogging about a STEM heroine.  I considered Anita Borg (she has her own institute!), who advocated tirelessly for women in computer science.  I thought about Sally Wyatt, keynote speaker and organizer of the fascinating workshop...

Always Learning

The data science field is always changing, which means that I'll always be learning.

Herb Spirer, 1925 – 2018

Herb led and mentored a generation of statisticians working in human rights.

Learning a Modular, Auditable and Reproducible Workflow

The modular nature of the workflow and use of Git allowed us to work on different parts of the project from across the country.

Reflections: A Love Letter to HRDAG

On the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, HRDAG executive director Megan Price tells us why she loves her work, and why she feels hopeful about the future.

Lies, Damned Lies and Official Statistics

This essay in the Health and Human Rights Journal addresses attempts to undermine Covid-19 data collection.


HRDAG’s analysis and expertise continues to deepen the national conversation about police violence and criminal justice reform in the United States. In 2015 we began by considering undocumented victims of police violence, relying on the same methodological approach we’ve tested internationally for decades. Shortly after, we examined “predictive policing” software, and demonstrated the ways that racial bias is baked into the algorithms. Following our partners’ lead, we next considered the impact of bail, and found that setting bail increases the likelihood of a defendant being found guilty. We then broadened our investigations to examine ...

Why Collecting Data In Conflict Zones Is Invaluable—And Nearly Impossible

Our work has been used by truth commissions, international criminal tribunals, and non-governmental human rights organizations. We have worked with partners on projects on five continents.