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Colombia 2010-2012 – Advancing Methods to Count Deaths and Missing People

From 2010 to 2012, a series of reports by HRDAG researchers applied new statistical methodologies to investigate deaths and missing people in Colombia. A 2010 report released by HRDAG scientists Tamy Guberek, Daniel Guzmán, Megan Price, Kristian Lum, and Patrick Ball documented patterns of violence in the Colombian state of Casanare. HRDAG researchers used MSE to analyze killings and disappearances recorded in 15 datasets provided by judicial, government, security, forensic and civil society organizations. Matching cases that appeared in more than one dataset, HRDAG statisticians modeled the process by which violations were recorded and estimated the ...

Welcoming Our 2019 Human Rights Intern

Trina Reynolds-Tyler is HRDAG's 2019 Human Rights Intern.

HRDAG To Join the Partnership on AI

HRDAG is joining Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society (PAI).

HRDAG’s Year in Review: 2022

This past year at HRDAG has been about continuing efforts to uncover the truth.

El Salvador 1991 – Who Did What To Whom?

Members of the Salvadoran military committed tens of thousands of killings during the country’s civil war which raged from the late 1970’s until 1990. While working for a peace organization in El Salvador in 1991, Patrick Ball was asked by a colleague at a human rights group to help organize a large collection of human rights testimonies. Trained as a social scientist, Ball created the “Who Did What To Whom” (WTWTW) model for examining human rights data. Ball used this system to create a structured, relational database of violations reported in more than 9,000 testimonies to the Salvadoran Human Rights Commission. To determine who was most ...

Condenan a responsables de desaparición de García

Changes at HRDAG

A special announcement from the HRDAG Advisory Board: Beginning officially on December 1, HRDAG is changing leadership. After nearly three years as Executive Director, Patrick Ball will become the new Director of Research. Megan Price will be the new Executive Director. Patrick has spent more than 25 years working at the intersection of human rights and statistical science. Over that time, he has finely honed statistical methodology for quantifying mass killings. Now he is excited about the chance to go deeper into research for HRDAG and develop additional approaches for new problems. In his new role, Patrick will focus more on technical coding ...

Data Mining on the Side of the Angels

“Data, by itself, isn’t truth.” How HRDAG uses data analysis and statistical methods to shed light on mass human rights abuses. Executive director Patrick Ball is quoted from his speech at the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany.


Help Us Advance Justice And Human Rights Your donations enable HRDAG to use data science and help our partners answer important questions about human rights and patterns of mass violence. Or Write a Check If you prefer to donate by check, please make it payable to: “Community Partners for HRDAG” Mail it to: Community Partners P. O. Box 741265 Los Angeles, CA 90074-1265

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 ...

Data Science Symposium at Vanderbilt

Patrick Ball keynoted the Data Science Symposium at Vanderbilt University.

Covid-19 Research and Resources

HRDAG is identifying and interpreting the best science we can find to shed light on the global crisis brought on by the novel coronavirus, about which we still know so little. Right now, most of the data on the virus SARS-CoV-2 and Covid-19, the condition caused by the virus, are incomplete and unrepresentative, which means that there is a great deal of uncertainty. But making sense of imperfect datasets is what we do. HRDAG is contributing to a better understanding with explainers, essays, and original research, and we are highlighting trustworthy resources for those who want to dig deeper. Papers and articles by HRDAG .ugb-bbeb275 .ugb-blo...

Data Mining on the Side of the Angels

"Data, by itself, isn’t truth." How HRDAG uses data analysis and statistical methods to shed light on mass human rights abuses. Executive director Patrick Ball is quoted from his speech at the Chaos Communication Congress in Hamburg, Germany. WIRED | THREAT LEVEL John Borland December 29, 2013 Link to story in WIRED

Welcoming Our 2019-2020 Visiting Data Science Student

Bing Wang has joined HRDAG as a Visiting Data Science Student until the summer of 2020.

Welcoming Our New Statistician

Maria Gargiulo has joined HRDAG as a Statistician.

Scanning Documents to Uncover Police Violence

Administrative paperwork generated by police departments can hold evidence of police violence, but can present unique challenges for data processing.

In Syria, Uncovering the Truth Behind a Number

Huffington Post Politics writer Matt Easton interviews Patrick Ball, executive director of HRDAG, about the latest enumeration of killings in Syria. As selection bias is increasing, it becomes harder to see it: we have the "appearance of perfect knowledge, when in fact the shape of that knowledge has not changed that much," says Patrick. "Technology is not a substitute for science." Huffington Post Politics Matt Easton September 6, 2014 Link to story on HuffPostPol Related blogpost (Updated Casualty Count for Syria) Back to Press Room

Big Data and Death at UW-Madison

On November 7, 2014, the Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin–Madison, and  the University of Wisconsin Law School, hosted a mini-conference with speakers Jennifer Alix-Garcia, Patrick Ball, Chad Hazlett, Volker Radeloff, and Philip Schrodt to speak about "Big Data and Death." The conference was organized by John Ahlquist and Jon Pevehouse. Big Data and Death Department of Political Science University of Wisconsin–Madison November 7, 2014 Madison, Wisconsin

Using Data and Statistics to Bring Down Dictators

In this story, Guerrini discusses the impact of HRDAG's work in Guatemala, especially the trials of General José Efraín Ríos Montt and Colonel Héctor Bol de la Cruz, as well as work in El Salvador, Syria, Kosovo, and Timor-Leste. Multiple systems estimation and the perils of using raw data to draw conclusions are also addressed. Megan Price and Patrick Ball are quoted, especially in regard to how to use raw data. “From our perspective,” Price says, “the solution to that is both to stay very close to the data, to be very conservative in your interpretation of it and to be very clear about where the data came from, how it was collected, what ...

HRDAG at Strata Conference 2014

Last Thursday, HRDAG co-founder and director of research Megan Price presented at Strata, the conference for data scientists and people who work with "big data." In her talk, she addressed the question of how we can know the actual number of conflict casualties in Syrian. Her short answer was, "We don't know." The longer answer was that we have a very good idea of how many conflict casualties have been reported, by several documentation groups, and that we're working on analyzing (more…)

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.