We recently worked with Pursue to improve tracking of service breakdowns in Palestinian refugee camps across Lebanon. Pursue has been working with community organizations in all twelve refugee camps for the past five years. With more attention on the refugee situation in Lebanon, there are opportunities to push for improved service delivery with better, timely data.
Working closely with Pursue, we created a mobile reporting system, verification tools, and a public website showing the extent to which refugees are denied basic services. We built the system entirely from open source tools, and we designed it with security and privacy in mind.
It was important to Pursue and its partners in the camps to verify these reports. Pursue’s partners are collecting and verifying thousands of reports. To make this manageable, we built a verification tool in Django that managers can use to quickly reviewing whether reports are verified true, verified false or are unverified. We designed the verification platform to be usable by the data verifier who is triaging hundreds of reports a day and for the field organizer who is trying to track the status of single report.
We built a map and report interface to highlights trends in service breakdowns between camps and within neighborhoods in camps. These tools clearly show users whether information is verified. For simplicity, we use a simple checkbox to filter out all reports that are “unverified” or “verified false”, even though we distinguish between these in the verification platform. We showed the verification status prominently on all report listings.
Privacy and Security
The reporting and verification tools utilize SSL to encrypt all data while it is being submitted or viewed. To protect the privacy of reporters, the system does not require reports to submit precise location information. Trusted administrators use the precise location when it is provided to verify reports. Regardless of the location precision, the public platform only shows reports to the neighborhood level.
We utilized open source technologies from the OpenDataKit (ODK) ecosystem, including tools like Enketo and Formhub, for mobile reporting. The systems uses Enketo to serve a simple web form on any device. Formhub makes it easy for camp managers to build and manage forms using a familiar spreadsheet, like Excel. We used Django for the verification tool. We used AngularJS, Mapbox, and a bit of Bootstrap for the public portal.