Using Earth Observation Data to Do Investigations from the Sky

The democratization of satellite technology and the entry of private companies into the field of space means it’s now possible to have access to high spatio-temporal data at a very minimal cost, leading to interesting investigative stories. In the coming years as the democratization of satellite technology gathers pace, more and more cases that had been undocumented or unreported will see the light of the day.

Tracking COVID-19 World Bank Funding by Country

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The World Bank is supporting governments in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, providing about $14 billion to more than 100 countries. But how is the money being spent and who is getting the contracts? 

Tracking the use of this money can be facilitated by World Bank data online along with national procurement records. This resource aims to encourage such inquiries. We’ll show how to mine the somewhat-complex World Bank record system. We’ll also suggest ways to use these documents in conjunction with research into procurement records at the national level. 

Also, see a short GIJN video showing how to access World Bank documents about COVID-19 aid to your country.

Collaborating to Identify COVID-19’s Victims in New York City

When a team of student journalists realized that thousands of New Yorkers had died due to COVID-19 but had been left out of the obituary pages, they teamed up to create Missing Them, an ambitious collaborative journalism project working to memorialize everyone that died due to COVID-19 in one of the hardest-hit cities in America.

Document of the Day: In Defense of Data Scraping

In a filing to the Supreme Court in the United States, a raft of media organizations including the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Associated Press, The Boston Globe, BuzzFeed, The Center for Investigative Reporting, The Daily Beast, Dow Jones, VICE ,and The Washington Post, have argued that the interpretation of the country’s Computer Fraud and Abuse Act needs to be narrowed to avoid “serious constitutional concerns.” In the document, which can be read in full here, the organizations argue that an interpretation of the law by the court of appeals “chills ordinary journalistic activity protected by the First Amendment.”

How Forensic Architecture Supports Journalists with Complex Investigative Techniques

Since it was founded in 2010, Forensic Architecture has “hacked into the source code” of architecture to produce innovative and ground-breaking investigations that use 3D modelling, data mining, machine learning, and audio analysis. Working like a lab for the development of new tools, the outfit uses many of the forensic methods of investigation that have historically been the preserve of law enforcement to investigate social and political topics and injustices.