October 08 2014By Ed Anderton
Videre is great example of an organisation using technology to empower people to achieve change. Working as they do in some of the most oppressive societies in the world, they’re unable to share many specifics about their work: what can certainly be said is that it is exceedingly carefully executed, extensive and proven to be effective. Proven to the extent that they have just secured funds from several sources to expand their work from Africa to two new continents.
I was lucky enough to catch up with the team earlier this year to find out more about this inspiring project.
Through putting film-making equipment into the hands of those who wish to document human rights violations or other crimes and giving them rigorous security training and a strong distribution network, Videre have helped to challenge such abuses, raising awareness of these issues through the global media and other means. Often uncredited for security reasons, footage gathered by Videre’s network has featured in hundreds of news outlets and been cited as evidence in a growing number of courtrooms.
When I spoke to a couple of their London-based staff, it was clear that they are a restless organisation, determined to extend their reach, and interrogate and refine their methods as they grow. The stakes are high: their activist network regularly risk their lives in doing their work, and Videre’s duty of care extends not only to their physical safety but to the focus, safety and integrity of the material they gather.
Their staff explained to me some of the lengths to which they go to ensure there is a clear strategy in place for each campaign, to target precisely the footage which is required, how it has to be handled and into whose hands it must passed in order to achieve their objective. This also very much guides their use of technology: both in terms of how they make cameras ‘hidden’ and how they manage and exploit their growing archive.
As the number of campaigns, network members, partner organisations and media connections has grown, Videre has invested in database technology which allows them to identify patterns and trends, track where and how footage is used, and to what effect. This is an enormous source of intelligence for them, both in influencing the direction of ongoing campaigns and evaluating the overall impact of their work. Their archive system also allows them to maintain vital control over their footage, which is scrupulously categorised according to how strongly they can verify its accuracy, and the legal or ethical restrictions on its use.
The professionalism which Videre bring to their work has earned them an international profile and reputation, with their founders, Oren Yakobovich and Uri Fruchtmann, providing the public face for their dedicated team and the hundreds of brave, disciplined activist film-makers they support. The ambition to build on this momentum is clear - for Videre, “2015 is the year of going global”.
At Nominet Trust, we can appreciate not only the great value of their work to the cause of achieving global justice, but also the insights to be taken from the way in which they have intelligently deployed technology to maximise their impact. This fresh injection of funding will ensure, then, the ongoing prosperity of an organisation from whom we have much to learn, and which has much more it wants to world to see.