InformaCam’s Testing and Translation to Aid in Field Reporting and Evidence Gathering

In the fast-paced, high-stakes world of human rights reporting, the ability to quickly source and verify on-the-ground data is essential. Today, one of the most prominent sources of on-the-ground footage and documentation of human rights abuses is smartphone media. In order to ensure that mainstream media, international legal entities, and the general public can verify and trust the source of such documentation, WITNESS and the Guardian Project have developed a mobile application for the Android platform that can bolster the evidentiary and documentary value of captured smartphone media. By gathering metadata such as a smartphone’s GPS coordinates, altitude, compass bearing, light meter readings, and the signatures of neighboring devices, cell towers, and Wi-Fi networks, the InformaCam application can provide critical information about the circumstances and context under which the smartphone media was captured. This valuable information can support the veracity of smartphone-generated videos and images for media outlets and legal entities to which it is sent.

With the support of a small grant from the ISC Project, WITNESS further developed the InformaCam app to improve its usability and overall user experience. One of WITNESS’s most important goals was to make sure that InformaCam was usable for local populations around the world. With that goal in mind, the development team translated the InformaCam interface into Arabic, Spanish, and French. It also provided the app to volunteers, who translated it into several other languages, including Norwegian and Sinhala, thereby improving the app’s usability in non-English-speaking regions.

In addition, the team initiated a peer code review for the InformaCam app and its secure back-end servers. The review uncovered security vulnerabilities on the server that were fairly common and easily fixed. Some of the client-side vulnerabilities will require additional work to address, but the code review provided a starting point for developing new security features for future versions of the InformaCam app.

Finally, WITNESS performed user testing of the improved InformaCam app in three separate locations: Paris; New York City; and Berkeley, CA. The testing process provided insight into varying usage patterns between those who are familiar with the Android operating system and those who are not. It also generated valuable feedback and recommendations that will be incorporated into subsequent versions of InformaCam and set a structure for future testing sessions.

The developers of InformaCam are committed to continued improvement of the application through further development and testing. The translated version of the InformaCam app can be downloaded here: https://rink.hockeyapp.net/apps/dafbc649fcf585d7867866d5375b6495.