Digital Democracy is a US-based NGO that aims to support marginalised communities to use technology to defend their rights. With technology becoming cheaper and more accessible, they believe that it can be used to increase the involvement of marginalised groups in discussions and in protecting their rights and resources. They have a particular focus on forest monitoring, including in tropical countries.
The organisation trains communities to use technologies such as mobile phones, online maps and cameras, designs tools to facilitate the use of technologies. It also builds bridges between their work on the ground and international decision makers.
For example, in the Peruvian Amazon, Digital Democracy supports indigenous peoples’ organisations to monitor and document rights violations and illegal logging. They develop software and mobile apps to gather, systematise, and visualise conflicts over resources and the status of forest projects. In Guyana, Digital Democracy work with the Wapichana people, whose livelihoods are threatened by illegal logging and mining. Together with partners, they developed an early warning platform that combines real-time satellite analysis with checks on the ground, including using drones, to detect illegal activities as quickly as possible. In northern Ecuador, Digital Democracy works with communities whose lands and waters have been badly affected by oil drilling, palm plantations and roads; they use GPS equipment and drones to gather images and create maps showing the impacts on local people.