Violations Documentation Center collects data on the imprisonment, torture, missing and deaths of civilians, rebels, and regime forces in Syria.
VDC had the biggest dataset of any HRO attending the workshop. Their entire database contains more than 150,000 entries. The data VDC wanted to focus on was the “martyrs” which contains data on more than 128,000 civilians (adults and children) and rebels who have died in the war. This data included their full names, gender, age, location, date of death, method of death, and could also include multimedia such as photos, videos, articles and more.
By the end of the workshop the VDC team had produced an interactive and video data visualisation prototype and a solid proof of concept which was uploaded to Github.
To bring attention to the huge death toll in Syria for an international and somewhat jaded audience the VDC team wanted to humanise their huge dataset of Syrian victims through the introduction of one young boy’s shocking story. They picked Hamza Al- Khateeb’s, a 13-year-old boy who was detained, tortured and killed by the authorities in 2011 after attending a demonstration with his parents, and whose death sparked protests across the country.
To explain to their audience that Hamza was not that different from other Syrian victims who opposed the regime or ISIS, they framed the story in the context of the “price of standing up for your rights”, asking the audience a question to lure them into the story which animates and prompts the user to click on “find out why”.
Once the user decides to find out more they are given an introduction screen about Hamza’s story. The team here introduced full-sized photography, something that is used throughout the project.
This leads to an animated video of the data visualisation which starts zoomed in on database entry of Hamza’s death and then zooms out to reveal that his entry is just one of more than 120,000 people killed in the conflict and whose story is documented in the VDC database.
Every pixel in the interactive data visualisation represents a person killed in the war. Users will be able to access each person’s story through the interactive data visualisation and explore VDCs database using various filters.
In addition the the data visualisation of the database, the VDC team also created About Us, Donate, and Help us pages which allows users to find out more about VDCs work and how to assist them in their work.