The Story Behind Project Lockdown

COVID-19 has profoundly impacted all of us, but it has not done so in equal ways. Project Lockdown (PLD) is a non-partisan, civic tech organization that visualizes those differences.

Currently, PLD measures COVID-19 related non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as the use of the military and state of emergency powers, based on how they interact with internationally-recognized Human Rights treaties. Through mapping these policies, the project assists citizens, journalists, and defenders of Human Rights in better understanding the impact of COVID-19 on the Rights of people in territories around the world. PLD is also reshaping itself to be a broader Rights Observatory analyzing the policies of territories and their potential impact on Human and Digital Rights.

Origins and Rationale

Back in March, in the midst of the global pandemic, Jean F. Queralt, like many of us, saw a lot of uncertainty in our global future. He felt the flood of numbers and statistics only provided a “piece of the story”. That is why Queralt decided to start PLD, as he believed that mapping out the data “allows us to see the general picture of things”. PLD answers the question: if nothing happens today, what will the world look like in six months?

Of course, numbers are just numbers. That’s when Queralt tied in his interest in protecting Human and Digital Rights. Every data point on the PLD map connects to the observance or non-observance of a particular Right. Querlart comments, “That was one of the main great ideas we had... The combination of only using government sources and the human rights and digital rights proved to be pretty unique. “.

Queralt also wants to emphasize the nonpartisan purpose of PLD. He insists, “We are not taking any side other than rights. That is our side and that is always going to be our perspective.”. This is why PLD doesn’t make predictions and simply displays the data for citizens, journalists, and defenders of Human Rights to learn from and use. The development of these goals occurred at an incredibly quick pace ; “4-5 days”, recalls Queralt. “The backbone of the project was born very fast”.

Project Growth

From those early days, PLD has expanded into a collaborative effort of over 50 volunteers and partner organizations around the world. The team benefits from the work of data scientists, editors, designers, web developers, as well as those working in human resources, resource allocation, documentation, and marketing/communications. Earlier this year, the project was submitted to the European Commission's EUvsVirus Hackathon and won in the “Protections of Citizens and Democracy” category. The initiative is now a member of the COVID-19 Challenge Platform, which was created by the European Innovation Council to support winning projects.

With all that said, PLD is still a growing organization and continues to depend on the dedication of passionate volunteers to make an impact. We'd love to have you join us!