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HURIDOCS Is Looking for a Developer - Pick Your Brain
Saturday, July 19 2008 @ 11:32 PM EDT

I received a request from Tom Longley, Project Manager for Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems (HURIDOCS), a Geneva-based nonprofit. They're looking for someone to help them reengineer their database software, WinEvsys, to be released under a Free Software license. That page has tons of info, including a fact sheet and a demo and the software for download. This software is used internationally by a lot of human rights organizations to keep track of human rights abuses, of which there seems to be a never-ending supply.

Here's the page about the Request for Proposal. You can download the full proposal, a 3.1 MB zip file, which includes all the details plus some attached papers explaining the model they currently use. They'd like to reengineer WinEvsys, software they developed based on Microsoft Access 2003, keeping the same data model, sets of forms and controlled vocabularies, but opening it up and making it a web application. It will be called OpenEvsys.

WinEvsys has worked well in some respects, but they have specific ideas on what they'd like to do next, and that means they need to reengineer and come up with something easier to use and that can do more things and is more flexible and customizable. He figured Groklaw was a good place to ask if anyone was interested or knew anyone who might be interested enough to respond to their Request for Proposal.

Of course, do your own due diligence. The deadline to respond is August 15. If you are interested, email Tom Longley, tom.longley at . Ideas are welcome too, which is why I'm filing this under Pick Your Brain.

They describe the data model of the software currently being used like this:

WinEvsys is based on documentation tools developed by HURIDOCS: standard formats and micro-thesauri. These tools:
  • make it possible to structure information on violations using the Events approach: an event contains acts, perpetrators, victims, sources, intervening parties.
  • provide a systematic vocabularies for describing human rights violations, making it possible to share data collected by several organisations for a common analysis.
There's even a video on how to modify it on Google Video. So there's plenty of information on what they do now.

Here's part of his email:


Dear PJ --

I'm Tom Longley, and I'm a project manager at Human Rights Documentation and Information Systems (HURIDOCS), a Geneva-based non-profit. Earlier this year, I noticed that a colleague of mine (arnotsmith) from No Peace Without Justice posted a request for assistance in building a database for documenting the post-electoral violence in Kenya: The comments on it were pretty practical and high quality.

I've got quite a simliar request of Groklaw readers: Can they help my organisations, HURIDOCS, find an awesome software developer to re-engineer our WinEvsys database software? WinEvsys is used by many organisations worldwide to document violations of human rights. It's currently in use by prominent human rights organisations in Bangladesh, Mexico, the Phillipines and Zimbabwe, and many others. Generally, the organisations that use WinEvsys feel it is a workhorse. They really value it, and the precise and detailed analysis it can give using the Who Did What To Whom relational data model developed by Patrick Ball (of Martus) and expanded by HURIDOCS.

However, WinEvsys' current MS Access format is quite difficult to use, and users want to see improvements in the following areas:

  • Usability and user interface
  • More extensive reporting features such as graphs, tables and maps
  • Better flexibility in deployment, for larger, distributed organisations
  • Be open source, to better enable customisation and translation
  • Security: user management and audit, encryption and backup

To that end, we've decided to re-engineer the WinEvsys as a web application, which we will release under a Free Software License to stimulate its further development. It's a really challenging contract for a software house, given the tough operating environments that many end user human rights organisations work in. We have put together a Request for Proposals, which can be downloaded from here (~3.1 MB, contains RFP + annexes, the WinEvsys database application, and UML of the data model) (files also downloadable separately from that page)

The deadline for responses (to me, at tom.longley at is 15 August 2008, and we'll contact shortlisted developers by 25 August 2008. I'm sure that Groklaw readers will be able to help us find an excellent developer for this critical system....

Yours sincerely,

Tom Longley

-- -- -- --
Tom Longley, Project Manager
Human Rights Information and Documentation Systems (HURIDOCS)

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