Monash researchers amplify community voices through video

Monash University

Monash University’s Faculty of Information Technology (IT), the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) have developed an innovative approach to empower communities.

Some of the world’s most isolated and remote communities will now have the ability to share their stories and raise public awareness of the local issues they’re facing through a unique open-source video program developed by Monash University.

By offering a supportive and collaborative storytelling video process, Indaba will amplify local voices by helping rural communities film and publish rich, meaningful stories – without advanced technical skills.

Working closely with the IFRC, researchers in the Faculty of IT have developed Indaba in over 13 real-world deployments internationally. From Indonesia to Honduras, this pioneering project has worked with over 1,100 people and has helped raise awareness of water and sanitation initiatives, expose nutrition and agricultural issues, advocate for vulnerable children and more.

Timely and reliable monitoring and evaluation of these deployment has made it possible for the IFRC to identify trends, strengths and areas for improvement at a national, regional and global level.

Now, after two-and-a-half years, Monash and the IFRC will release Indaba to the public as an open-source, creative commons software. They will also make an interactive toolkit available to over 190 countries in four languages.

These resources will ensure that knowledge gained from the videos can be made public to raise attention and support for rural communities and the challenges they face.

Project Lead Dr Tom Bartindale, Lecturer in the Faculty of IT, said Indaba blends next-generation features in a digitally augmented process to allow non-professionals to reinforce community delivered media.

“Video production has traditionally been an endeavour limited to those with high media literacy. Through Indaba, a group, community or organisation can create authentic videos, from ideation to production, and tell their story without third-party intervention,” Dr Bartindale said.

For Miki Tsukamoto, Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator at the IFRC, the Indaba participatory video process has also been valuable in gathering community feedback for the IFRC and National Society projects.

“IFRC’s Planning, Monitoring, Evaluation and Reporting Unit in Geneva is pleased to launch this innovative tool – Indaba with Monash University. It’s helping us create more efficient, and inclusive approaches to project monitoring and evaluation,” said Miki Tsukamoto.

Indaba is a key initiative from Monash University’s Action Lab, a cross-disciplinary research group specialising in interaction design and ubiquitous computing. The Lab explores how digital technologies can give citizens greater control over their lives and enhance their ability to help each other.

Indaba and its suite of materials are now available online. View past Indaba deployments on the IFRC YouTube channel.

/Public Release.