Liquid Investigations
Andreea Bonea / 2017-03-14 is delighted to to jumpstart the ‘Liquid investigations’ project (LI), aiding investigative collaborations to unfold more efficiently.

LI aims to prototype and test an open source digital toolkit to facilitate inter-organizational investigative collaborations.

When fully developed, the kit will allow for distributed, non-hierarchical data analysis, sharing, annotation, as well as chat. While the software can run on any server, focus will be placed on small and portable (ARM-Class) devices, giving network members more distributed and granular control over data management than current systems

The ‘Liquid Investigations’ project is generously supported byGoogle’s Digital News Initiative. Our partners are:

The project started Feb 1st 2017 and will develop over the course of 1 year.

Share this story

Journalists today are increasingly collaborative, working both within and between newsrooms on large, complex investigations involving thousands or millions of source documents. They need tools to facilitate their collaborative work.

We’ve been racking our brains for several years to find an affordable, secure and scalable solution, to enable collaboration between different groups of journalists. We came across many investigative tools. Some proprietary, others open source - but without an integration strategy, real testing, user input or a focus on long-term sustainability. Finally, we found the right constellation of people sharing similar interests and motivations and decided to take matters into our own hands. This is how the Liquid investigations concept was born.

We want our solution to leverage existing work, but at the same time be innovative and useful. Therefore we’ve decided to employ two different tech approaches for the liquid investigations toolkit.

(1) Classic cloud (SAAS) approach

  • We will bundle functionalities such as search, annotation, chat and file-sharing, and offer them as a ready-to-use hosted web platform. We don’t want to re-invent the wheel and we don’t want to duplicate efforts. Hence we are analyzing existing software candidates for our freely licensed smart bundle.

(2) Federated hardware approach

  • One of our main focuses are small and portable (ARM-Class) devices - to be used by journalists over an air-gapped secure network. We are utilizing more or less the same software stack on the cloud as well as on the micro boards. We are currently testing multiple hardware candidates to decide which micro-board is best suited to house the functionalities of the smart bundle.

At the end of year 1 journalists should be able to collaborate on an investigation, by using secure micro boards (ARM class devices).The goal is to provide investigative journalists with a secure and integrated environment to enable distributed, liquid collaboration on journalistic projects.

The LI project will have soon a dedicated Home, where we will post our quarterly updates.