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Liquid Investigations 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

LI is generously supported by the Google’s Digital News Initiative. Our project partners are:

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


Journalists today are increasingly collaborative, working both within and between newsrooms on large, complex investigations involving thousands or millions of source documents (Football Leaks, OffshoreLeaks). 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. Without an interoperability strategy, user input or a focus on long-term sustainability - these tools were not fitting the bill.

Once we found the right constellation of people sharing similar interests and motivations, we decided to take matters into our own hands and create useful tools for collaborative groups. This is how the Liquid investigations concept was born.

Tech Approach

We want our solution to leverage existing work, but be at the same time 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. The bundle is useful for small teams with limited resources. Each team has a separate environment in which their data is protected. We don’t want to re-invent the wheel, so we are analyzing existing software candidates for our freely licensed smart bundle.

(2) Federated hardware approach

  • We believe that this is the more innovative aspect of our project. We want to equip journalists with an end product: a small and portable (ARM-Class) device - to be used over an air-gapped secure network. We are utilizing more or less the same software stack on the cloud solution as well as on ARM solution. We are currently testing multiple hardware candidates to decide which micro-board is best suited to house the functionalities of the smart bundle. So far we've decided Odroid C2 is our starting point.

More details can be found here.

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.

Quarterly project updates

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

liquid_investigations/blog_post.txt · Last modified: 2017/03/22 13:17 by andreeab