Does Your Phone Know Where You Live?

Exploring Data Trails as a Tool for Property Rights​

**This event is invitation only. To request an invitation, please email**

We live in an increasingly urban and networked world. As our social and economic lives move online, we are beginning to generate a wealth of data that can reveal important things about our movements and behaviors. The financial inclusion sector is already relying on digital footprints to offer banking services to populations previously deemed un-creditworthy. The humanitarian sector, meanwhile, is turning to social media and cell phone data to locate disaster survivors. Can these models be applied to land and property rights?

We think this idea is exciting, but there are a host of questions that need to be addressed before this idea can become a reality. New America’s Future of Property Rights program and Omidyar Network are hosting a closed-door workshop which will bring together policymakers, funders, advocates and technologists to explore how new forms of digital evidence can be harnessed to document land and property rights.

Join us on September 27th for an in-depth conversation about this overlooked but critically-important topic.

The event will begin with a series of presentations highlighting innovative approaches to using personal data to tackle humanitarian and development challenges, including disaster and post-conflict land restitution. The presentations will be followed by a catered lunch, after which attendees will engage in working groups to examine key questions raised by the presentations, and their application to property rights. In the final session, the working groups will present their findings for discussion. The goal is to determine the viability of using our data trails to prove where we live, to identify the biggest implementation barriers, and the most likely scenarios for first adoption.


10:00 Welcoming Remarks

  • Yuliya Panfil, Senior Fellow and Director, Future of Property Rights, New America

10:10 Presentations

  • Presentation Name TBD
    • Emmanuel Letouzé is the Director and co-Founder of Data-Pop Alliance, a coalition on big data and development co-created in 2013 by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, MIT Media Lab, and the Overseas Development Institute.
  • Location Data: Considerations on Accuracy and Privacy
    • Xavier Vollenweider is an economist at Flowminder, non-profit based in Stockholm, Sweden that analyzes data from mobile phones, satellites, and surveys to improve public health and welfare in low- and middle-income countries. Xavier’s interest lies in using novel data sources and techniques to characterize poverty dynamics, climate vulnerability and the adoption of mobile financial services.
  • A Digital Upgrade to Mass Claims Procedures: 'Alternative’ Evidence and Housing, Land and Property Rights in Conflict-affected Contexts
    • Matthew Pritchard is a researcher who specializes in post-war and post-crisis land tenure reform, including the use of non-traditional digital evidence for post-conflict housing, land, and property restitution.
  • Harnessing the Transformational Power of Decentralized Identity
    • Heather Dahl is CEO of the Sovrin Foundation, an international non-profit that was established to govern the Sovrin Identity Network, a public service utility enabling self-sovereign identity on the internet.

11:30 Presenter Q&A

  • Moderator: Chris Mellon, Policy Analyst, Future of Property Rights, New America

12:00 Lunch

12:30 Working Groups

  • The participants will be divided into small working groups composed of experts in a mix of different fields. Virtual meeting rooms will be available for the remote participants. Each working group will explore a different set of questions. At the end, the groups will reconvene to share and discuss their conclusions.

2:30 Closing

Follow the conversation online using #PropRightsData and following @NewAmericaFPR.

Omidyar Network uses the transformative power of people, markets, and technology to drive empowerment and accelerate solutions equal to today’s challenges. Established in 2004 by philanthropists Pam and Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, our efforts focus on society’s most pressing issues. We seek to create a more equitable economy, promote responsible technology, and discover emergent issues that will shape our future.​ To date, we have committed nearly $1.5 billion to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations. To learn more, visit or follow on Twitter @omidyarnetwork.