Does Your Phone Know Where You Live?

Exploring Data Trails as a Tool for Property Rights​
Blog Post
Jane Kelly /
Sept. 27, 2019

On September 27th, the Future of Property Rights Program at New America gathered a small group of policymakers, funders, advocates, and technologists to explore how new forms of digital evidence can be harnessed to document land and property rights.

As our social and economic lives move online, we are beginning to generate a wealth of data that reveals important things about us. Consider how the financial inclusion sector is already relying on digital footprints to offer banking services to populations previously deemed uncreditworthy. The humanitarian sector, meanwhile, is turning to social media and cell phone location data to locate disaster survivors.

Can this same model be applied to land and property rights? In other words, can the data people passively generate every day --just by virtue of carrying a smartphone in their pocket, ordering a rideshare, completing an online money transfer, or posting a photo to Facebook-- be used to help them prove their property claims?

We think this idea is exciting --even revolutionary perhaps. And we asked the experts what they thought: a recording of their presentations, as well as audience Q&A, is available below:

Thoughts on where we're headed? Feel free to reach out to us at

Related Topics
Global Land and Property Rights