IMPACT OSS was designed and developed by human rights consultant Ashley Bowe and data visualisation agency Unfold Data, led by Edith Woischin and Timo Franz, with the help of human rights specialist Moana Eruera, who together founded the Impact Open Source Software Trust (the ‘Trust’) for maintaining the application's open source code and with the overall mission of advancing the enjoyment of human rights by promoting and developing suitable technologies.
New Zealand NPA, part 1
In June 2015, the New Zealand Human Rights Commission (NZ HRC) released its online National Plan of Action for the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights (NZ NPA) with the aim of making explicit what the NZ Government is doing to address human rights. While limited to tracking UPR recommendations, and not including any observations made by other UN Human Rights Mechanisms, the NZ NPA can be regarded as a conceptual ancestor of IMPACT OSS. It was designed and developed by Unfold Data and project managed by Moana Eruera, then of the NZ HRC.
The initial concept for Sadata, the software that later became IMPACT OSS, was developed by Ashley Bowe who was subsequently employed by the Regional Office for the Pacific (ROP) of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to fundraise and project manage its development. Recognising its relevance for and potential to help other countries with implementing and monitoring their human rights obligations, from the outset it was decided that Sadata would be released under an open source license.
The United Nations Development Program in Samoa and New Zealand Aid generously provided the required resources, allowing a tender to be put out for the development services. These were provided by Unfold Data who also contributed significantly to the final concept and data architecture. Their experience from developing the NZ NPA and the ongoing consultations with the NZ HRC allowed to consider NZ's specific requirements from the start, and Sadata to be compatible with and configurable to the specific needs of different countries. While Sadata continues to be the name for Samoa’s specific installation, the adaptable open source project was re-named to IMPACT OSS (short for "Integrated Management and Planning of Actions - Open Source Software").
New Zealand NPA, part 2
Having closely followed and consulted on the development of Sadata, the NZ HRC decided to use IMPACT OSS as the foundation for its updated NPA, that was now also to include the recommendations of other UN human rights mechanisms. Unfold Data was once more hired to customise and enhance IMPACT OSS, that included the development of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) module, support for mobile phones, and several accessibility improvements (some of which are still pending).
IMPACT OSS was thus born in Samoa and New Zealand and is a Pacific global offering to improve implementation and reporting of human rights and the SDGs around the world.
Impact Open Source Software Trust
To allow better maintaining the open source software and promote it to other countries and human rights organisations, in October 2017 Bowe, Woischin, Franz and Eruera formed the IMPACT OSS Group that would be formally incorporated as the Impact Open Source Software Trust on May 14th 2018 as a charitable trust under NZ’s Charitable Trusts Act of 1957 with the objective to advance the enjoyment of human rights and the realisation of the UN SDGs.
Universal Rights Group and Permanent Mission of Singapore
Guided by their shared belief in harnessing the potential of modern technology to support all States, especially Small States, engage more effectively with the UN human rights mechanisms, including by facilitating the implementation of recommendations, in 2017 the Trust teamed up with the Universal Rights Group (URG) to support the further optimisation of IMPACT OSS, and its promotion and take-up amongst States and NHRIs. In 2017-2018, the Permanent Mission of Singapore collaborated with URG to explore ways to further customise this tool to be more user-friendly to small states, including the production of user documentation and a video.