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WeGov

A Boost for Both Transparency and Taxes in Mexico?

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, January 8 2014

There may be more pesos for the municipality of Tlajomulco de Zúñiga this year (Credit: Scott Robinson/flickr)

While the Mexican municipality of Tlajomulco de Zúñiga sits in the center of the country, its name translates as “Land in the Corner” in the Aztec language, Nahuatl. The title is perhaps more fitting now. Once one of the country’s most corrupt municipalities, it now occupies a special corner of Mexico as its least corrupt, jumping from a 34.2 in 2009 to a full score of 100 in 2013 as ranked by the transparency organization CIMTRA. Mayor Ismael del Toro and his predecessor Enrique Alfaro are in part responsible for pushing forward a number of innovative policies that include a four-year-old participatory budgeting project, which allow citizens to vote annually on how their taxes should be spent. Read More

WeGov

Why Did "I Paid A Bribe" Fail In China? It's More Complicated Than You Think

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, January 8 2014

Report corruption here. (Flickr/WatchSmart)

A paper by Yuen Yuen Ang, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Michigan, explains“Why 'I-Paid-A-Bribe' Worked in India but Failed in China.”

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Chinese Communist Party Takes a Stab at Making Viral Online Videos

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, January 7 2014

A motorbike-riding clown is just one "Chinese dream" featured in the CCP's latest propaganda video (credit: screenshot)

It seems as if the Chinese Communist Party is looking for a little country rebranding for the new year and is taking a cue from the power of viral online videos. In its second installment – its first propaganda video achieved some moderate success – the CCP mysteriously published on new year's day a three-minute video on Youku, China’s version of Youtube. It contains no credits though some officials have publicly noted the video and a CCP logo complete with sickle and hammer appears in the right-hand corner of the screen. Read More

WeGov

A “World First”: France's Data.Gouv.Fr Opens Platform To Citizen Submissions

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 7 2014

Data.Gouv.Fr is an open book, and you can help write it. (Flickr/muffin9101985)

The French task force for open government data, Etalab, launched the new open data platform in December, one that is open to submissions from anyone. This marks “a world first for a government open data portal,” write Rayna Stamboliyska and Pierre Chrzanowski, of Open Knowledge Foundation France.

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SimCity? More Like Office Pro for Cities

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, December 16 2013

Screenshot from the Microsoft CityNext informational video.

Last month, Microsoft India launched Microsoft CityNext. CityNext is an initiative in which city residents and government officials alike use technology to improve and grow their city. One blogger called it the “Real SimCity for India.” One of the biggest challenges on India's plate right now is how to update aging infrastructure to cope with expected city growth in the next two decades.

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Buenos Aires, A Pocket of Civic Innovation in Argentina

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, December 10 2013

Last week, Buenos Aires' Open Government launched an interactive timeline of its 100-year-old subway sytem (Credit: Screenshot)

In only a few years, the government, civil society and media in Buenos Aires have actively embraced open data. The Buenos Aires city government has been publishing data under a creative commons license and encouraging civic innovation through hackathons. NGOs have launched a number of tech-driven tools and Argentina's second largest newspaper, La Nación, has published several hard-hitting data journalism projects. The result is a fledgling but flourishing open data culture in Buenos Aires, in a country that has not yet adopted a freedom of information law. Read More

WeGov

In Ottawa, Open Data App Competition Mysteriously Disappears

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, December 4 2013

Traffic jam (Flickr/MSVG)

Shortly after the city of Ottawa released their new smartphone traffic navigation app in mid-November, the negative reviews started to pour in: users reported bugs logging in and bemoaned a lack of features. It was a disappointing product all around, but especially so when one considered that it cost the city roughly $95,000. Then the Ottawa Citizen revealed that the city had considered sponsoring an open data competition, but ultimately chose to give the massive contract to a Toronto company.

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WeGov

Putting the International Spotlight on Killer Robots

BY Carola Frediani | Tuesday, December 3 2013

Campaigning in London to create a worldwide ban on killer robots (image: Stop Killer Robots/flickr)

Imagine an unmanned robot surveying enemy land and deciding, based on algorithms rather than human control, when it should and shouldn't drop a bomb or release a cascade of bullets. These "killer robots," once a topic restricted to an elite group of scientists, military analysts and visionary science writers has now reached a global audience through the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots, a movement that, very strikingly, seeks to preemptively ban them. Most weapons bans are reactive, taking place after it has exacted a massive toll. Read More

WeGov

Egyptian Authorities Extend Detainment of Prominent Activist and Blogger

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, December 2 2013

Alaa Abd El Fattah speaking at the 2011 Personal Democracy Forum

On the night of November 28, well-known Egyptian blogger and activist Alaa Abd El Fattah was arrested by Egyptian security forces for his involvement in a demonstration against a new law meant to repress political protests. Fattah and fellow activist Ahmad Maher were arrested for allegedly organizing the demonstration without the requisite three day advance notice to the Interior Ministry, a stipulation of the new law they were protesting. On December 1, a prosecutor ordered the release of Ahmed Maher, but renewed Alaa Abd El Fattah's detention for 15 days.

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Philippines Gov't Launches Portal To Transparently Handle Foreign Aid

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, November 25 2013

Hygiene kits and water in the Philippines (Flickr/U.S. Embassy in Manila)

Foreign funds are flooding into the Philippines in the wake of Super-typhoon Haiyan, known in the Philippines as Yolanda. Three days ago the World Bank increased its aid package to nearly US$1 billion. The Asian Development Bank will provide up to US$523 million in assistance. To ensure the funds are used in a responsible manner, the Philippines Department of Budget and Management launched the Foreign Aid Transparency Hub, or FAiTH.

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