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The Europe Roundup: Restart Romania

BY Antonella Napolitano | Thursday, November 17 2011

  • Romania | Restart Romania
    Like many post-Communist countries, Romania is having troubles promoting a modern idea of citizenship: transparency, activism and engagement are relatively new words for Romanians.

    TechSoupGlobal, a network of activists and organizations for social change, is working in the area and on these issues. A significant step has been the Restart Romania challenge, a competition of ideas to bring social change in Romania.

    Organized by TechSoup Romania and supported by a range of both Romanian and international tech organizations, the challenge aims at both "engaging citizens online and offline to discuss 'open society solutions' and of directly challenging activists and technologists to actually create such solutions".
    So far, Restart Romania has gathered more than 2000 people and 144 projects.
    Here's a list of the winning initiatives:

    • Harta zonelor despadurite (Map of deforested areas) - a map of deforestation in Romania made by analyzing satellite images.
    • Bursa Spagilor (Bribe Market) - a platform to enable citizens to report how much they paid for a public free service.
    • Cineceapromis (I know what you promised) - the platform to collect all politicians promises in times of campaigns and estimate the cost of the pledges.
    • MedAlert (NO to corruption in the health care system) - reporting corruption in the health system through a mobile app and an SMS service.
    • (Where's my lei, man?) - a platform to centralize all public financial information (public budgets, annual balance sheets) of projects with public funding.

    The challenge and the projects will be analyzed by Restart Romania's founder Chris Worman at the TechSoupGlobal blog.

     [PdF's Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry are consultants to TechSoupGlobal]

  • Slovakia | A politicians' factchecking tool

    After, a tool aimed at showing connections between companies and the government, the Slovakian activist scene is turning to factcheck politicians' claims.
    The project is called and aims to analyze what politicians say, ensuring the facts and numbers are correct and used in the right context.

    Global Voices' Jakub Górnicki interviewed Matej Hruska, the student that founded the project, who explains that the project is a very simple one: the group uses transcripts of the debates and factchecks  mainly using Google; they have tried to reach out to politicians for comments and reactions but so far have only gotten a few answers.
    Quite ironically, though, their main opportunity for visibility was given them by the mainstream media themselves "We have several opportunities to publish our findings (in fact, too many at the current time, and we don't have time to use them all) in the national media or online. The thing is that we are the first one who are doing something like this here [in Slovakia], so we have been able to attract some media attention." says Hruska.

    The idea draws inspiration from similar projects (like St.Petersburg Times' Politifact) but especially from a Slovakian blog that started to facktcheck numbers and arguments that could be found in the mainstream media regarding the Sunday's debates, popular political events in the country.

  • UK | Bloggers: press' present challenge?

    "I think the greater challenge is with bloggers." 

    Lord Hunt, the newly appointed chair of the Press Complaints Commission, interviewed by the Guardian, when asked if the major problems occurred because of the tabloids.
    The PCC is an independent self-regulatory body which deals with complaints about
    the editorial content of newspapers and magazines (and their websites).