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In Brooklyn, Testing a Texting Platform That Connects Locals, Representatives & Community Leaders

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, July 14 2014

The neighborhoods in Brooklyn where Heartgov is being tested.

Civic engagement shouldn't be a one way street. In New York City, for example, you can text 311 to report something like a pot hole, but what if you wanted to start a dialogue about charter schools in your neighborhood? The information hotline wasn't built to handle conversations like that, but a new text message-based platform called HeartGov is.

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Charge of the Light Brigade: Is Sean Parker's Civic Startup Too Male and White?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, June 25 2014

Screenshot from Brigade.com's About page

Brigade, the $9 million Silicon Valley civic engagement startup backed by billionaire Sean Parker that is promoting itself as restoring voters "to the center of our democracy," got a hard whack on Twitter today after it unveiled more details about its leadership team on its nascent website. Read More

First POST: Ducks

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, June 9 2014

Hillary Clinton's emerging presidential campaign; the Reset the Net campaign gains traction; why buying fake Twitter followers may work; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

How Much Influence Did Social Media Have On India's Election?

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, May 21 2014

Selfie + inked finger = "Fingie" (credit: @SirPareshRawal/Twitter)

India's 2014 election is being called a #TwitterElection because it is the largest democratic election in the world to date and so much of it took place online. While there seems to be a number of correlations between the online activities and victories of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which swept up 427 seats in India's Lok Sabha or lower parliament, and of Narendra Modi, India's new prime minister, just how much of their success can be attributed to their social media savviness? Read More

WeGov

PoplusCon: Lowering the Tech Barriers for Civic Startups

BY Eilís O'Neill | Friday, May 2 2014

Listening to the opening speeches at PoplusCon (credit: Eilis O'Neill)

Almost 100 civic coders and activists from 27 countries came together from April 29 to 30, in Santiago, Chile for PoplusCon where participants discussed how to create easy-to-use tools, what they call Poplus components, that allow civil society to create legislative monitoring websites. TechPresident reports on the conference from Santiago, Chile. Read More

WeGov

The Expanding Reach of China's Crowdsourced Environmental Monitoring Site, Danger Maps

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, April 21 2014

Last week billionaire businessman Jack Ma, founder of the e-commerce company Alibaba, appealed to his “500 million-strong army” of consumers to help monitor water quality in China. Inexpensive testing kits sold through his company can be used to measure pH, phosphates, ammonia, and heavy metal levels, and then the data can be uploaded via smartphone to the environmental monitoring site Danger Maps. Although the initiative will push the Chinese authorities' tolerance for civic engagement and activism, Ethan Zuckerman has high hopes for “monitorial citizenship” in China.

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WeGov

The People's "Marsad" for the Tunisian Parliament

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, April 18 2014

Parliament in session (credit: Al Bawsala)

In Arabic, "marsad" means observatory, but in Tunisia citizens also know it as the name of the interactive website, created by activist Amira Yahyaoui, that tracks and provides updates on all the activities of the Tunisian Parliament, the National Constituent Assembly. The nonpartisan team behind Marsad sits in all of the Assembly's sessions and posts meeting minutes and discussions of bills, as well as a record of who votes for each bill. With no other resource like it being provided by the government, and an inventory now of 519 documents, Marsad has become an essential tool in Tunisia for journalists, activists and even Members of Parliament. Read More

WeGov

Emerging Citizen Journalists Live Report on the Afghan Elections

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, April 7 2014

Waiting to vote (credit: Ahmad Shuja)

Eileen Guo, an American entrepreneur in Afghanistan, tells techPresident she often gets asked why she is launching an online citizen journalism project in a county with only a 5 percent Internet penetration rate. Saturday's election, slated to yield one of the country's first democratic transitions to power, provides a strong case in point: the Independent Election Commission has estimated that an overwhelming 7 million turned up at the polls and its chairman Yusuf Nuristani has called it a "sign of the political maturity of the people." That maturity is also revealing itself in Afghanistan's media and online community, which Guo is trying to channel into a citizen journalism project, one that she hopes will counter mainstream media's often one-sided war-torn portrayal of Afghanistan as well as provide a place for civic engagement. Read More

WeGov

Open Data Gives New Lease of Life for Civil Society in the South Caucasus

BY Onnik James Krikorian | Thursday, April 3 2014

Eric Barrett, Executive Director of Jumpstart Georgia at the Central Open Data Hackathon in Warsaw (Onnik James Krikorian)

Two weeks ago, on March 21, 2014, the Georgian chapter of leading international anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International called on the country’s citizens to turn off their mobile phones for one hour to protest government surveillance. The action came in the wake of revelations that the previous authorities were intercepting phone calls, text messages, and internet traffic on a systematic basis. The European Union calls the situation that still exists today under a new government, "a jungle of misuse of the possibilities of technology to record almost everything." Yet, despite concerns regarding the amount of data collected on citizens in the former Soviet republic, large online databases of government information might actually be giving the media and civil society in Georgia a new lease of life in fighting corruption and engaging citizens. Read More

WeGov

Dude, Where's My Cow? The App.

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, March 27 2014

If you live in Jamaica, losing a cow is serious business. Now, there's an app for that. (siwild/flickr)

About six months ago, we wrote about a new initiative in Jamaica that sought to address agricultural and livestock theft, a problem that has put a $50 million plus yearly dent in the country's economy. At that time, the civic tech nonprofit, Slashroots, had partnered with the Mona School of Business & Management at the University of the West Indies to create a new fellowship program called Code for the Caribbean; similar to Code for America, it pairs talented developers with government agencies to create tailored apps that agencies actually need. Now, that program has wrapped up and the fellows have collaborated with Jamaica's Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) to create two apps: one that allows police officers to use SMS to verify farmers' identities (and their produce) at specific roadside checkpoints and another that acts as an electronic billboard of produce stock and prices in order to fill an information gap that has often led either to agricultural overproduction or underproduction. Read More