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WeGov

Dude, Where's My Cow? There May Be An App For That

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, October 18 2013

siwild/flickr

Sometimes the thieves come in large trucks armed with guns and take what they like in broad daylight. Sometimes they slink across the fields in the middle of the night for their plunder. But the results are the same: the loss of crops and in many cases, cows, that has cost farmers US$52 million a year in Jamaica alone. These thefts – known as praedial larceny – are endemic across the Caribbean region. Read More

WeGov

Move Over Skype. For a More Secure Chat, There’s OStel.

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, October 7 2013

sparktography/flickr

As Edward Snowden’s leaks have revealed, none of our digital devices are truly safe from prying eyes, including Skype. As of February 2011, the U.S. government has had the capacity to monitor Skype calls and in July of this year, several newspapers exposed the level of cooperation Skype has had with the government in monitoring calls; the NSA apparently tripled its level of monitoring since July of last year, nine months after Microsoft bought the application. There is now a Skype alternative called OStel, offered by the Guardian Project, an organization that creates secure, open-source communications software that often assists those living under censorship. Read More

Oakland Neighbors Crowdfunding Private Security

BY Sam Roudman | Friday, October 4 2013

College Ave in Rockridge, Oakland; (c) David Corby 2006

Oakland California’s Rockridge neighborhood has generally been better known for its fresh pasta and pricey Craftsman homes than for brazen daylight robberies. But that changed last month when three men held up a line of drivers waiting at the Rockridge BART station to pick up passengers in order to use the carpool lane on their morning commute. What’s a violated yet technologically savvy community to do? In Rockridge, the answer has been to crowdfund private security services, with the aim of compensating for an understaffed police department in the city with the highest robbery rate in America. Read More

WeGov

7 Tactics for Your Civic App That You Can Learn From Twitter and Airbnb

BY Susannah Vila | Wednesday, October 2 2013

If you are looking to improve your civic app, don't be afraid to look at non-civic models like Twitter (petesimon/flickr)

It may sound obvious, but without users, it’s not possible for software to do much of anything - let alone facilitate social change. As we explored in our last post, a few organizations and individuals have started hosting ongoing conversations among technologists and people who can use data and applications to address civic issues. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. Engaging the right people at the right time requires a variety of different tactics. Many of these tactics can be borrowed from user acquisition teams at non-civic applications like Yelp, Airbnb, or Dropbox. Read More

WeGov

The Hunt for Open Data in China

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, September 11 2013

No data in this stack of hay. (Perry McKenna/flickr)

Like water and oil, ‘open data’ and ‘China’ that take a bit of engineering if you want them to mix. Stories like those of human rights advocate Xu Zhiyong, arrested for rallying citizens to demand public disclosure of their officials’ wealth, are more the norm. But rather than ask for information, a group of young techies are going out and finding it, despite the challenges in its use and the risks of digging too deep. Read More

Citizinvestor Reframes its Civic Crowdfunding Strategy

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, September 5 2013

Citizinvestor's reframed attempt to gather public ideas

Civic engagement isn’t just about soliciting responses from citizens, it’s about framing them: the better the frame, the greater the response. It can be a subtle lesson, but it is one that recently led civic crowdfunding platform Citizinvestor to alter the way in which it solicits potential projects from the public. Apparently, people are more apt to say they like an idea than to sign their names to a petition. Read More

Is Sharing Political? Peers.org Thinks So

BY Sam Roudman | Wednesday, August 28 2013

Some vegetable sharers Peers will mold into a coalition. Credit: Peers.org

According to some, the sharing economy is more than technological advancements that allow the crowdfunding of a college roommate’s short film or a single dad to make extra cash driving revelers on the cab poor streets of San Francisco. It’s a movement. But is a common economic practice grounds for a political coalition? Peers, a new organization looking to advocate for individuals who benefit from the sharing economy, is betting yes. Read More

WeGov

Helsinki App Challenge Provides Developers With Hand Holding and Advice

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, August 12 2013

Courtesy: DotOpen

Already considered one of the least corrupt countries in the world, Finland continues to lead by example in open data and government transparency. An initiative in Helsinki, sponsored by organizations like Apps4Finland and Helsinki Loves Developers, encourages app developers to take advantage of the treasure trove of open data available.

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New Study Looks Under Hood of Boston's New Urban Mechanics

BY Sam Roudman | Friday, August 9 2013

Boston’s office of New Urban Mechanics is a model for other cities looking to provide more and better service with less cash. By taking advantage of mobile technologies, bridging long siloed departments, and engaging civic minded tech entrepreneurs and academics, the department, under the direction of Mayor Thomas Menino has had its hand in an array of projects in the past years, from figuring out how to repurpose 19th century fire boxes for the digital age, to testing online games to inform city planning. A list of projects doesn’t really get at what actually makes New Urban Mechanics tick but a new case study from Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society just might. Read More

WeGov

Citizens Create Open Data Tools to Drive Transparency in Hong Kong

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, August 8 2013

The Legislative Council Building in Hong Kong (source: Martin Schiele/flickr)

Edward Snowden might have thought otherwise, but Hong Kong residents find their city-state pretty opaque when it comes to access to information about their own government's activities. A group of open data activists are trying to change that, kicking off several initiatives and creating new tools. Read More