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In San Francisco, Accelerating a "Civic Technology" Industry

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, May 16 2013

Code for America's San Francisco headquarters. Photo: mk30 / Flickr

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: What does "civic technology" look like as a new subset of the software industry — a collection of startups that challenges existing heavyweights in government technology, or creates completely different tools? The Code for America Accelerator program invests seed money, time, and free food into a few new companies to find out. It's accepting applicants for its second year of operation. First-year participants tell Sam Roudman why they feel their year in Code for America's San Francisco headquarters was time well spent. Read More

Three Tech Initiatives for Combating the Spread of Malaria

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, May 1 2013

Mosquito via Wikipedia

Although prevention and control measures have led to a reduction in mortality rates from malaria by 25 percent since 2000, 3.3 billion people are still at risk for infection, according to the World Health Organization. The World Health Assembly’s goal is to reduce malaria case incidence rates by 75 percent (relative to the rates in 2000) by 2015. There are a number of new products or tools that help eliminate the spread of malaria, from tea to soap, but these are the top tech-based innovations:

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Some Knight News Challenge Semifinalists Sound Awfully Familiar

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, April 3 2013

How fitting for people so concerned with the future of news to want to spend so much money on the problems of the future rather than those of the present. Read More

With Sunlight and MySociety Grants, Google.org Signals Interest in Civic Technology

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, January 16 2013

Google.org announced today that it would be providing $3.7 million in funding to the Sunlight Foundation* and mySociety for their work on technological solutions for civic innovation. Read More

What Philadelphia's New "Director of Civic Technology" Is There to Do

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, January 15 2013

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's administration continues its own experiment in building a tech-savvy City Hall by appointing a "director of civic technology." Tim Wisniewski, 24, will move to the role from a position as assistant city managing director. He has been part of the city government since January 2012, and served prior to that as the executive director of a nonprofit working to improve commerce in the business corridor of a low-income neighborhood. While working for the city, he was the project manager on development of a mobile application for the city's 311 non-emergency services system. Read More

Civic Technologists Get Plaudits in GovTech's "Doers, Dreamers and Drivers" Awards

BY Raphael Majma | Thursday, March 1 2012

The magazine Government Technology has awarded 25 individuals and groups as a part of their Top 25 Doers, Dreamers, and Drivers in Public Sector Innovation program. The magazine releases an annual issue that recognizes “people who cut through the public sector's infamous barriers to innovation - tight budgets, organizational inertia, politics as usual, etc. - to reshape government operations for the better.” This year’s list includes a few folks that may be familiar to techPresident readers, including Jennifer Pahlka, the founder and executive director of Code for America, Bryan Sivak, Maryland's chief innovation officer, and Chicago’s social media director, Kevin Hauswirth, John Tolva, its chief technology officer, and Brett Goldstein, its chief data officer. Read More

With Plan for Prize, TED Promises Cash Awards to Boost Civic Life

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, March 1 2012

This year's TED Prize is going to the concept of "The City 2.0," the vision of a city of the future, that includes a new online platform to crowdsource ideas for improving the 21st century city. To that end, TED plans to distribute the usual $100,000 prize money as ten grants of $10,000 to local projects, all of which will be announced at the TED Global conference in June. According to Fast Company's Co.Exist, TED will announce the details of the grant awarding process in the coming months, Read More

Navigating New York's "Road Map for the Digital City," One Year In

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, February 8 2012

In May 2011, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg revealed a "Road Map for the Digital City," a plan to use technology to make city government more and participatory, and to leverage the city's tech sector for economic and civic gains.

New York City Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne will join our editorial director, Micah Sifry, on a conference call this Friday afternoon to discuss the progress on that road map so far. The call is free and open to anyone to join. You can sign up here.

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New York City Calls for 'Brilliant' Tech Minds to Spur Voter Engagement

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, May 11 2011

The New York City Campiagn Finance Board announced the first four members of the new Voter Assistance Advisory Committee, a nine-member board of political appointees residing at CFB that is mandated in the City Charter ... Read More

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Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

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The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

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tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

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Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

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monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

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friday >

In Google Hangout, NYC Mayor de Blasio Talks Tech and Outer Borough Potential

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio followed the lead of President Obama and New York City Council member Ben Kallos Friday by participating in a Google Hangout to help mark his first 100 days in office, in which the conversation focused on expanding access to technology opportunities through education and ensuring that the needs of the so-called "outer boroughs" aren't overlooked. GO

thursday >

In Pakistan, A Hypocritical Gov't Ignores Calls To End YouTube Ban

YouTube has been blocked in Pakistan by executive order since September 2012, after the “blasphemous” video Innocence of Muslims started riots in the Middle East. Since then, civil society organizations and Internet rights advocacy groups like Bolo Bhi and Bytes for All have been working to lift the ban. Last August the return of YouTube seemed imminent—the then-new IT Minister Anusha Rehman spoke optimistically and her party, which had won the majority a few months before, was said to be “seriously contemplating” ending the ban. And yet since then, Rehman and her party, the conservative Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N), have done everything in their power to maintain the status quo.

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The #NotABugSplat Campaign Aims to Give Drone Operators Pause Before They Strike

In the #NotABugSplat campaign that launched this week, a group of American, French and Pakistani artists sought to raise awareness of the effects of drone strikes by placing a field-sized image of a young girl, orphaned when a drone strike killed her family, in a heavily targeted region of Pakistan’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province. Its giant size is visible to those who operate drone strikes as well as in satellite imagery. GO

Boston and Cambridge Move Towards More Open Data

The Boston City Council is now considering an ordinance which would require Boston city agencies and departments to make government data available online using open standards. Boston City Councilor At Large Michelle Wu, who introduced the legislation Wednesday, officially announced her proposal Monday, the same day Boston Mayor Martin Walsh issued an executive order establishing an open data policy under which all city departments are directed to publish appropriate data sets under established accessibility, API and format standards. GO

YouTube Still Blocked In Turkey, Even After Courts Rule It Violates Human Rights, Infringes on Free Speech

Reuters reports that even after a Turkish court ruled to lift the ban on YouTube, Turkey's telecommunications companies continue to block the video sharing site.

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