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WeGov

How the State Department Plans to Make Humanitarian Crowdmapping Mainstream

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 3 2014

Progress on the mapping of Nimule, South Sudan

The U.S. Department of State has more than 859,000 Twitter followers and more than 518,000 likes on Facebook, and they want to mobilize those million plus followers for the benefit of humanitarian causes around the world.

In early March the State Department launched MapGive, a campaign to educate the masses about crowdmapping: why it is important and how one can help. MapGive, a collaboration between the Humanitarian Information Unit (HIU) and the Office of Innovative Engagement (OIE), is one of several projects in the third round of the Presidential Innovation Fellows program designed to harness the power of crowdsourcing to improve government.

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WeGov

In Soggy UK, Is #FloodHack A Solution or a Shield?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 18 2014

Screenshot of a Youtube video depicting a flooded Worcester overtaken by swans (credit:INT/youtube)

What's that Prince William is cradling? His son Prince George? Nope—that's a sandbag. Prince William and Prince Harry pitched in to flood defense efforts Valentine's Day ahead of yet another winter storm. The storms have been so bad this season that they have earned their own BBC listicle, beginning with the October storm St Jude, which cost four people their lives, and ending with severe flooding along the Thames last week as it reached at its highest level in 60 years. On Sunday, London's technology community took a different approach to flood relief as they came together for a hackathon dubbed #FloodHack.

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WeGov

Gov'ts Hoarding Data Lose Out On Potential Revenue

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 21 2014

Screenshot of the gRoads Global Map

Open data is all the rage these days, but many governments are still reluctant to release geospatial data, perhaps because of the impulse to try and recoup some of the high costs of collecting it. However, experts say that this is stifling innovation and damming potential revenue streams.

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WeGov

New Report Highlights Digital Revolution in Disaster Response

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, November 1 2013

Hurricane Sandy (Wikipedia)

The World Disasters Report 2013, released earlier in October, evaluates the way technology can aid in disaster response. The report states that it is “essential—and inescapable” that humanitarian action become more technological but it also warns humanitarian organizations not to rely too heavily on technology because it can exclude those without access to it.

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WeGov

Can Patrick Meier's New App MicroMappers Completely Change The Way We Think About Clicktivism?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 19 2013

Patrick Meier (SHAREconference / Flickr)

Imagine 20, 30, or even 50 thousand volunteers helping a community, whether on the other side of the country or the other side of the world, in the aftermath of a disaster, and all with just a few swipes on a smartphone. Patrick Meier's new platform MicroMappers makes that possible, and anyone with an Internet connection and five minutes to spare can contribute to disaster relief.

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WeGov

How Do You Prepare For A Disaster That Could Kill More Than 300,000 People?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, September 3 2013

Aerial view of damage to Wakuya, Japan, following 2011 earthquake (U.S. Navy/Flickr)

An earthquake in the Nankai Trough, off of the southern coast of Japan's Honshu Island, could kill up to 323,000 people and cause ¥220 trillion (US$2.21 trillion) in damages. Or at least, those are the worst case scenario projections by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Disaster Prevention Council. To prepare for the potential calamity, the Japanese government is building an electronic mapping system in advance of the potential earthquake.

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WeGov

The Downsides to Crowdsourcing

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, August 26 2013

Crowdsourcing often makes its way into techPresident coverage, whether in a story about crisis mapping or election reporting. It has been a real boon for NGOs and government offices alike. Still, there are limits to the usefulness of crowdsourced information that must be acknowledged.

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WeGov

Crisis Mapping Becomes De Rigueur Tropical Storm Response in Philippines

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 21 2013

Screenshot of the Google map of the three day accumulated rainfall

When the Philippines suffered severe flooding last August, crisis responders used Twitter hashtags and a Google Doc to track calls for help and successful rescues. This year, in the wake of Tropical Storm Maring, Filipinos are using an official portal, through which anyone can submit a rescue request online or by text message which is then mapped. The same hashtags active last year are organizing the conversation this year, too: #rescuePH, #floodPH, #reliefPH and, in the event of a successful rescue, #SafeNow.

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WeGov

In the Aftermath of Major Snowstorm, Crowdmapping the Recovery Effort in Ukraine

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, March 28 2013

The crisis map at HelpKyiv [screenshot].

Last week, a state of emergency was declared in Ukraine when a freak blizzard brought down nearly a month’s worth of snowfall over just 24 hours.  The storm shut down major thoroughfares during the afternoon commute on Friday in the capital city of Kiev, and caused power outages in hundreds of municipalities in the northwest region of the country. As the government struggles to restore transportation and infrastructure, a volunteer effort is crowdmapping information on shelters and other resources for storm victims – offered, in many cases, by an informal corps of citizen aid workers.

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WeGov

How Effective was Crisis Mapping During the 2011 Japan Earthquake?

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, March 7 2013

A house floats near Sendai, Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami (Wikimedia Commons).

The March 2011 earthquake in Japan had a debilitating impact on infrastructure, and took a devastating cost in human life. Response to the disaster and the road to recovery were aided significantly by a wide range of communications systems. As in many disaster situations before and since, several crisis-mapping efforts immediately took off, filling in information gaps for survivors and providing a picture to the international community.  Two years later, how useful were these maps to disaster response?

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News Briefs

RSS Feed 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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wednesday >

Everything You Need to Know About Social Media and India's General Election

The biggest democratic election in the world to date is taking place in India from April 7 to May 14, and, for the first time in India, the results might hinge on who runs a better social media campaign. The Mumbai research firm Iris Knowledge Foundation has said that Facebook will “wield a tremendous influence” but Indian politicians are not limiting their attentions to India's most popular social media platform. In addition to virtual campaigning are initiatives to inform, educate and encourage Indians to participate in their democracy.

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