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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 thursday >

Civic Hackers Call on de Blasio to Fill Technology Vacancies

New York City technology advocates on Wednesday called on the de Blasio administration to fill vacancies in top technology policy positions, expressing some frustration at the lack of a leadership team to implement a cohesive technology strategy for the city. GO

China's Porn Purge Has Only Just Begun, And Already Sina Is Stripped of Publication License

It seems that China is taking spring cleaning pretty seriously. On April 13 they launched their most recent online purge, “Cleaning the Web 2014,” which will run until November. The goal is to rid China's Internet of pornographic text, pictures, video, and ads in order to “create a healthy cyberspace.” More than 100 websites and thousands of social media accounts have already been closed, after less than a month. Today the official Xinhua news agency reported that the authorities have stripped the Internet giant Sina (of Sina Weibo, the popular microblogging site) of its online publication license. This crackdown on porn comes on the heels of a crackdown on “rumors.” Clearly, this spring cleaning isn't about pornography, it's about censorship and control.

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wednesday >

Another Co-Opted Hashtag: #MustSeeIran

The Twitter hashtag #MustSeeIran was created to showcase Iran's architecture, landscapes, and would-be tourist destinations. It was then co-opted by activists to bring attention to human rights abuses and infringements. Now Twitter is home to two starkly different portraits of a country. GO

What Has the EU Ever Done For Us?: Countering Euroskepticism with Viral Videos and Monty Python

Ahead of the May 25 European Elections, the most intense campaigning may not be by the candidates or the political parties. Instead, some of the most passionate campaigns are more grassroots efforts focused on for a start stirring up the interest of the European electorate. GO

At NETmundial Brazil: Is "Multistakeholderism" Good for the Internet?

Today and tomorrow Brazil is hosting NETmundial, a global multi-stakeholder meeting on the future of Internet governance. GO

Brazilian President Signs Internet Bill of Rights Into Law at NetMundial

Earlier today Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff sanctioned Marco Civil, also called the Internet bill of rights, during the global Internet governance event, NetMundial, in Brazil.

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tuesday >

Ruck.us Reboots As a Candidate Digital Toolkit That's a Bit Too Like Democracy.com

Ruck.us launched with big ambitions and star appeal, hoping to crack the code on how to get millions of people to pool their political passions through their platform. When that ambition stalled, its founder Nathan Daschle--son of the former Senator--decided to pivot to offering political candidates an easy-to-use free web platform for organizing and fundraising. Now the new Ruck.us is out from stealth mode, entering a field already being served by competitors like NationBuilder, Salsa Labs and Democracy.com. And strangely enough, Ruck.us seems to want its early users to ask Democracy.com for help. GO

Armenian Legislators: You Can Be As Anonymous on the 'Net As You Like—Until You Can't

A proposed bill in Armenia would make it illegal for media outlets to include defamatory remarks by anonymous or fake sources, and require sites to remove libelous comments within 12 hours unless they identify the author.

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monday >

The Good Wife Looks for the Next Snowden and Outwits the NSA

Even as the real Edward Snowden faces questions over his motives in Russia, another side of his legacy played out for the over nine million viewers of last night's The Good Wife, which concluded its season long storyline exploring NSA surveillance. In the episode titled All Tapped Out, one young NSA worker's legal concerns lead him to becoming a whistle-blower, setting off a chain of events that allows the main character, lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies), and her husband, Illinois Governor Peter Florrick (Chris Noth), to turn the tables on the NSA using its own methods. GO

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

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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The 13 Worst Bits of Russia's Current and Maybe Future Internet Legislation

It appears that Russia is on the brink of passing still more repressive Internet regulations. A new telecommunications bill that would require popular blogs—those with 3,000 or more visits a day—to join a government registry and conform to government-mandated standards is expected to pass this week. What follows is a list of the worst bits of both proposed and existing Russian Internet law. Let us know in the comments or on Twitter if we missed anything.

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