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WeGov

An Ushahidi-Powered Platform Shows "Free" Healthcare In India Comes With Hidden Costs

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 18 2014

Mother and child, India. (Thessaly La Force/Flickr)

Two and a half years after a pilot program called Mera Swasthya Meri Aawaz (My Health, My Voice) was launched to record and document the informal fees that plague India's “free” maternal health services in Uttar Pradesh, hundreds of reports have been collected and mapped. The Indian human rights organization Sahayog, which helped launched the initiative, tells techPresident that around 40 public health facilities in two Uttar Pradesh districts have been connected to informal fees, a kind of low-level corruption.

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WeGov

Ushahidi's CrisisNet Aims to Provide Usable Crisis Data "Within Seconds"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, June 10 2014

Screenshot: Ushahidi.com

Open source technology-maker Ushahidi only made their new crisis data tool public this week, but there are already several neat examples of potential uses, like this map of social media-reported violence in Syria and an analysis of the Twitter protests of the 2014 World Cup. Co-founder Chris Albon describes CrisisNet as a “crisis data firehose” that automates time consuming processes like cleaning and formatting data streams to make it easier and much faster for crisis responders to make use of crowdsourced information.

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WeGov

Guatemala Wants Citizens to Pick Up Slack on Sky High Crime Rates

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, May 12 2014

To say Guatemala struggles to curb crime rates would be an understatement. Per the official numbers, only two percent of crimes are prosecuted (meaning a whopping 98 percent are not, not at all). Could a new citizen-driven crime reporting tool help change that?

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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

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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Digital Diplomacy: Russian and Ukrainian Cartographers Find Common Ground On OpenStreetMap

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, April 2 2014

Screenshot of the contentious bit of land as seen in OpenStreetMap 4/2/14

Russia “officially” annexed Crimea from Ukraine on March 21, but is Crimea really Russian now? That depends, in part, on whose map you look at. Crowdsourced sites, like Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap, have struggled alongside geography establishments to come to a consensus, even if that consensus is, for now, to do nothing.

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WeGov

Anyone Anywhere (with Internet) Can Look for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, March 11 2014

Screenshot of the current Tomnod instructions page

This morning I helped look for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, and you can, too. (The website seems to be back on its feet after a crash following a surge of visitors.)

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WeGov

Can the Internet Help Build Democracy in Tunisia?

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, March 4 2014

The website of the NGO I WATCH (screenshot)

As January 26, 2014 approached, the day Tunisia's National Constituent Assembly would vote on passing a Constitution that had been snarled in debate for two years, rather than feel relief, activist Achref Aouadi tells techPresident he had grown dismayed after his failed attempts to create an online platform that would allow Tunisian citizens to debate, discuss and vote on the provisions of the draft Constitution. A day before the vote, he had not yet found a viable platform nor the funds for a developer. A crucial opportunity would be lost for stirring civic participation, which he sees as a vital step in the building of Tunisia’s democracy. Then, an online search turned the tide in Aouadi’s favor. Read More

WeGov

Safecast Logs its 15 Millionth Crowdsourced Data Point for Radiation Mapping

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, February 10 2014

In the wake of the 2011 earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster that followed, residents of Japan needed a reliable source of information about radiation levels. Unfortunately, information was either unavailable or withheld from the public. The need for data compelled concerned citizens to create their own, and the need to take their own radiation readings compelled them to make their own Geiger counters. Safecast was born. Last month the global project logged their 15 millionth data point, with no sign of slowing down soon.

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WeGov

Citizens Use Technology to Fight Crime in Guyana

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, January 29 2014

Screen shot of Guyana Crime Reports

With mapping technology and social media platforms at your fingertips, you no longer need to be bitten by a radioactive spider to take crime fighting into your own hands. Case in point: Guyana Crime Reports, which marries data journalism, mapping and crowdsourcing to make a powerful tool for citizen crime fighting.

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