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WeGov

Crowdscouring to Cut Traffic Congestion in Nairobi

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, April 3 2013

Crowdsourced traffic updates, at Ma3Route (screengrab).

Traffic congestion is a major issue in many large African cities, with commuters spending hours a day on clogged thoroughfares. The Kenyan capital of Nairobi is home to some of the worst traffic not only on the continent, but also in the world, with gridlock so unmoving that you can, on occasion, sleep in the middle of the road.

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WeGov

Is This the End of Iceland's Crowdsourced Constitution?

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, April 3 2013

Icelandic citizens who drafted the constitution last year. (Skrifstofa Stjórnlagaráðs / Flickr)

When Iceland faced a fiscal catastrophe in 2008, residents took to the streets with pots and pans to demand change from the government.  Leaders in the country took the spirit of the crowd to heart. In 2011, Iceland announced that it would be crowdsourcing its next constitution, an effort that ultimately resulted in a full draft bill.  Yet amid Iceland’s election season and the turmoil to determine the country’s future, the crowdsourced constitution has now been effectively scrapped. 

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WeGov

In Cameroon, a Crowdsourced Site for Local Listings

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, April 2 2013

Wasamundi.com (Screenshot).

As tech innovation continues to heat up in Africa from Ethiopia to Zambia, homegrown social enterprise has African developers and entrepreneurs delivering solutions to their communities. In the case of a crowdsourced online listing service form Cameroon, innovation is being driven by collaboration with everyday citizens.

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WeGov

Blackouts in Cambodia Spark Online Demands for Explanation

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, March 28 2013

Reports of local blackouts in Phnom Penh on the Urban Voice website. [Screengrab]

As the dry winter season interferes with hydroelectric power production in Cambodia, the capital city of Phnom Penh has been facing rolling, unpredictable blackouts.   Now, an urban mapping platform has taken up a campaign to understand when and where in the city the outages are happening, and to make the government answerable to residents who are living in the dark. 

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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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WeGov

Code of Conduct for SMS Disaster Response Presented to Mobile World Congress

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, February 26 2013

The Mobile World Congress is taking place in Barcelona this week, with mobile providers from around the world presenting strategies for proliferating and monetizing new technologies.  Yet as mobile’s reach extends far beyond the realm of the basic phone call, forming a fundamental part of the information infrastructure in developing nations, the humanitarian sector is also on display.  Yesterday, the Disaster Response Program from GSMA presented a Code of Conduct for SMS use during disaster response, hoping to address the mobile industry’s growing role in humanitarian crisis management.    

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WeGov

On Social Media, Chinese Citizens Challenge Officials to Swim in Polluted Rivers

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, February 21 2013

A riverbank in Puning, China (Wikimedia Commons).

When the smog crisis in China escalated last month, even the tight-lipped state media broke down and joined the widespread complaints across social media that the government wasn't doing enough to curb industrial pollution.  A month later, netizens are mobilizing again; and this time they are directly confronting state officials about the country’s thousands of polluted waterways.  

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WeGov

Nigerian Volunteers Google Map their Capital, Despite Some Local Skepticism

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, February 15 2013

Abuja, Nigeria on Google Maps.

Reports have been coming in from the Google Map Maker initiative that was held in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja late last month, with Nigerians celebrating the project’s potential to improve commerce, navigability, and even public safety.  Read More

WeGov

In the Digital Age, An Unmapped Place Becomes a Forgotten Place

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, February 13 2013

Today’s digital maps can showcase a world of hyperlocal data and history; as of this past month, even North Korea has been meticulously cataloged by Google Maps volunteers.  Yet while some locations maintain a robust digital presence – with Wikipedia, Google, and other geolocational initiatives reinforcing their virtual existence – blank spots on the world map can fall behind exponentially, running the risk for digital obscurity. 

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