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WeGov

Can Data Solve Africa's Food Problem?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, October 16 2013

Farm in Malawi (Wikipedia)

Africa is not living up to its agricultural potential. Less than a quarter of arable land in sub-Saharan Africa is being cultivated, while more than 190 million people in that region live chronically undernourished. The region is woefully less mechanized than the rest of the world, and problems like Aflatoxins impede trade, costing Africa more than $450 million in lost profits. Solving these problems requires investing in equipment and infrastructure, but often farmers cannot get the necessary bank loans because a lack of agriculture data prevents lenders from determining risk.

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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

Three Things Latin America is Learning About Civic Technology

BY Susannah Vila | Wednesday, July 3 2013

Aerial view of Lima, Peru (flickr/NeoKat)

Look closely at any recent wave of street protests and you’re likely to find a group of “civic technologists” trying to find news ways for citizens to participate in the public sector. These are the type of people that came together last week in Uruguay for Latin America’s first “unconference” on open government. Roughly 60 civic technologists talked for two days about their shared challenges and emerging best practices in using technology to engage citizens. Read More

WeGov

The Future of Development Includes a Data Revolution, UN Panel Says

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, June 10 2013

Grassroots data collection should play an increasing role to meet global development goals, according to a recently released United Nations report. Read More

What Will Campaigns of the Future Do With Their Data? Before Rootscamp, Some Hints

BY Nick Judd | Thursday, November 29 2012

In 2016, will there be ethical turns on the data-paved path to victory? Photo: Steve Bott

Most people who volunteered through Dashboard, the Obama campaign's online organizing platform, went on to volunteer through a field office, Obama for America Director of Digital Organizing Betsy Hoover said today. Speaking with reporters at a lunch event organized by New Organizing Institute, Hoover explained — as has been previously reported but not quite put in such clear terms — that Dashboard was meant to be a place for field organizers to identify people who might be persuaded to take action offline as well as online. Her remarks come the morning after an email to supporters from Jeremy Bird, OfA's organizing director, that explained a majority of volunteers on the campaign chose to do so from a field office, while "many" used Dashboard or other online tools instead. Read More

Presidential Campaign 2012, By the Numbers

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, November 26 2012

While not all of the numbers are in yet, we thought it would be useful to put in one place all the relevant data currently available about online and offline engagement by the Barack Obama and Mitt Romney campaigns. Some of these factoids are essentially unverifiable, but represent the claims being made by the campaigns in press reports. Others are drawn from available social network profiles and/or contemporaneous Google searches. Read More

WeGov

With Text Messages, Saving Lives Through Timely Words

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, August 2 2012

Sometimes all it takes to save lives is the right words at the right time. That's what researchers are finding as they explore two projects to use text messages in an effort to influence people's behavior. Early intervention specialist Patrick Meier describes how this knowledge was used in conflict resolution — specifically in a project called CeaseFire Chicago, which reduced dramatically the number of shootings in the city's marginalized neighborhoods. Now a Kenyan NGO is employing the same methodology to reduce conflict in the slums of Nairobi. And this is all based on earlier work that a World Health Organization found used text messaging to improve treatment results for patients with HIV in Kenya. Read More

Dems Debate Whose Campaign Tools to Trust: NGP VAN or NationBuilder

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, August 1 2012

As Democratic campaigners search for the best tools to track voters and voter contacts, some of them are looking at working with their voter data in a platform from the upstart nonpartisan firm NationBuilder instead of with software from NGP VAN, which many Democrats have used for years. And two of those candidates have received a strong message from their state Democratic Party organizations: Stick with the tools we’re already using. Read More

WeGov

Mapping Technology Allows NGOs to Coordinate Disaster Relief in West Africa

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, July 26 2012

Screenshot from SahelResponse website

In a textbook example of how technology can be used to coordinate crisis management, SahelResponse has created a map that helps NGOs coordinate food relief in the drought-and-conflict -afflicted Sahel region of West Africa. Read More

NGP VAN Releases Utility for Supporters to Turn Facebook Friends Into Voters

BY Miranda Neubauer | Tuesday, July 24 2012

NGP VAN has released a new tool built to allow a candidate's supporters contact the likely voters that they find among their Facebook friends. The new tool is based on an earlier one that the company tested out in fall 2011 during the battle in Ohio over public sector unions, said Stuart Trevelyan, NGP VAN's CEO. The updated platform with a new interface allows users to not just engage their friends with virtual phone banks, but also with e-mails, social sharing and e-postcards, he said, and integrates it with gamification options like points and badges. Read More

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NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

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Tweets2Rue Helps Homeless to Help Themselves Through Twitter

While most solutions to homelessness focus on addressing physical needs -- a roof over the head and food to eat -- one initiative in France known as Tweets2Rue knows that for the homeless, a house is still not a home, so to speak: the homeless are often entrenched in a viscous cycle of social isolation that keeps them invisible and powerless. GO

Oakland's Sudo Mesh Looks to Counter Censorship and Digital Divide With a Mesh Network

In Oakland, a city with deep roots in radical activism and a growing tech scene at odds with the hyper-capital-driven Silicon Valley, those at the Sudo Room hackerspace believe that the solution to a wide range of problems, from censorship to the digital divide, is a mesh net, a type of decentralized network that is resilient to censorship and disruption and can also bring connectivity to poor communities.

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