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WeGov

Piggybacking on Corporations to Distribute Humanitarian Aid

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, November 6 2013

The ubiquitous Coca-Cola logo (Wikipedia)

Why is it that you can by a Coke nearly everywhere in the world, even in the most remote developing country, but in many of those same locations one in nine children die from preventable illnesses like dehydration from diarrhea before their fifth birthday? That was what the founders of the organization ColaLife wondered when they came up with the idea for Kit Yamoyo, an anti-dehydration kit that piggybacks on existing Coca-Cola distribution networks to get the solution to those in need.

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WeGov

The World Bank's Lo-Tech Open Data Experiment

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, October 30 2013

Although the open data movement is associated with the Internet and tech-savvy types, an estimated 65 percent of the world's population remains entirely offline. As part of their ongoing push to open up development data, the World Bank has tested initiatives in remote communities to see how open data could be used offline. They wanted to put the assumption that open data is too difficult to understand (especially without the advantage of computer literacy) to the test.

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WeGov

"Dumbphones" To Get A Bit Smarter With Wikipedia Zero

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, October 28 2013

Times have been tough for Wikipedia. Earlier in October the Wikimedia Foundation disabled a ring of more than 250 fake accounts used by a public relations firm to write and edit company pages. The scandal has prompted at least one writer to wonder if Wikipedia is getting worse. Other have pointed to the fact that there are 20,000 fewer active contributing editors now than in 2007, and blame the “crushing bureaucracy” and “abrasive atmosphere” created by the current collective, which is 90 percent male. In spite of the recent bad press, the beleaguered site has announced a new pilot program called Wikipedia Zero, which will provide access to 70 million new users without computers, smartphones or data plans.

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WeGov

Why The Remarkably Similar Circumvention Tools uProxy and Lantern Are Not Overkill

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, October 24 2013

Night and day: two radically different ways of describing remarkably similar tools

Not all anti-censorship tools were created equal. And that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Take uProxy, for example, one of several new tools Google Ideas launched at their Summit meeting in New York City this week. UProxy is a browser extension that connects people in censored countries to the Internet through people in uncensored countries. Sound familiar? It should. Although seeded by Google Ideas, it was built by developers at the University of Washington and Brave New Software. That's right, Brave New Software, the same organization behind the anti-censorship tool Lantern, profiled earlier this week by techPresident, which also uses peer-to-peer (P2P) technology to circumvent Internet blocks.

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WeGov

Google Lets Crowd Help Pick Winner in Google Impact Challenge India

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, October 22 2013

You have eight more days to vote for the fan favorite project in the Google Impact Challenge. Ten Indian nonprofit organizations have been selected as finalists by Googlers and, with help from the company, have produced videos that showcase their organization and their project. The four winning organizations—one fan favorite and three selected by a panel of judges—will be announced on October 31. The winning organizations will receive a Rs 3 crore (approximately US$486,690) Global Impact Award, 10 Nexus tablets and mentoring and technical support from Google. Read More

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

Ghanaians Push For Internet Access and Data Journalism

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, October 14 2013

Ghanaian civil society organizations have banded together in a push for greater Internet access in the country. Earlier this month 30 organizations called on the government to make Internet penetration a priority. The call took place turning a workshop on Internet freedom in Ghana organized by the Media Foundation for West Africa with support from a UK-based organization, Global Partners and Associates. Ghana's Communications Minister, Dr. Edward Kofi Omane Boamah, has voiced his support for the organizations' plea.

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WeGov

A 'Farmville' to Help Kyrgyz Farmers Sell Organic Crops

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, October 8 2013

Screenshot of the virtual farm

A virtual co-operative in Kyrgyzstan in its second year is providing farmers increased financial security by splitting the inherent risks of farming with the customers. Described last year as a “real-life Farmville,” ICF Farm has dropped some of the distinctive characteristics reminiscent of the popular Facebook game, perhaps for simplicity's sake. Now, instead of renting plots or bed, customers simply place orders for the desired products. In exchange for their early investment, customers are guaranteed organic food, and do not have to worry about the changing prices of the market.

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WeGov

Making All Voices Count: Getting Governments to Respond to Citizen Feedback

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, October 2 2013

Government transparency and civic engagement are all well and good, of course, but it's only when governments respond to citizen feedback that palpable change can take place in societies. That is the driving idea behind Making All Voices Count, an initiative backed by a consortium of civil society organizations which will provide funding for projects tackling “citizen action and government responsiveness" in order to "close the feedback loop." This initiative will pack a punch: they have $45 million bucks behind them. They are soliciting the first round of proposals now, due by November 8, so we contacted director Marjan Besuijen to learn more.

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WeGov

World Bank Announces Million Dollar Open Data Initiative

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, September 20 2013

Open data gets a boost (redagainPatti/Flickr)

The use of open data for development just got a massive leg up this week, when the World Bank announced a three year open data initiative at the Open Knowledge Conference in Geneva. The Open Data Institute and the Open Knowledge Foundation join the World Bank as partners in the initiative, which has a $1.25 million dollar budget for the first year.

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