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WeGov

Tribal Leader Uses Maptivism and Mobile to Improve Life in the Brazilian Rainforest

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, March 29 2013

Tribal children in Brazil's Amazon rainforest (credit: Ben Sutherland/Flickr)

Forty years ago, the once-isolated Surui people of the western Brazilian rainforest were suffering with the consequences of contact with modern society.  Over the past several decades, the tribe has been threatened by disease, substance abuse, and the threat of deforestation on their ancestral land.  Yet today, an advanced technological agenda is helping to revive and preserve the Surui way of life, under the leadership of a tribal chief with a long-term vision for ecological and cultural preservation.

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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

International Sanitation Hackathon Finalists Announced

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, March 27 2013

The Sanitation Hackathon website, with map indicating hacking site around the world.

Over one weekend last December, programmers in 40 cities across six continents took part in a simultaneous effort to develop tech-based solutions to sanitation problems. 1,100 participants in the World Bank-organized International Sanitation Hackathon ultimately developed 30 new apps, addressing issues from public defecation to inadequate menstruation resources to sewage disposal.  Last week the World Bank announced the top ten finalists

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WeGov

Open Academic Resources Offers Education Opportunities in Emerging Economies

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, March 18 2013

The launch of the Research Data Alliance this week could have major implications for the future of the academic community, bridging major institutions and driving collaborative innovation.  Yet the benefits of world universities opening their gates are more lateral than vertical, strengthening ties within communities that are already educationally privileged.  How do developing countries stand to benefit from open knowledge projects?

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WeGov

Mobile Health Initiatives Falling Short of a Cure

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, March 14 2013

As more and more mobile initiatives for the developing world are announced to great fanfare, a backlash has risen asking when we’re going to see concrete effects. Yesterday, the New York Times’ Fixes column turned an eye to the realm of mobile health, looking at some of the reasons why social limitations can work against mobile innovations.

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WeGov

Will Mobile Banking Empower Women, or Just Telecoms?

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, March 1 2013

The "virtuous circle" of MFS, according to GSMA's study.

In many developing economies, while men earn wages outside the household, women are often acting behind the scenes as the money managers at home.  Yet a recent study found that mobile banking and financial services, which have gotten a lot of press as solutions for bringing economic empowerment to citizens in developing nations, has largely passed over women who could be using them.  Could m-banking strengthen women’s financial practices and narrow the digital gender gap? Or will promoting it only line the pockets of telecom corporations?

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WeGov

Understanding the Global Digital Gender Gap

BY Julia Wetherell | Thursday, February 28 2013

The worldwide digital gender gap, from the ITU's World in 2013 report.

There are 200 million more men on the Internet than women, according to new figures from the International Telecommunication Union, and the gender gap is even wider in the developing world. Worldwide Internet usage by men currently stands at 1.5 billion, with women users at 1.3 billion. In developing nations, 16 percent fewer women than men are online, as opposed to 2 percent in the developed world. The figures come from the ITU's World in 2013 report on information technology use, released on day three of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona yesterday. Read More

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

How Mobile Can Hold Government Accountable for Clean Water Failures

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, February 15 2013

In India, wastewater and drinking water supplies mingle in the street (Wikimedia Commons).

National Geographic’s online series Digital Diversity is back this week with a report from the Aquaya Institute, a nonprofit research and consulting group working on public health issues in the global water crisis.   The UN may have announced last spring that 89% of the global population now has access to improved water sources, yet for thousands these sources remain unreliable, and, in many cases, still unsanitary or unsafe.  While building the infrastructure to enhance the water supply can be a long process, spreading knowledge about whether a source is drinkable is one simple solution. 

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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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