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WeGov

At "Peak Open," Open Government Partnership Faces Default States of Closed

BY Alex Howard | Wednesday, November 6 2013

Incoming civil society chair of the OGP, Rakesh Rajani, far left (Photo: Alex Howard)

With the second annual Open Government Partnership summit now concluded, one longtime observer of the "open government" movement, Alex Howard, offers his overview of its achievements, shortcomings and challenges ahead. Read More

WeGov

Tell President Kenyatta You Paid A Bribe

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, October 31 2013

125,584,332 Kenyan shillings have been paid in bribes since the end of 2011 (Wikipedia)

As Kenya continues to struggle with everyday corruption, President Kenyatta has launched a platform through which citizens can report incidents of bribery directly to his administration. Similar platforms, like I Paid A Bribe and Not In My Country, which targets corruption in the school system, already exist, but bribery is so systemic that only seven out of 100 Kenyans will report specific instances, according to Transparency International's most recent East African Bribery Index. It remains to be seen if President Kenyatta's attention to the problem will inspire more participation and eventually lead to reform and change.

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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

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

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

Ushahidi Responds To Westgate With Two New Emergency Response Tools

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 30 2013

Once again, violence has compelled the Kenyan organization Ushahidi to build new tools for disasters and emergencies, natural or otherwise. Ushahidi launched their popular mapping platform in 2008 so that people could track reports of post-election violence. Since then, they have also launched SwiftRiver and Crowdmap, and have built a backup Internet generator called BRCK. The Westgate Mall attack, so close to their home base, in a way sent them back to their roots: figuring out how to respond best to, and mitigate the worst effects of, violence.

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First POST: Bad Boys

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, September 26 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Understanding the Internet's role in the ongoing Republican crack-up; Cory Booker's Twitter flirtations; how email has changed your workplace for the better; and much, much more. Read More

WeGov

The Role of Technology in the Aftermath of Westgate

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 25 2013

An image that spread on social media networks during the Westgate attack (ILRI/Flickr)

“Are all our questions actually going to be answered?” That is the question of questions regarding the Westgate Mall, one of many that Kenyan citizens have posed to their government. Many have voiced their frustration and concern on Twitter. Altogether, they have at least 85 pressing questions which have been aggregated in a crowdsourced Google doc. There might have been more, but the administrator of the doc decided that the 85 questions were “adequate” and closed the doc. One of the most pressing unanswered questions in what the Christian Science Monitor called a “Kenya info blackout” is “Where are the hostages?”

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WeGov

The Western Voices of al-Shabaab's Twitter Account

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, September 24 2013

Screenshot of al-Shabaab's latest Twitter account

On Saturday, after the al-Shabaab showered an upscale mall in Nairobi, Kenya with grenades and bullets from automatic weapons, killing at least 68 people, a chilling note appeared on their Twitter account: “What Kenyans are witnessing at #Westgate is retributive justice for crimes committed by their military, albeit largely minuscule in nature.” Both their English language and Arabic accounts were subsequently shut down the next day but is back again today under a new handle. Read More

First POST: Longform

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 16 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Steven Johnson responds to Henry Farrell's critique of the "Tech Intellectuals"; Twitter's Evan Williams lays out his vision of the future of media; Freshman Rep. Justin Amash gets some respect for his NSA fight; and much, much more. Read More