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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

China Gets an Apology from Apple

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, April 1 2013

Apple CEO Tim Cook's Chinese-language apology to consumers (screengrab).

In response to an aggressive Chinese media campaign that denounced their iPhone warranty policy last month, Apple has issued an apology to consumers.  Official state broadcasts reported that Chinese customers seeking to replace damaged phones were given second-hand devices, a practice that does not exist in European or American markets. 

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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

North Korea Revokes 3G Internet Service for Foreign Visitors

BY Julia Wetherell | Wednesday, March 27 2013

A Koryo Tours Manager took a shot of Pyongyang on Instagram on March 6. Source.

North Korea's brief foray into 3G Internet service, exclusively intended for tourists, has ended as of this week. A relaxation of strict prohibitions against mobile devices for foreign visitors in this winter was followed by the opening of the country’s data network in February. Officials in the country have now announced they will terminate the service, as tensions escalate on the Korean peninsula. Read More

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

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

Low Price Smartphones Dominate the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

BY Julia Wetherell | Monday, February 25 2013

The 2013 Mobile World Congress kicks off in Barcelona today, with representatives from over two hundred countries congregating to see what the next year will bring in apps, hardware, and initiatives.  With mobile firmly in place as primary communication platform of the developing world, the focus now turns to bringing next-generation technologies into the hands of these millions of subscribers, by creating cheaper smartphones. 

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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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