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WeGov

Build Your Own Disaster Relief Drone

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, June 26 2013

The OpenRelief Drone (carrierdetect/Flickr)

Anyone with a thousand bucks and some engineering know-how can now build their very own drone. Unlike those controversial ones used in the “drone war,” these are made for disaster relief.

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WeGov

Chilean Anti-Corruption Resource: A Crowdsourced Database of Social and Political Connections

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, May 17 2013

Screenshot from the Esto es Poderopedia video via Vimeo

In countries where a small minority of social circles have a majority of the political and economic power, personal relationships can affect major decision-making, a serious concern of anti-corruption activists. A new web platform stores personal profiles of key players in Chilean business and politics, complete with biographies and personal and professional connections through family, education, social circles, employers and coworkers, to make tracking social relationships and conflict-of-interest easier. Called Poderopedia (from the Spanish word for power), the project sounds kind of like LinkedIn, but the creation and management of profiles is being crowdsourced out to journalists, activists and concerned citizens.

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WeGov

Verboice: New Tool for Social Outreach in Cambodia

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, April 18 2013

Phnom Penh, Cambodia (Milei.vencel)

Social outreach organizations including the Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia and Better Factories Cambodia have begun using Verboice to reach communities otherwise cut off by literacy or technological barriers – lack of mobile support of local dialects, for example. It has been used to give women and children on demand health information, to increase access to reproductive and sexual health services, and to monitor working conditions in garment factories.

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WeGov

How Open Is China's Homegrown "Open-Source" Initiative?

BY David Eaves | Friday, March 29 2013

China is not the first emerging power to see open source as a way to enhance its autonomy and diminish the leverage of foreign stakeholders. Brazil has which began to aggressively invest in and implement open source solutions around 2003, also saw it as a strategic choice. Yes, reducing software costs of government played a role, but it too wanted to boost the develop its IT sector - which it sees as being strategically important - as well as reduce its dependency on American software companies. The question of course, is how effective will these strategies be? Read More

How A Canadian School District Is Building Its Own Open-Source Software

BY Sam Roudman | Wednesday, March 6 2013

Archaic education technology. Photo: roger4336 / Flickr

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: With around 8,000 full time students, the Saanich School District, north of Victoria, B.C., is not what anyone would call large. This hasn’t stopped its IT team from pursuing the ambitious goal of developing an open-source system for student records, openStudent. District officials believe openStudent could expand to cover all 600,000 students in British Columbia, and many more in the United States, at one-tenth the price of a commercial system. Read More

Open Docket, an Open Government Tool for Small Towns and Cities

BY Sam Roudman | Monday, February 4 2013

In small towns, getting civic information can be a mess. Figuring out the history or status of a request for a new stop sign can require a slog through weeks or months of PDF files of meeting agendas, minutes, and reports. Is the information public? Yes. Is it accessible? No. Sean Roche lives in Newton, Mass., population 85,000, and he's hoping to solve that with Open Docket, an open-source project he's launched to provide a better way to track the lawmaking goings-on of small cities and towns.

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In Uruguay, Quesabes.org Helps Citizens Use Their Right to Open Government

BY Elena Casas-Montanez | Tuesday, January 29 2013

Screenshot from Quesabes.org

When Uruguay passed a freedom of information law in October 2008, international watchdogs applauded. The country of just 3 million people, squeezed in between Argentina and Brazil, became a regional leader in freedom of information. Citizens could access nearly any piece information held by the government, with exceptions for issues like national security. There was just one problem — nobody was actually using their rights under the law. That's where www.quesabes.org came in. Read More

WeGov

Hack Day Brings Tech Solutions to Refugees Seeking Family Members

BY Julia Wetherell | Friday, January 25 2013

Developers at last weekend's Refugees United Hack Day

The world population of refugees displaced both within their home country’s borders and to harboring nations numbers in the tens of millions. Four fifths of that population is accounted for in the developing world, where humanitarian crisis cuts across communities, often separating families. On January 19, London-based developers worked to create new solutions for reconnecting these families, at the second Refugees United Hack Day. Read More

WeGov

Abayima Makes SIM Cards Into E-Readers to Combat Information Blackouts

BY Julia Wetherell | Tuesday, January 22 2013

Over the past decade, mobile tech has grown into a dominant force in journalism, activism, and revolution across the globe. Yet one organization is going lo-tech to get information in the hands of the people – by transforming basic cellular phones into e-readers loaded with news that might be otherwise censored by the government. Read More

WeGov

Israeli Transparency NGO Shows Voters How to Cast Informed Ballots

BY Lisa Goldman | Thursday, January 3 2013

Screengrab from Open Knesset website

As Israelis prepare to cast their ballots in national elections on January 22, the country's only transparency NGO has launched a campaign to encourage voters to educate themselves by consulting their Open Knesset website, where they can find previously unavailable information about how their legislators are doing their jobs and whether they are representing their constituents as they would wish to be represented. Read More