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Coding for a Greener, Safer China

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, July 26 2013

Coding for Green Life Hackathoners (image: Sunny Gao)

Concerned techies in China have developed a number of "green" applications to help their city breathe, eat and access public services more easily. Read More


Google’s ‘White Space’ Experiment in South Africa a Boon for Local Schools

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, July 22 2013

(image: teachandlearn/flickr)

Back in March, Google began testing a new broadband Internet service in Cape Town, South Africa, and now hopes it can power products in the United States. But it might also be a way to deliver low-cost wireless Internet access to remote areas that wouldn't be connected otherwise. Gigaom reporter David Meyer recently traveled to Cape Town and reports that the six-month experiment is benefiting local schools. Read More


SMS and Facebook Alert System Reduces Pesticide Use By 30 Percent

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 17 2013

The worm of the coddling moth in an apple (Wikipedia)

Going pesticide-free just isn't an option for many farmers, but overuse is a major cause of pollution. In the Prespa Lake Basin, more than 2,000 species are threatened by the use of pesticides in adjacent towns like Resen, in southwestern Macedonia. Timing the application of pesticides is everything, but with no local media in Resen, it's hard to get the word out to nearby farmers. That's where an information system that uses SMS and Facebook to alert farmers to spray can make a difference.

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Kenya Launches a Revamped Website to File Taxes Online

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, July 16 2013

A screenshot of Kenya's new online tax filing system

As of July 1, a Kenyan had two options to file taxes: drive to a local banking hall and wait in a long line or submit them through a clunky website that often experienced delays in filing. But on the first of this month, Kenya’s Revenue Authority (KRA) rolled out a new online tax-filing platform called iTax. It was built in partnership with UBA Kenya Bank and according to the KRA, significantly improves upon its old system, KRA Online. Read More


China Gives Independent Internet Platforms More Room To Grow

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, July 15 2013

WeChat promotion (Flickr/liewcf)

At the end of May techPresident reported on the Beijing Health Department's decision to shut down Taobao, an Internet marketing services platform, because it competed with the city's public service. By choosing to shut it down, Beijing demonstrated China's preference to squash disruptive innovations in favor of government establishments. However, a recent Tech in Asia post suggests that China might be easing up on those restrictions on disruptive technologies, up to a point.

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The Five Star Movement Launches an Electronic Parliament

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, July 12 2013

A screenshot of the electronic parliament platform (image:

On July 10, the Five Star Movement (M5S) introduced its long awaited "electronic parliament" platform, Five Star Parliament, which allows citizens to vote, comment and even write pieces of legislation. M5S is an anti-government political party led by former comedian Beppe Grillo. They put out the site just weeks after 15 members of the Italian parliament had launched their own, Tu Parlamento. Five Star Parliament is currently available only to those living in Lazio but will soon launch in Lombardy and Sicily, then nationally. Read More


Jhatkaa: Getting India to 'Shake Up'

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, July 12 2013

Deepa Gupta, founder of Jhatkaa, discusses her vision for the project in a campaign video. (

Urinating into an empty dam to fill it, using late-night television as a contraceptive and suggesting Valentine's Day causes rape are a few of the public comments made by Indian politicians, as voiced by frustrated Indian citizens in Jhatkaa’s campaign video. Jhatkaa, which means “to shake up,” is a new civic startup pioneered by Deepa Gupta, a young Indian campaigner. Read More


Internet Search Engine for Muslims Filters 'Forbidden' Content Via Crowdsourcing

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, July 9 2013

Halalgoogling search results

The Internet is a dangerous place, especially for a Muslim trying to avoid haram (forbidden) content. A new search engine aims to make the Internet a safe, clean and virtuous place for Muslims around the world by filtering out unwanted sites and content. The Beta version of Halalgoogling launched on July 7.

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China's New Petitioning Platform: Let a Hundred Flowers Bloom…Online?

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, July 3 2013

Courtyard of Forbidden City (Wikimedia Commons)

On Monday, China’s Communist Party launched an online platform to encourage citizens to post petitions and air their grievances online. The BBC reported, however, that Chinese citizens are expressing via their microblogs that the new online petitioning, which requires users to register their address, will only allow the government to retaliate and better control dissidents. Read More


Ugandan Program to Promote Safe Sex Makes Things Worse

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, July 1 2013

Even after Google told them to, some Ugandans did not want to wrap it up (robertelyov/Flickr)

A mobile health initiative meant to encourage safe sex practices in Uganda failed to effect positive change. In fact, researchers found it made the community, on average, even more promiscuous. Read More