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All over the world, groups and individuals are using technology in a variety of innovative ways to increase government transparency, fight corruption, open data, hack on civic problems, strengthen economic development, address environmental problems, improve public health and education, and advance the conditions of women and children.

Our name for this trend is "We-government" or "WeGov" for short. Unlike the older practice of e-government, where public agencies are in the driver's seat and use tech to tell citizens what officials want them to know, allow them to upload required information, and invite input but only on government's terms, WeGov is what happens when citizens and NGOs take fuller advantage of tech's affordances to create (and sometimes co-create, with government's involvement) new and better approaches to providing and using vital public information and services.

techPresident's WeGov vertical is where we cover the people, projects, trends and ideas that are shaping this emerging space with a mix of in-depth feature reporting, daily news digests, and the development of a growing archive of articles, modules and pointers to other valuable resources.

Starting in June 2013, a chunk of the coverage on WeGov is coming from a new partnership with the engine room aimed at expanding our ability to surface and connect emerging tactics and initiatives. The engine room is an organization that uses research and networks to close gaps between advocacy initiatives, technologies, strategies and resources. They match initiatives with specialized expertise to help them make the most out of new technologies. With their help, we will be adding a series of skill shares for practitioners, in-depth reports, columns, and live documentation of relevant events.

To read about WeGov articles that fall under specific categories of interest, click on the links below:

Subscribe to our WeGov mailing list. Current subscribers may need to update their preferences.





WeGov is written and edited by Rebecca Chao, Jessica McKenzie and Antonella Napolitano, in partnership with the engine room and with assistance from Micah L. Sifry. The WeGov advisory board includes Sunil Abraham, Dominic Campbell, Susan Crawford, Beth Noveck, Tiago Peixoto, and Jeffrey Warren.

Personal Democracy Media is thankful to the Omidyar Network and the United Nations Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

WeGov

Occupy Central and China's Policy of Give and Take

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, September 30 2014

The movement has inspired a variety of Internet logos (Top: Angelo Costadimas | Left: Sam Inglis | Right: Tania Willis)

Since exploding on the international stage on Friday, the ongoing pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong known as Occupy Central has galvanized up to 80,000 people by some estimates and has made enough noise to capture attention and support from those as far away as Los Angeles, London, Paris and Perth. But inside mainland China, except for a few folks who shaved their heads to show solidarity, people there have remained noticeably quiet. The government's diligent censorship of Occupy Central coverage in China can explain part of the silence but not all of it.

Read More

WeGov

Pirate MEP Crowdsources Internet Policy Questions For Designated EU Commissioners

BY Miranda Neubauer | Friday, September 26 2014

While the Pirate Party within Germany was facing internal disputes over the last week, the German Pirate Party member in the European Parliament, Julia Reda, is seeking to make the European Commission appointment process more transparent by crowdsourcing questions for the designated Commissioner for Digital Economy & Society and the designated Vice President for the Digital Single Market. Read More

WeGov

Germany Releases Open Data Action Plan Amidst Grassroots Enthusiasm and Pirate Party Turmoil

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, September 22 2014

German Open Data portal

The German government on Wednesday unveiled its open data action plan to implement the open data charter established by the G8, now G7, countries. But while German open government advocates welcomed its release, for them it does not go far enough. Even as the open data movement is taking new hold in Germany on the local level with encouragement from the new Code for Germany effort, in the national Pirate Party, the supposed German net party, internal leadership disputes are overshadowing its digital agenda. Read More

WeGov

Can Technology Help Swing Scotland’s Referendum Towards Yes?

BY Jon Worth | Wednesday, September 17 2014

Lady Alba for Yes versus PatronisingBTLady for No (screenshots)

Scotland has been part of the United Kingdom since 1707 and the old cultural ties to the rest of the British Isles are one of the main arguments made against independence in tomorrow's referendum vote. Yet if the Yes to independence side is to succeed – the polls narrowed in the final month of the campaign to within a couple of percent after a sudden surge in support for independence – it will be something much more modern that will win the day: the use of online technology in a top-down data driven manner and networked grassroots way.

Read More

WeGov

In Czech Republic, NGOs Launch Anti-Corruption Campaign

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, September 8 2014

The Czech Parliament in Prague (Photo: Matt Dell/Flickr)

“We have a plan to end corruption. And we need your help to make it happen” This is the message launched by Czech NGOs to citizens in an effort to rebuild trust and credibility towards the institutions, a even more urging need, after a huge corruption scandal disrupted the political scene a little more than a year ago. The NGOs agenda is made of 9 laws and is the core of a project called Rekonstrukce Státu (Reconstruction of State), a joint effort of more than 20 civil society organizations. Read More

WeGov

In China, Local Governments Play Whac-a-Mole With Taxi Apps

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, August 29 2014

Beijing yellow cabs from the 1980s (credit: This is Beijing!)

It seems these days that car-hailing apps exist only to give cities grief. In New York, car sharing start-ups like Lyft ignore labor, safety insurance laws and in China, the situation is no different except in one regard: taxi hailing apps in China are proliferating at a faster rate than in the U.S. In China, however, the taxi system is very much in its infancy and local Chinese governments are struggling to control the proliferation of new apps that flout the law. Read More

WeGov

The Uncertain Future of India's Plan to Biometrically Identify Everyone

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, August 28 2014

Biometric data collection in Howrah, India (Photo: Biswarup Ganguly)

Since its launch in 2010, people in India have raised a number of questions and concerns about the Aadhaar card —formally known as Unique Identification (UID)— citing its effects on privacy rights, potential security flaws, and failures in functionality. Read More

WeGov

In Mexico, A Wiki Makes Corporate Secrets Public

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 20 2014

A scene from the mountain range in Mexico that foreign companies hope to mine for gold and silver.

Earlier this year the Latin American NGO Poder launched Quién Es Quién Wiki (Who's Who Wiki), a corporate transparency project more than two years in the making. The hope is that the platform will be the foundation for a citizen-led movement demanding transparency and accountability from businesses in Mexico. Data from Quién Es Quién Wiki is already helping community activists mobilize against foreign companies preparing to mine the mountains of the Sierra Norte de Puebla.

Read More

WeGov

Ushahidi Provides Journalists With Instant Real-Time Crisis Data

BY Onnik James Krikorian | Wednesday, August 20 2014

Ushahidi's CrisisNET platform provides reporters with accurate and timely data culled from social media (credit: Ushahidi)

Times have changed since Ushahidi first launched its crisis mapping platform in the violent aftermath of the 2007 elections in Kenya. With the use of social media now widespread, so too has the way in which many media, international organizations, and local NGOs now work. Ushahidi has had to go social. Read More

WeGov

NDI Launches Open Source DemTools for International Development

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 13 2014

Screenshot of the four tools

Yesterday the National Democratic Institute launched a suite of web-based applications created for their partner organizations, mostly pro-democracy groups and political parties around the world. These “DemTools,” which are ready-to-use but can also be customized, will give organizations in developing countries some of the capabilities that political activists and parties in the United States have had for years. Moreover, since the National Democratic Institute (NDI) is making the promise to host partner organization's applications in the cloud essentially forever, they hope these applications will help usher in a period of more sustainable tech.

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WeGov

How Tech-Savvy Podemos Became One of Spain’s Most Popular Parties in 100 Days

BY Carola Frediani | Monday, August 11 2014

The Podemos banner asks, "When is the last time you voted with hope?" (Podemos Uvieu/flickr)

Podemos (“We Can”), a new Spanish party established in March 2014, disrupted their nation’s political scene when it swept up five seats out of 54 and 1.2 million votes (8% of the total) in the European elections in May even though it was only 100-days-old. With 704,585 likes on Facebook and 321,000 followers on Twitter, it has more online fans than any other Spanish political party.

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WeGov

In the Philippines, Citizens Go Undercover With Bantay to Monitor Public Offices

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, July 30 2014

The results of the Red Tape Index, the first monitoring study by Bantay.ph

The Philippines, a country of almost 100 million, is considered among the most corrupt country in Southeast Asia, despite a boost in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index in the past few years (from 134th in 2010 to 94th in 2013 out of 175.) Corruption involves all levels of government, but benefits also from a mindset of tolerance, says Happy Feraren, the co-founder of Bantay.ph, an anti-corruption educational initiative that teaches citizens how to monitor the quality of government services, sometimes by going undercover. Read More

WeGov

Tweets2Rue Helps Homeless to Help Themselves Through Twitter

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, July 21 2014

"You are not invisible" - Tweeted by @Kanter57640, one of the Tweets2Rue members.

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. Read More

WeGov

For Syrian Refugees, the World Food Program Makes Food Aid Electronic

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, July 17 2014

Mohamad Atallah El-Mahmoud, who fled Syria with his family in 2012, sits with his youngest daughter in Lebanon. (Credit: WFP)

The United Nations World Food Program has rolled out an electronic food program for Syrian refugees, giving them control over what they eat and allowing them to inject that money back into their host country's economy. Read More

WeGov

[OKFest14] Liveblog

BY the engine room | Thursday, July 17 2014

Update July 17, 5PM CET

<

How to teach open data

School of Data, Peer to Peer University and Open Tech School organized a world-cafe' style workshop to share their experiences in designing and conducting training processes, online and offline. The areas covered were:

  • How to organise tech and data workshops
  • Building effective curriculum and accreditation
  • Type of education activities: a blended offline, online
  • Designing passion driven communities
Read More

WeGov

New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, July 16 2014

A screenshot of the amateur video capturing Neda Agha-Soltan's death. The video won a prestigious Polk award.

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

Read More

WeGov

[OKFest 2014] Flash interviews

BY the engine room | Wednesday, July 16 2014

During OKFest, our reporters will ask Festival participants five questions about the state of the Open knowledge movement:

  • What’s the most interesting project you have seen at OKFest?
  • What should be open?
  • What should not be open?
  • In your opinion, what has opening knowledge accomplished?
  • What’s next for the open knowledge movement?

This post collects all the flash interviews: read on for insights into open knowledge from the deep end.

Read More

WeGov

[OKFest14] Introducing the engine room Liveblog for OKFest 2014

BY the engine room | Tuesday, July 15 2014

OKFest logo. Credit: Open Knowledge

OKFest 2014 will be the biggest Open Knowledge event yet. And with over a hundred sessions and 1000 participants, it promises to capture 360 view of the state of things in the open data movement. The engine room will be liveblogging the event, conducting flash interviews, surfing sessions for insights, and sitting down with a few open knowledge projects to learn more about the state of the art and evolution of the open data movement. We will be updating this space with pictures and other media, session aha’s, and trends we see throughout the event.

Read More

WeGov

Orkut and Why Facebook Beats Out Local Social Networks

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, July 10 2014

Orkut, Google’s social network platform once beloved in Brazil, will soon shutter with Facebook taking its place. Mark Zuckerberg's social network currently not only operates but also dominates in every time zone, making it at this point in time, an empire upon which the sun literally never sets. Read More

WeGov

#FlashHacks: Crowdscraping Corporate Data to Understand "The Man"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, July 8 2014

(Photo: Gerd Altmann/Pixabay)

You probably work for “The Man.” If not you, then someone close to you does, and even if you have no friends or family, your government is almost certainly doing business with him. Wouldn't it be nice to know a bit more about the so-called “Man”? Thanks to the massive open data project OpenCorporates, you now can, and they are intensifying their data opening efforts with #FlashHacks, a crowdscraping campaign launched today. The campaign goal is to release 10 million data points on the companies you work for, work with, buy from, sell to, and deal with in tangible and intangible ways every day, and all in just 10 days.

Read More

Wegov News Briefs

RSS Feed tuesday >

Occupy Central and China's Policy of Give and Take

Since exploding on the international stage on Friday, the ongoing pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong known as Occupy Central has galvanized up to 80,000 people by some estimates and has made enough noise to capture attention and support from those as far away as Los Angeles, London, Paris and Perth. But inside mainland China, except for a few folks who shaved their heads to show solidarity, people there have remained noticeably quiet. The government's diligent censorship of Occupy Central coverage in China can explain part of the silence but not all of it.

GO

friday >

Pirate MEP Crowdsources Internet Policy Questions For Designated EU Commissioners

While the Pirate Party within Germany was facing internal disputes over the last week, the German Pirate Party member in the European Parliament, Julia Reda, is seeking to make the European Commission appointment process more transparent by crowdsourcing questions for the designated Commissioner for Digital Economy & Society and the designated Vice President for the Digital Single Market. GO

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