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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

In Soggy UK, Is #FloodHack A Solution or a Shield?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 18 2014

Screenshot of a Youtube video depicting a flooded Worcester overtaken by swans (credit:INT/youtube)

What's that Prince William is cradling? His son Prince George? Nope—that's a sandbag. Prince William and Prince Harry pitched in to flood defense efforts Valentine's Day ahead of yet another winter storm. The storms have been so bad this season that they have earned their own BBC listicle, beginning with the October storm St Jude, which cost four people their lives, and ending with severe flooding along the Thames last week as it reached at its highest level in 60 years. On Sunday, London's technology community took a different approach to flood relief as they came together for a hackathon dubbed #FloodHack.

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WeGov

Venezuelan Protestors Report Phones Stolen and Internet Sites Blocked By Authorities

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 18 2014

Protest in Caracas, February 15, 2014. (andresAzp/Flickr)

After five days of clashes between antigovernment protestors and Venezuelan authorities, opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez submitted to security forces today to face charges of terrorism for allegedly inciting violent protests against President Nicolás Maduro's government. The protests have resulted in four deaths so far, for which each side blames the other.

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WeGov

Making "NSA-Proof" Social Networking Mainstream

BY Carola Frediani | Tuesday, February 18 2014

Even Internet Grandma Can Use It? (credit: KnowYourMeme)

Webmail services like Yahoo and Google and social networks like Facebook and Twitter are convenient and efficient platforms, as well as easy to use, but they collect massive amounts of user data that can facilitate intelligence spying and other types of snooping. Meanwhile, securer methods of communication are often cumbersome and overly technical for the average user who would like to send an email without having to download and set up various software. Yet after Edward Snowden’s leaks, an increasing demand for securer alternatives has led to the development of anti-surveillance products with an eye towards being user friendly. Read More

WeGov

In Syria, All's Fair in Love, Tech and Civil War

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, February 14 2014

There is more than a bit of Pygmalion in Haidar's story (Marissa-rissa)

They say all's fair in love and war, and this story contains a bit of each. Yesterday The Guardian profiled Ahmad Haidar, a hacker and technologist who uses his skills to battle the Syrian government. After the Syrian Electronic Army offered him a position in the group in 2011, he bailed on them in favor of the rebels. He used to make viruses to infect state-controlled websites, and he named them after—who else—ex-girlfriends. Haidar's newest project is a robot that can rescue sniper victims without putting more lives in danger. He has named it Tena, after a Finnish woman he once sat next to on an airplane.

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WeGov

How Will the UN Manage a Data Revolution?

BY Christopher Wilson | Thursday, February 13 2014

What will be the role of multilaterals in the data revolution? (credit: UN)

Faced now with the inevitability of the their failure to reach the MDGs, development experts are again taking stock. In last year’s highly anticipated report, the UN High Level Panel on the post-2015 development framework raised a number of eyebrows by calling for a data revolution to drive development. For multilaterals like the UNDP, this provides a unique opportunity to address dramatically different types of development processes and initiatives within a single program stream. Who doesn’t want to be working on the side of the revolution (as they’re calling it) when everyone agrees that the current regime is broken? Read More

WeGov

Turkey: "We Need Internet Censorship, Because Violence Against Women"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, February 13 2014

A controversial anti-Internet freedom ad from Turkey

The draconian Internet legislation that was working its way through the Turkish government in January passed February 5. To coincide with the new legislation, the Turkish government launched a disturbing advertising campaign that seems to equate a free and open internet with violence. The accompanying picture is of a woman with a bruised eye.

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WeGov

Bing Denies Censoring Chinese Search Results Worldwide...Again

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, February 12 2014

Chinese version of the Bing search engine

Recent research by the nonprofit organization Great Fire shows that Bing is censoring English and Chinese search engine results on sensitive topics like the Falun Gong, not only in China but globally. Microsoft—which owns and operates Bing—has issued a statement to Business Insider denying these accusations and blaming the search results on a system error. Great Fire has responded in turn, in short saying that Microsoft is being both dishonest and evasive.

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WeGov

From Sochi to Yerevan: Crowdfunding in the Caucasus

BY Onnik James Krikorian | Wednesday, February 12 2014

The Sayat Nova Project, a Kickstarter-funded study of the minority culture of the South Caucasus (© Onnik James Krikorian)

In July 2007, when the venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics was announced, writer-filmmaker Arnold van Bruggen and photographer Rob Hornstra embarked on an ambitious project to shine a light on the then little known Black Sea resort town of Sochi, in what was to become The Sochi Project. Without the help of crowdfunding, the project and the freedom through which filmmakers could create, would not have been possible. In fact, crowdfunding for civic-oriented projects is growing ever more popular in the Caucasus, especially as press freedom stagnates and foreign aid decreases. Read More

WeGov

Snowden and the War On Whistleblowers: An Interview With Annie Machon

BY Carola Frediani | Tuesday, February 11 2014

Annie Machon, a former British intelligence officer turned whistleblower, was known in the 1990s for disclosing illegal wiretapping, among a number of alleged crimes, by the UK Security Service, MI5. She is now again in the spotlight for creating a fund to help Edward Snowden and protect others like him. Machon talks to techPresident about her new initiative, the Courage Foundation to Protect Journalistic Sources, as well as her thoughts on mass surveillance and its erosion of civil liberties. Read More

WeGov

Safecast Logs its 15 Millionth Crowdsourced Data Point for Radiation Mapping

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, February 10 2014

In the wake of the 2011 earthquake and the Fukushima nuclear disaster that followed, residents of Japan needed a reliable source of information about radiation levels. Unfortunately, information was either unavailable or withheld from the public. The need for data compelled concerned citizens to create their own, and the need to take their own radiation readings compelled them to make their own Geiger counters. Safecast was born. Last month the global project logged their 15 millionth data point, with no sign of slowing down soon.

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WeGov

Indonesian Tweeter Most Recent Target of Draconian Internet Law

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, February 6 2014

Screen shot of Benny Handoko's Twitter profile

After joining Twitter in 2008, former construction worker Benny Handoko amassed nearly 54,000 followers. On February 5 a South Jakarta court sentenced him to a year of probation for tweeting libelous statements about an Indonesian politician. The case, one of the first to be taken to court under the Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE) Law because of a tweet, has reignited a debate about the controversial Internet law, which has been in place since 2009.

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WeGov

Gaming to Unite a Divided City in Cyprus

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, February 5 2014

The Last Divided Capital (Dan Nevill/Flickr)

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, Nicosia became the last divided capital in the world. Located on the island of Cyprus, the Greek and Turkish Cypriot sections are separated by a United Nations buffer zone. A new online game allows young Nicosia residents on both sides of the divide to experience—virtually—their city as a whole, and helps them understand their shared history.

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WeGov

EU's First Anti-Corruption Report: What Role for Whistleblowers and Civil Society?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, February 5 2014

Home Affairs Commissioner Cecilia Malström (credit: European Parliament on Flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

There are no corruption-free zones in Europe. The bottom line of the first EU Anti-corruption report might be somewhat predictable, but it also represents a first and significant (albeit small) step to launch a debate inside the EU institutions. Read More

WeGov

Digital Platform Empowers Women Within Pakistan's Patriarchal System

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, February 5 2014

Barriers to the workforce for women in Pakistan have compelled them to get creative (Leo Reynolds/Flickr)

In Pakistan, where many women are discourage from working outside of the home, technology has opened up different avenues through which women can enter the workforce. One start-up called the Women's Digital League is helping to facilitate this shift and to get more women working.

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WeGov

7 Things You Didn't Know About Vietnam's Net

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 4 2014

Screenshot of Vietmeme's Twitter profile

Vietnam has an active Internet culture of civic engagement, but it can be hard to see because it is relatively ephemeral and dispersed over multiple networks. A one stop shop for a snapshot of Vietnam's online community is Vietmeme, a kind of front page for the Vietnamese Internet.

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WeGov

Facebook at 10: Over the Hill in the US, Growing Pains Abroad

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, February 4 2014

Happy birthday, Facebook! (Puschinka/Wikipedia)

Today is the 10th anniversary of The Facebook. At the start of the new year, it boasted 1.23 billion users worldwide. While we in the United States fret over Facebook's alleged identity crisis or whether or not it is “over the hill” or happily middled aged, in other parts of the world Facebook is an essential platform for mobilization and activism and even, in many places, a gateway to the world wide web (if not the Internet in its entirety).

In honor of Facebook's birthday, techPresident presents a round up of Facebook news from around the world.

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WeGov

Frictionless Charity: How the Internet is Disrupting the Way We Give

BY Federico Guerrini | Monday, February 3 2014

A woman shows how she has received money directly from donators (credit: GiveDirectly)

When Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg announced his Timeline profile design back in 2011, he said it would create a “frictionless experience," making the apps you use, the articles you read and the music you listen to automatically shareable on Facebook. Philanthropy is also taking a “frictionless” route – donating can be as simple as sharing a Facebook post or tweeting a string of characters – but this new trend is disrupting the role of charities and how they interact with donors. Read More

WeGov

Africa Needs A Cybersecurity Law But AU's Proposal is Flawed, Advocates Say

BY Joel Macharia | Friday, January 31 2014

The AU may soon pass a cybersecurity bill that advocates say will not offer enough protections (EmbassyEquatorialGuinea/flickr)

Over the past 12 years, Africa has experienced a boom in telecommunication use; in fact, between 2000 and 2012, compared to any other region, Africa had the fastest rate of Internet penetration at 3,606.7% over that period. Kenya has the world’s largest mobile money transfer service, MPESA. Evidently, the increasing growth in Internet and mobile use has created a need for legislation that helps deter crime, and that enhances confidence and security in African cyberspace leading to the drafting of the Africa Union Convention on Cybersecurity (AUCC). The convention, however, has met with some resistance from tech and civil society, who claim it does not do enough to protect privacy and freedom of speech. Read More

WeGov

World Bank's New Website Lets Countries Compare Data on Education

BY Rebecca Chao | Thursday, January 30 2014

The data portal allows users to see what education data is available per country. (credit: screenshot, World Bank)

As our partner Engine Room’s Susannah Vila recently asked in a post, can open data improve primary education in developing countries? She points to a number of grassroots education data initiatives like Check My School in the Philippines and platforms that provide school quality data for parents in Kenya and Tanzania; but the latest education data initiative by the World Bank is aimed at policymakers. Read More

WeGov

Reports Show The Dark Side of the Sochi Winter Olympics

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, January 30 2014

Screen shot of The Anti-Corruption Foundation's Encyclopedia of Spending

There is a side to the Winter Olympics that won't be shown on NBC, but corruption watchdogs like Alexei Navalny are on it. Both Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation and Human Rights Watch have released interactive reports on the corruption, human rights abuse and environmental harm behind the scenes of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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