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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

Citizens Use Technology to Fight Crime in Guyana

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, January 29 2014

Screen shot of Guyana Crime Reports

With mapping technology and social media platforms at your fingertips, you no longer need to be bitten by a radioactive spider to take crime fighting into your own hands. Case in point: Guyana Crime Reports, which marries data journalism, mapping and crowdsourcing to make a powerful tool for citizen crime fighting.

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WeGov

TRAC FM Stirs Debate in Uganda By Merging Radio and Data

BY Erin Byrnes | Wednesday, January 29 2014

A radio presenter using the TRAC FM online platform (credit: TRAC FM)

Margaret Caroline Adong, 33, doesn’t own a smartphone or have access to the Internet where she lives in the Serere district in rural Uganda but she does participate in every TRAC FM poll that she hears over the radio or receives a text about. This SMS-based polling platform facilitates citizen engagement with interactive radio programs in Uganda through data collection and a radio broadcast of the mapped poll results. Read More

WeGov

In Lebanon, Dark Humor Has Practical Use

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, January 29 2014

Screenshot of the Google Play app

An application that began as a dark joke has actually found quite a bit of traction in troubled Lebanon. After a suicide bombing rocked part of Beirut January 21, Sandra Hassan uploaded “I Am Alive” to Google Play, an application that lets you send an alert to Twitter saying you survived.

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WeGov

"Prism On Steroids" At The Russian Olympics

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 28 2014

Beefing up surveillance (Jedimentat44/Flickr)

New Internet legislation in Russia is scheduled to go into effect on February 1, just one week before the XXII Winter Olympics Games begin in Sochi. Less than a year after Russia outlawed “homosexual propaganda” online (or off), it has now set its sights on the use of social media platforms to organize protests. Starting in February, Internet providers can be ordered to block sites if someone tries to organize “participation in mass public events.”

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WeGov

Twitter Storm For #Euromaidan Asks Media To Give As Much Attention To Revolution as Justin Bieber

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 28 2014

As previously noted on techPresident, the West paid next to no attention to the protests in Ukraine for two months, right up until violence broke out. Once they could be described as “Deadly Clashes” they made better headlines. Still, it wasn't until activists coordinated a Twitter Storm that a Ukraine-related hashtag made it into Twitter's worldwide trending topics.

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WeGov

"Burying" Data Until Convenient Undermines The UK's Open Data Efforts

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, January 27 2014

They don't have to bury it forever, just long enough (Marshall Astor - Food Fetishist/Flickr)

Revelations that the UK government held back crucial information about the effects of alcohol pricing on health, until a policy decision about it had gone by, have left some questioning the United Kingdom's open data program.

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WeGov

Participatory Budgeting Working in Brazil, Study Finds

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, January 27 2014

Accounting ledger (melstampz/Flickr)

A study released at the end of last year shows that Participatory Budgeting (PB) in Brazil “generate[s] meaningful change” and has a quantifiably positive impact on cities.

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WeGov

Good Faith Efforts To Improve Democracy in Indonesia?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, January 24 2014

Photo: Flickr/KCIvey

Democracy in Indonesia has two things going for it this year—a new organization called Ayo Vote, which hopes to mobilize young people and get them to the polls, and a government sponsored website where voters can peruse the CVs of their potential representation.

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WeGov

A Burgeoning Hacker Culture in Haiti

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, January 23 2014

A scene from the 2013 Haiti hackathon (EricGoldhagen/Flickr)

Haiti's first hackathon ever took place only one year ago, in February 2013, but since then students at the Ecole Supérieure d'Infotronique d'Haiti (ESIH) have held two more hacking events and are even now forming a coding club called Enjoy.code. More than 100 students have applied to be a part of the new club. In an interview with techPresident, the Directeur Général of ESIH Patrick Attie talked about the burgeoning hacker culture in his school.

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WeGov

When It Comes To Internet Censorship, China & Iran Are All In This Together

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, January 22 2014

Iran's Ministry of Communications and Information Technology just announced that China will be collaborating with them on Iran's "clean Internet" or the National Information Network. Officials from China's Information Council met with Nasrollah Jahangard, Iran's Head of Internet and Communications Technology, earlier this month to iron out the deal.

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WeGov

Hadrian's Firewall: UK's New Internet Filter or Censor?

BY Wendy M. Grossman | Wednesday, January 22 2014

The UK Internet is getting its own Hadrian's Wall, an ancient fortification in Northern England (quisnovus/flickr)

"Hadrian's Firewall," the veteran journalist Guy Kewney called it in 2006, the first time I wrote about plans for UK-wide content blocking. The term is much more valid now: just before Christmas British ISPs turned on a system that requires subscribers to actively choose whether they want filtering that will block material in broad categories such as sex, alcohol, violence, and hate speech. In response, the Open Rights Group is gearing up to collect evidence of whether and how the filters work. Of particular concern to ORG is the problem of over-blocking with little redress available to site owners, as well as the dangers inherent in over-confidence in the technology. Read More

WeGov

No, Social Media Will Not Solve Syria's "Social Media Civil War"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, January 22 2014

YouTube videos of the Syrian war

The Syrian peace talks got off to a rough start Wednesday in Montreux, Switzerland, with the New York Times reporting “sharp divisions” between the Syrian factions, as well as Russia and the United States, causing friction early on in the proceedings. So far, it does not appear as though social media will somehow interfere to save the day.

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WeGov

In Kenya, Bloggers Say New Media Bill Makes Them Vulnerable to Prosecution

BY Neelam Verjee | Tuesday, January 21 2014

The new media law broadens the definition of "journalist" and gives courts authority to impose stiff fines (credit: CPJ)

Kenyan bloggers have sounded a warning that “draconian” media legislation introduced late last year among a storm of controversy could stifle the country’s vibrant online community. Bloggers and writers have expressed concerns about what they called “ambiguous” definitions of the term “journalist” and “journalism” in the Media Council of Kenya Bill 2013, saying that it marked the latest in a string of attempts to crack down on the country’s outspoken virtual community. Read More

WeGov

Gov'ts Hoarding Data Lose Out On Potential Revenue

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, January 21 2014

Screenshot of the gRoads Global Map

Open data is all the rage these days, but many governments are still reluctant to release geospatial data, perhaps because of the impulse to try and recoup some of the high costs of collecting it. However, experts say that this is stifling innovation and damming potential revenue streams.

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WeGov

In Zambia, Power Struggle Between Gov't And Watchdog Escalates

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, January 20 2014

The Zambian government has just about had it with the independent, anonymous news site Zambian Watchdog. Their most recent offense? Publishing a draft constitution never before seen by the public. Mere hours after publication, Zambian authorities stated that they will pursue those responsible for “libelous, defamatory, treasonous and seditious statements and bring them to book.”

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WeGov

Revolution in Ukraine Has Been Live Streamed For Two Months. When Will the West Start to Care?

BY Antonella Napolitano | Monday, January 20 2014

Protest in Kiev last Sunday (photo by @mikekomar)

Apparently, nobody likes a peaceful revolution. Nine years after the Orange Revolution, Ukraine citizens are again voicing their opposition to how the government is managing the state. But Western media and politics do not seem to care. Read More

WeGov

As Govt Ups Censorship of Microblogs, Chinese Netizens Migrate to Other Platforms

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, January 17 2014

Zhihu, a newer online platform allows for more liberal discussions than the oft-censored Weibo (credit: screenshot)

If you’re in China, don’t get too attached to your microblog. Sooner or later, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will begin to censor it and you’ll either have to suck it up or move on. New data shows that most are choosing the latter, migrating from the popular microblog Weibo to the (seemingly) more private instant messaging service WeChat, as well as new debate platforms like Zhihu (“Did you know?”), which currently allows users to ask tough questions. Read More

WeGov

From Keeping Away Snoops to Surmounting the Digital Divide, Mesh Networks are on the Rise

BY Carola Frediani | Thursday, January 16 2014

In Somaliland, locals build their own Internet where there is none (credit: Daniel Hastings)

From Somalia to Greece, from New York to rural Spain, an increasing number of communities around the world are taking back the right to build their own Internet, by setting up wireless communication networks. Digital divide, scarcity of resources, fears of corporate and government surveillance are the main drivers behind a growing movement that, by leveraging Wi-Fi technology, seeks to create open, free and autonomous networks to connect people. Read More

WeGov

New Data.Gov.Ph Site Lowers Barriers to Gov't Data in Philippines

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, January 16 2014

Screenshot of Data.gov.ph

A presidential spokesperson launched the new Open Data Philippines site on Thursday. This is a big step in the direction of transparency for the Philippines, which was chided in a Sunlight Foundation report last October for erecting unnecessary barriers to public data.

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WeGov

Amidst General Distrust of Politics, the Socialist Party of Catalonia Takes Babysteps Towards Transparency

BY Antonella Napolitano | Wednesday, January 15 2014

A screenshot of the homepage of the website Espai Obert ("Open Space" in Catalan language)

The Socialist Party of Catalonia (PSC) has launched a transparency portal, dubbing itself “the first open party of Barcelona.” This is part of an effort to renew the organization and perception of the party in a context of profound distrust toward politics in the whole country, after several big corruption scandals that involved the Prime Minister and, lately, also the Spanish Royal Family. Will the new website be enough? Read More