You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

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

Interactive Gallery of Images Censored on Sina Weibo

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, November 15 2013

Bo Xilai has his own category of censored photos (Wikipedia)

Yesterday ProPublica launched an interactive photo gallery of all of the images deleted since May from the popular Chinese microblogging site, Sina Weibo. In those five months, a program has been checking 100 Weibo accounts, noting which posts contain an image and of those, which are deleted. Of the 80,000 posts collected, more than 5 percent (roughly 4,200) were deleted.

Read More

WeGov

Australia Cleans Up Data.Gov.Au, Loses More Than Half of Its 1,200 Datasets

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, November 14 2013

Every dataset deserves a good clean up (Flickr/Chiot's Run)

Since Australia switched their open data website to an open source platform in July, the number of datasets has dropped from 1200 to 500. Did they get lost in the move? No, it just turns out that many of them were pure junk, links to webpages that no longer existed or led to irrelevant pages.

Read More

WeGov

After NSA Scandal, Crop of Whistleblower Communication Tools for Journalists Emerge

BY Carola Frediani | Wednesday, November 13 2013

Uncle Sam wants to know (Jeff Schuler/flickr)

Among the many questions raised by the NSA scandal, there is one that is especially worrying for journalists: how to have secure communications with sources given the widespread surveillance of emails, phone calls, chats and browsing activities. How should investigative reporting deal with the technological challenges posed by governments’ mass control of Internet and phone traffic? A number of online platforms have now sprouted across the globe with the mission to protect the anonymity of journalists' sources. Read More

WeGov

With Both Scalpel and Cudgel, Iran Censors Wikipedia

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, November 13 2013

Screenshot of Emma Watson's Persian Wikipedia page, which is blocked in Iran.

What do the BBC, the Bahá'í faith and Emma Watson have in common? They are among the 963 blocked Persian Wikipedia articles according to a report released earlier this month, “Citation Filtered: Iran's Censorship of Wikipedia.”

Read More

WeGov

Red Cross Relies on OpenStreetMap in Haiyan Relief Efforts

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, November 13 2013

Screenshot of the OpenStreetMap of Tacloban

Humanitarian organizations are amping up their use of crowdsourcing made possible by the Internet. On Monday, techPresident reported that the United Nations partnership with the Digital Humanitarian Network resulted in groundbreaking use of human computing and machine computing to sift through big data in the aftermath of Super-typhoon Haiyan. In a similar vein, for the first time the Red Cross coordinated their response to Haiyan based on information crowdsourced on OpenStreetMap (OSM).

Read More

WeGov

Raspberry Pi Tackles the Great Firewall and Peruvian Amazon

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, November 13 2013

The low-cost computer has inspired a number of projects for social good (GijsbertPeijs/flickr)

When Eben Upton created the Raspberry Pi, a single-board computer the size of a credit card, he had no inkling its reach would extend beyond England’s borders and do more than inspire UK’s youth to program. A little went a long way. Thousands of miles, in fact, to places as far from the UK as China, India and as remote as the Peruvian Amazon. The Raspberry Pi, first conceived by Upton in 2006 and released in February of last year, is produced by the non-profit Raspberry Pi Foundation. Since then, it has sold 1.2 million units worldwide and was named the top 100 most inspiring social tech innovations by the Nominet Trust, which has noted its use in developing countries as a low-budget tool or computer. Read More

WeGov

Sharing Cities: The Next Global Trend?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 12 2013

They always told us to share when we were kids, but can we as adults? (Flickr/platinumblondelife)

More and more people are starting to believe in the power of sharing and in its ability to enact social change. At the end of September, the nonprofit news and activism site Shareable launched the Sharing Cities Network to support innovators and activists working to make cities around the world more sharing. In October, they hosted a two week long Map Jam in cities around the world, in which local members of the Sharing Cities Network mapped sharing resources. They set a goal of mapping 25 cities with 25 local teams, but in the end more than 55 different city teams participated.

Read More

WeGov

France Outlines Open Data Plans

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 12 2013

On Friday the French government released their Action Plan for France to enact the guidelines and practices outlined in the G8 Open Data Charter, adopted in June of this year at the Lough Erne Summit by the President of the French Republic and the other G8 Member States.

Read More

WeGov

Honoring Spirit and Idealism of Aaron Swartz at Memorial Hackathon

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, November 11 2013

graysky/flickr

After Aaron Swartz's death on January 11, 2013, activists around the world gathered and held spontaneous hackathon's in his honor. They were informal and lacked central organization, which was fine at the time, but months later friends and colleagues of Swartz's wanted to know what had happened at those events, and if any of the participants would be interested in another one. The Aaron Swartz Memorial Hackathon began at Friday, November 8—what would have been Swartz's 27th birthday—in New York City, as well as in 19 other cities around the world, from Amsterdam to Zagreb.

Read More

WeGov

Digital Humanitarian Response to Super-Typhoon Haiyan

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, November 11 2013

Survivors among the wreckage after Super-typhoon Haiyan (Flickr/EU Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection)

A devastating super-typhoon with gusts of 200-m.p.h. winds ravaged huge swaths of the Philippines this weekend. Super-typhoon Haiyan (known as Yolanda in the Philippines) is reported to be the strongest recorded storm to ever make landfall. Although the official death toll is now at 1,774, thousands are still missing and a Filipino Presidential spokesman has said they are praying it does not rise about 10,000. Humanitarian organizations have already begun the daunting task of bringing relief to the nearly 10 million people affected by the super storm. In addition to the emergency aid and military personnel flooding into the country, a team of digital humanitarians are also on the job. Patrick Meier reports on his blog iRevolution that for the first time humanitarian response to Typhoon Haiyan makes full use of both human computing and machine computing to understand the big data in the aftermath of disaster.

Read More

WeGov

Will The Shift To E-Gov't Decrease Corruption in Kenya?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, November 7 2013

"Complaint box for corruption." (Flickr/watchsmart)

Today Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta launched the first e-government service center in Nairobi. The Huduma—which is Swahili for service—Centers are supposed to be “one-stop shop[s]” for government services like seasonal parking tickets, student loan applications, reporting corruption and drivers licenses, among others.

Read More

WeGov

Rwandapedia: Their Story, Their Way

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, November 7 2013

Rwandan Flag (Wikipedia)

Last week at the Transform Africa Summit, a conference centered on development and ICT, Rwanda launched a digital archive called Rwandapedia, a collection of cultural and historical information about the country. The site as it is now focuses on the past 20 years, after the genocide in 1994. However, much like the online encyclopedia Wikipedia, Rwandapedia is a platform through which anyone can submit stories and material, and will eventually encompass a much deeper history.

Read More

WeGov

India's Election Commission Lays Down Last Minute Laws For Online Campaigning

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, November 6 2013

Screenshot of PM Manmohan Singh's Twitter page

India's Election Commission recently published a set of guidelines for the use of social media in political campaigns, requiring that candidates declare the amount of funds spent on social media campaigning and pre-certify their political advertisements, among other requirements. The new rules, sprung on political campaigners less than a month before the scheduled elections, have had mixed reception, with some saying that the rules do not go far enough.

Read More

WeGov

Piggybacking on Corporations to Distribute Humanitarian Aid

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, November 6 2013

The ubiquitous Coca-Cola logo (Wikipedia)

Why is it that you can by a Coke nearly everywhere in the world, even in the most remote developing country, but in many of those same locations one in nine children die from preventable illnesses like dehydration from diarrhea before their fifth birthday? That was what the founders of the organization ColaLife wondered when they came up with the idea for Kit Yamoyo, an anti-dehydration kit that piggybacks on existing Coca-Cola distribution networks to get the solution to those in need.

Read More

WeGov

Italy, a Test Lab for Participatory Democracy

BY Carola Frediani | Wednesday, November 6 2013

Beppe Grillo Rallying the Crowd at Piazza Dante in Naples. (Avanguardie.info Web Magazine/flickr)

Online platforms for participatory democracy are flourishing in Italy and they are being initiated by civil society and local governments alike. Some of these tools are limited to 'social reporting,' where citizens are asked to recount problems and disruptions; others strive for empowering people with some sort of liquid democracy that allows people to debate and even propose legislation. But all of these platforms grew out of a deep dissatisfaction toward Italian politics and politicians. Now, a variety of tools to enable bottom-up decision making are being tested by local municipalities in Italy and being developed by small groups of volunteers. 
 Read More

WeGov

At "Peak Open," Open Government Partnership Faces Default States of Closed

BY Alex Howard | Wednesday, November 6 2013

Incoming civil society chair of the OGP, Rakesh Rajani, far left (Photo: Alex Howard)

With the second annual Open Government Partnership summit now concluded, one longtime observer of the "open government" movement, Alex Howard, offers his overview of its achievements, shortcomings and challenges ahead. Read More

WeGov

Open Thread: The Second Open Government Partnership Summit

BY Susannah Vila and Christopher Wilson | Tuesday, November 5 2013

Cabinet Office/flickr

The goal of the Open Government Partnership is to get governments to make (and carry out) concrete commitments that promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.

How’s that going? At the end of the month about 1,200 OGP participants came together for the initiative's third annual summit. Over the course of the event we shared analyses and documentation of the issues that made it onto the agenda, the lessons learned and the next steps. Click through for the latest update.

Read More

WeGov

Tajikistan Blocks YouTube and News Site On Eve of Election

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 5 2013

Rakhmon with Dmitry Medvedev (Wikipedia)

On the eve of Tajik elections, clients of certain Internet providers were unable to access YouTube or the popular new portal Ozodagon. A source close to the Tajik government told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that the blocks were ordered by the State Communications Service.

Read More

WeGov

#NoFilter: Instagrams Provide Rare, Uncensored Look Inside North Korea

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, November 5 2013

A man biking in Pyongyang, North Korea (Wikipedia)

North Korea relaxed many of their rules and restrictions imposed on visiting foreigners this year. In January the country began allowing foreigners to carry cell phones, and in February it even activated a 3G network, although that was later revoked in March. Now millions of North Koreans use a 3G network, but are banned from using it to access the Internet or to make international phone calls. Foreigners still have easier access to wi-fi connections. One Associated Press photographer named David Guttenfelder regularly uploads uncensored images to his Instagram account, providing a rare look into a country once virtually unknown.

Read More

WeGov

Messages From Behind Bars and Beyond the Grave

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, November 4 2013

Screenshot of Rodrigo Rosenberg accusing Guatemalan President Colom of murder from beyond the grave

Before flying back to his home country, Vietnam, last week, Nguyen Lan Thang took a few minutes to record a video, just in case he was arrested or detained at the airport. As a pro-democracy blogger in a country that punishes online speech that criticizes the Communist government, Thang had good reason to be worried. Sure enough, upon arriving at the airport after a three month long stint abroad, during which Thang met with human rights groups and international organizations, Thang was picked up by Vietnam's security forces.

Read More