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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

Entering a New Era of Open Data in the U.K.?

BY Rebecca Chao | Tuesday, September 17 2013

Not your average data catalog (dfulmer/flickr)

The U.K. government, last week, began releasing its inventory of hitherto "unpublished" data on data.gov.uk while also allowing users to comment on the quality and content of the data. Is the U.K. onto something new or is it some of the same old? Read More

WeGov

Turkey's Ruling Party Training Social Media Reps to Counter Opposition's Online Presence

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, September 17 2013

They say if you can't beat 'em, join 'em, and it appears that the Turkish government is taking that advice to heart. The ruling Justice and Development Party (or AKP) is training 6,000 social media representatives to counter the strong online presence of the opposition and those who participated in the Gezi protests in June.

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WeGov

Transparency in Taiwan Gets Boost From Open Data Alliance

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 16 2013

Taipei, Taiwan (Wikipedia)

This weekend Taiwan took another step toward a more transparent government. More than 200 individuals and groups from the private, public and academic sector gathered in Taipei on Saturday to establish an alliance to promote open data.

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WeGov

In Abu Dhabi, A Government-Led "Civic" App Is Surprisingly Popular

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 12 2013

A simple, free smartphone application called CityGuard has given thousands of Abu Dhabi residents the opportunity to be more involved in maintaining their communities. The government-developed mobile application allows citizens to report civic issues with just a few swipes on their smartphones. According to FutureGov Asia, the crowdsourcing initiative is surprising popular and successful. The app is the “cornerstone” of the Abu Dhabi government's initiative to empower and engage citizens through technology.

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WeGov

On Their Terms: A Digital Project to Give Inuit Say in Developers' Arctic Ambitions

BY Elisabeth Fraser | Thursday, September 12 2013

It's walrus season in Nunavut. (j.slein/flickr)

A new project in Canada’s north is attempting to bridge the digital divide facing Inuit communities. In doing so, it hopes to give them a say as developers move to take advantage of their resource-rich land. The idea is to provide high-speed Internet access to Inuit living in northern communities, where extremely low bandwidth access makes surfing the net a slow and cumbersome task. “These people, who most need access to these networks, have the worst cost-per-bandwidth in the civilized world,” says Cohn. Read More

WeGov

Nigeria Gets Its First Open Data Portal

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 12 2013

Since 2010, Edo State in Nigeria has set a day aside dedicated to technology and the state. The 2013 Edo State TechDay kicked off today, September 12, with the theme “Fostering Governance with Technology.” At the event (which has grown into a two day affair) Edo State Governor Adams Oshiomhole revealed Nigeria's first Open Data Portal.

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WeGov

Worried About The NSA? Be Glad You Don't Live In India

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 11 2013

Last week The Economic Times reported that India's massive surveillance apparatus known as the Centralised Monitoring System (CMS) will be “operational soon”—this in spite of the fact that some believed it to be at work as early as May of this year. When CMS finally made headlines, activists worried that India's existing privacy laws wouldn't be enough to protect consumers from snooping government officials abusing their powers. Low and behold—on September 9 The Hindu reported that India's 160 million Internet users are already being thoroughly surveilled, and that the government's activities violate laws meant to ensure “privacy of communications.”

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WeGov

The Hunt for Open Data in China

BY Rebecca Chao | Wednesday, September 11 2013

No data in this stack of hay. (Perry McKenna/flickr)

Like water and oil, ‘open data’ and ‘China’ that take a bit of engineering if you want them to mix. Stories like those of human rights advocate Xu Zhiyong, arrested for rallying citizens to demand public disclosure of their officials’ wealth, are more the norm. But rather than ask for information, a group of young techies are going out and finding it, despite the challenges in its use and the risks of digging too deep. Read More

WeGov

Did 15 Of Iran's Cabinet Members Sign Up For Facebook, Or Have We Been Punk'd?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, September 10 2013

Screenshot of Hasan Rouhani's alleged Facebook page

Did Iran's entire Cabinet—15 ministers in total—just open Facebook pages? It appears so, and analysts are a bit unsure what to make of it, considering the social media site is still technically banned in the country. President Hasan Rouhani also has a page that has been duly liked by all 15 ministers.

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WeGov

New and Old Media Collide in Saudi Twitter Radio Station

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, September 10 2013

Several Saudi bloggers have launched a weekly, two-hour long program called Radio-Twitter, which takes cues and tips from Twitter trends. Radio-Twitter emphasizes news of interest to the young and connected population in Saudi Arabia.

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WeGov

Hundreds Arrested As China's War On Weibo Escalates

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 9 2013

This dumpling soup does not contain dead babies. John Herschell/Flickr

When it comes to cracking down on online rumors, the Chinese government means business. Last week Global Voices Advocacy wrote that more than 450 netizens have been arrested and detained by the authorities. On Monday China's Supreme Court released a document that clarifies the offenses that can land netizens behind bars, and it boils down to a numbers game. Any post that passes a viewing and reposting threshold can be considered serious defamation.

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WeGov

Can Facebook India Convince 17 Million New Voters To Register?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, September 9 2013

Screenshot of the Facebook India announcement

Last week the Times of India announced they are collaborating with Facebook in their campaign to enroll voters, especially young voters. Facebook India users will now have the option of adding 'Registered to Vote' to their Facebook profile, under the section for Life Events – Travel & Experiences.

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WeGov

The Rise of 'Selfless' Selfies in Online Activism

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, September 6 2013

Take selfies to be proud of, be a selfie activist (Helga Weber/Flickr)

The selfie portrait, omnipresent on most social networking sites, starting with MySpace, has recently found a higher calling: activism. Last month Filipinos organized an online protest of public transit fare hikes under the hashtag #StrikeTheHike. They encouraged supporters to upload selfies with protest messages to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Another #SelfieProtest in the Philippines is already under way, calling for the abolishment of the “pork barrel” budgeting system following a corruption scandal implicating at least three senators.

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WeGov

In Italy, Online Tool Monitors Aid Money Post-Earthquake

BY Antonella Napolitano | Friday, September 6 2013

The main map on Open Ricostruzione website show the damages in the area and the donations received

On May 20, 2012, I was awakened suddenly at 4 a.m. in my apartment in Milan. It didn't take long for me to find out that most of Northern Italy had experienced the same that night. A 5.9-magnitude earthquake had hit nearby in Emilia-Romagna, the region just below Lombardy, causing severe damages in cities and villages and 27 deaths. While rescue and emergency efforts went relatively smoothly, rebuilding was entirely another matter. In Italy, the construction industry has often been at the center of corruption scandals and one of the most recent ones had started with an earthquake. But with the help of an online platform, those in Emilia-Romagna were determined not to repeat the mistakes of L'Aquila, where aid money allegedly disappeared into the pockets of corrupt politicians. Read More

WeGov

Getting Social About Water To Save Lives

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 5 2013

Every year more than 750,000 children under the age of five die after contracting diarrheal disease. Many of those deaths could be prevented if only the children had access to safe drinking water. A new smartphone app called mWater will try to tackle that problem through what they call social water monitoring. USAID thinks there's something to the idea: they just invested US$100,000 in their pilot project in Tanzania.

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WeGov

Why Did Mobile Money Flop In Nigeria?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, September 5 2013

Two years have passed since a mobile money service was deployed by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and it still has yet to catch on with the masses. According to a recent poll by the Nigerian research company NOI, only 6 out of 10 Nigerians know about the service (59 percent), and of that number only 13 percent are using it.

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WeGov

Malaysia Crowdsources 2014 Budget

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 4 2013

Prime Minister Razak (Wikipedia)

The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, is crowdsourcing the 2014 National Budget. A dedicated website has been set up for the initiative, where citizens can log in through their Facebook or Twitter accounts and submit their suggestions and requests. Other users can then thumbs up or thumbs down a suggestion.

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WeGov

One-Size-Fits-All Toolkit For Gathering Information In A Crisis

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, September 4 2013

The thing about crises is that they can take you by surprise. Although governments and humanitarian organizations do their best to prepare, it's nice to have something to fall back on in any situation, something like an emergency first aid kit for NGOs. The nonprofit media support organization Internews thought so too, which is why they partnered with Columbia University's Modi Research Group and Captricity to create the Humanitarian Data Toolkit.

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WeGov

Lebanese Army Tries to Stem Tide of Violence With New Smartphone App

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, September 3 2013

Fireworks or gunshots? Who knows--check Way to Safety (baron valium/Flickr)

Tech-savvy entrepreneurs in Lebanon are making the streets safer to walk by warning users of gunfights, roadblocks and other hazards. The smartphone app Ma2too3a takes crowdsourced information about protests, traffic and conflict and maps it. Another app analyzes sounds and can tell you if what you're hearing is gunfire or something less threatening, like fireworks. Taking their cues from the public demand for this kind of tool, the Lebanese army last week released their own security app called LAF Shield.

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WeGov

How Do You Prepare For A Disaster That Could Kill More Than 300,000 People?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, September 3 2013

Aerial view of damage to Wakuya, Japan, following 2011 earthquake (U.S. Navy/Flickr)

An earthquake in the Nankai Trough, off of the southern coast of Japan's Honshu Island, could kill up to 323,000 people and cause ¥220 trillion (US$2.21 trillion) in damages. Or at least, those are the worst case scenario projections by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Disaster Prevention Council. To prepare for the potential calamity, the Japanese government is building an electronic mapping system in advance of the potential earthquake.

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