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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:

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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

Teacamp: Where British Civil Servants Go to Brew Change From Within

BY Wendy M. Grossman | Tuesday, September 3 2013

Sir Nigel Hawthorne, the star of "Yes, Minister," having a cup of tea.

After years where even the hint of blogging might get a British civil servant fired, in the last few years, things have begun to open up. One manifestation of the change is a regular gathering of a hundred or more civil servants known as "teacamp," which brings together like-minded staff from across the British government to compare notes and share ideas on how they are using social media and open data to change their relationship to the general public. Longtime tech writer Wendy Grossman reports on the scene, and asks just how much it is actually a sign of real change. Read More

WeGov

Mexican Villagers Best the Big, Bad Telecom By Building Their Own

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, August 30 2013

In a still from the Rhizomatica video below, villagers meet to discuss the community mobile phone service.

In a Mexican town so remote and so small that no major telecom company wants to provide cell phone coverage, the locals built their own tower and phone service provider. They're now paying 13 times less than someone on a basic plan in Mexico City, according to the AFP.

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WeGov

Gezi Park and The Turkey Uprising As You've Never Seen It Before

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, August 30 2013

Still from Taksim Commune

The film opens with the sound of explosive clapping, drumming and chanting. The first images are of destroyed streets, smoke blossoming from an improvised barricade and men standing defiantly on a pile of bricks. Then a shot of an injured man being carried by four others, all with their mouths and noses covered by scarves or masks. These are the opening scenes of Taksim Commune: Gezi Park and The Uprising In Turkey, a short documentary that captures not only the conflict that marred the protest, but the jubilation and energy that defined it first.

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WeGov

A "Merkel-App" for German Voters

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, August 29 2013

Screenshot of the Merkel-App

The German Conservative CDU party has launched a mobile "Merkel-App" a little less than a month before the German election on September 22 and a few days before the race's only televised debate on September 1. Read More

WeGov

Tunisian Activist Thanks Chelsea Manning For Sparking The Arab Spring

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, August 29 2013

Manning (Wikipedia)

Sami Ben Gharbia, the Founding Director of Global Voices Advocacy and co-founder of the citizen journalism blog nawaat.org, published a tribute to Chelsea Manning, previously known as Bradley Manning, on Medium yesterday. In it he calls her a deity of a “new mythology,” and an inspirational and iconic figure. It is really the story of TuniLeaks and the beginning of the Arab Spring, told by an active participant, but framed as an illustration of the effect that Manning has had by releasing those infamous cables. Read More

WeGov

Young Sudanese, 'Hungry' for Change, Take Up Crisis Mapping and Blogging

BY Amanda Sperber | Thursday, August 29 2013

Screenshot of the Facebook page for civil society initiative, Nafeer (Nafeer/Facebook)

You can’t use a credit card anywhere in Sudan, but that national hindrance doesn’t really compare to the situation in Darfur, the extreme poverty and the repressive authoritarian government headed by International Criminal Court indicted Omar al-Bashir. Despite or perhaps because of this, Sudan is seeing a small, but strong and steady growth of activism and mobilization through tech. Read More

WeGov

[Op-Ed] Doing Crowdsourcing Justice

BY Daren C. Brabham | Thursday, August 29 2013

Certainly there are limits to crowdsourcing information that need to be acknowledged, as the article “The Downsides to Crowdsourcing” points out. Crowdsourcing’s arrival in the public sector brings with it plenty of fanfare and exciting promises, and, sure, also a lot of hype and hot air. But let us not throw the baby out with the bath water when it comes to crowdsourcing. Read More

WeGov

The Open Data Tool That's Getting Thousands All Over Africa to the Polls

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 28 2013

Screenshot of GoToVote! ZW

A “get out the vote” initiative that began in Kenya is spreading across Africa to countries like Ghana, South Africa and now Zimbabwe. On July 31, Zimbabwe's election day, thousands of voters knew where to go because of a simple online tool called GoToVote! ZW. It saved those citizens the usual hassle of searching for their polling station.

Read More

WeGov

Canada's First Hackathon for International Development

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, August 27 2013

This weekend nearly 40 Canadians came together for their country's first ever hackathon for International Development, sponsored by the nonprofit Citizen Attaché. In only 48 hours the 40 Canadians created six new tools using open data.

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WeGov

The Downsides to Crowdsourcing

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, August 26 2013

Crowdsourcing often makes its way into techPresident coverage, whether in a story about crisis mapping or election reporting. It has been a real boon for NGOs and government offices alike. Still, there are limits to the usefulness of crowdsourced information that must be acknowledged.

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WeGov

A Hackday For Teen Girls Tries to Close Gender Gap in India's Tech Sector

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, August 26 2013

More than 200 bright young girls came together at the Satvika 2013 technology conference last week for a hackday created just for them. It is one way entrepreneur Deepak Ravindran is pushing to close the gender gap in India's technology sector.

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WeGov

The Mumbai Gang Rape and the Digital Fingerprints of a Crime

BY Rebecca Chao | Monday, August 26 2013

CPOA/flickr

Last week in Mumbai, five men dragged a 23-year-old magazine intern behind a broken wall in the deserted Shakti Mills and raped her, documenting the brutality on their cell phones through video and photos. They then threatened to publicize the footage if she tattled and forced her to clean up the crime scene. But even before they committed the heinous act, they had paved a digital trail of evidence. Read More

WeGov

Bribespot Thailand: Effective Anti-Corruption Tool Or Mere Outlet For Disgruntled Victims?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Friday, August 23 2013

Screenshot of Bribespot Thailand

An anti-corruption intiative originally from Lithuania has been repurposed in Thailand. Bribespot Thailand officially launched two weeks ago, and already has more than 80 official reports of bribes demanded. The nonprofit hopes the initiative will empower citizens to report bribery in the public sector immediately, and to raise the Thai authorities' awareness of the scope and pervasiveness of petty corruption.

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WeGov

How Social Media Could Save Disgraced Chinese Politician Bo Xilai

BY Rebecca Chao | Friday, August 23 2013

A CCTV image of the Bo Xilai trial provided by 886 Happy Radio (快乐886电台) via Weibo

In an unprecedented move, the Chinese government is providing an official live feed of the corruption trial of disgraced politician Bo Xilai. They are streaming it via Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter and a search of his name (薄熙来) turns up nearly 1.5 million posts. Past trials have been closed affairs and what information is revealed after they conclude tend to be the carefully orchestrated portions of the trial. Read More

WeGov

Young and Naive YouTube Questions for German Politicians

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, August 22 2013

German Chancellor-Candidate Peer Steinbrück with Tilo Jung (Jung und Naiv/Facebook)

In the U.S., when politicians want to reach out to younger audiences, they often appear on the Daily Show or the Colbert Report. In the ongoing German campaign season leading up to the September 22 national election, politicians this year have been able to take advantage of a new outlet, inspired by those U.S. examples, to connect with a younger demographic. Since February, freelance German journalist Tilo Jung has gained attention with his YouTube series Jung & Naiv, a play on his name, but a title that also encapsulates the persona he takes on for the series which has the tagline "Politics for the Disinterested." Read More

WeGov

Is Facebook's New Connectivity Platform a Product of Benevolence or Greed?

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, August 22 2013

Facebook announced this week the launch of internet.org, an initiative to connect “the next five billion people,” according to a white paper by Mark Zuckerberg. In it he contends that connectivity is a human right, at least basic services like messaging, social networks, and search engines. Some are sure to be skeptical of Zuckerberg's benevolence, since he has already been accused of trying to take over the world wide web. Even more damning, the day following Facebook's announcement, a piece published in The Guardian suggested that Facebook's monopoly in Burma is hindering the progress of media.

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WeGov

Digital Technology and the Two Cambodias: Have and Have Not

BY Anne Nelson | Wednesday, August 21 2013

The price of dissent (credit: Anne Nelson)

While visitors to Phnom Penh might be impressed by the glass-and-steel towers and the rapid Internet access, the truth is that most Cambodians have no access to electricity, let alone WiFi. What does this mean for the development of this emerging Southeast Asian economy? Read More

WeGov

Crisis Mapping Becomes De Rigueur Tropical Storm Response in Philippines

BY Jessica McKenzie | Wednesday, August 21 2013

Screenshot of the Google map of the three day accumulated rainfall

When the Philippines suffered severe flooding last August, crisis responders used Twitter hashtags and a Google Doc to track calls for help and successful rescues. This year, in the wake of Tropical Storm Maring, Filipinos are using an official portal, through which anyone can submit a rescue request online or by text message which is then mapped. The same hashtags active last year are organizing the conversation this year, too: #rescuePH, #floodPH, #reliefPH and, in the event of a successful rescue, #SafeNow.

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WeGov

How Governments Should Release Open Data

BY Jessica McKenzie | Tuesday, August 20 2013

When releasing data, governments should know that format matters almost as much as content. If it is clean, well organized, complete and in a machine-readable format, even a nonprogrammer can make good use of it. A recent post from Craig Thomler, who blogs about eGovernment and Gov 2.0 in Australia, illustrates this point.

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WeGov

Citizen Journalism and mGovernance in Rural India

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, August 19 2013

Imagine nearly 20 million people without access to news and current events. In the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, language barriers, illiteracy, lack of Internet access and strict radio regulations exclude millions living in rural communities from the mainstream media. A voice messaging service called CGNet Swara overcomes those obstacles and empowers anyone in rural India with a cell phone to become a citizen journalist.

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