How do you engage civil society, media, government and others to increase impact?

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How do you engage civil society, media, government and others to increase impact?
  • What types of relationships have they formed with media, government, and civil society organizations to increase their impact?  What role do these partners and allies play?
  • What is the experience of transparency and ICT-focused organizations when it comes to sharing their knowledge with civil society organizations and others? What are the best practices and common mistakes?
  • How can we encourage more collaboration with other initiatives and with the public?   How can we encourage more sharing of experiences, expertise and best practices?

Share your experiences, thoughts, questions and ideas by adding a new comment below or replying to an existing comment!

Engaging with civil society& media

What types of relationships have they formed with media, government, and civil society organizations to increase their impact?  What role do these partners and allies play?

Government is not a homogenous entity and even within unresponsive governments, there are still some individuals within in who would like to provide better services to citizens. Identification of these persons, and working with them to see how they can be brought into the loop could also help bring about change.

The media is a vital partner in this tech for transparency work, and ensuring that either community or local media journalists are aware of the work that is happening and getting them involved in the story (understanding the data, extracting the story that is contained in the data) goes a long way in getting the media involved as partners in the work that CSOs are doing.

 

 

What is the experience of transparency and ICT-focused organizations when it comes to sharing their knowledge with civil society organizations and others? What are the best practices and common mistakes?

We should as practitioners and stakeholders think about the fragmentation in the tech for transparency space as there are sometimes multiple platforms all serving the same area and all working on the same issue. If the target is to get citizens using the platforms, the end result is that citizens might find it hard to navigate through the various initiatives that are out there. Solutions to this could be an aggregator of the various platforms that exist in a country or district/ state etc. and CSOs should also map out the various initiatives that are already present in the area they want to work in, and see how they can add value to these initiatives.

The tech is also a small part of the solution. The key question IMO is "What information do the citizens need in order to improve their lives?". For some that's e.g. the hospital with the lowest mortality rates, or schools with the lowest teacher absenteeism rate etc. etc. If we are able to know what information the citizens need to know, the rest will fall into place.  Solutions to this would be working very closely with citizens before building the platforms to find out what information they need, and also closely monitoring the usage once the platform is in place to see what resonates with the public, and what they are or are not searching for.

Hi Mendi and everyone, Thank

Hi Mendi and everyone,


Thank you for your comments. I fully agree that governments may be more willing than to work with individuals and groups than they are often thought to be. Citizens so easily and readily criticize their government without doing much about the situation. I found this article about stopping to complain and starting to improve the government. Ory Okolloh, frustrated by the lack of transparency in the Kenyan government, co-founded the website Mzalendo to keep an eye on her government.


From the website:


Mzalendo means Patriot in Swahili. Mzalendo is a volunteer run project whose mission is to “keep an eye on the Kenyan Parliament.” The project was started by two your like-minded Kenyan who were frustrated by the fact that it is difficult to hold Kenyan Members of Parliament (MPs) accountable for their performance largely because information about their work in Parliament is not easily accessible.


Are there other examples of successful projects of greater citizen involvement and monitoring of governments?

Advice on how to find allies in gov't and how to approach them?

Thank you, Mendi, for your thoughts on these questions!  I really like your ideas!  I wanted to share a few thoughts on one part of your comment, in particular:

mnjonjo wrote:

Government is not a homogenous entity and even within unresponsive governments, there are still some individuals within in who would like to provide better services to citizens. Identification of these persons, and working with them to see how they can be brought into the loop could also help bring about change.

Definitely!  The trick is to map out and understand who your allies are in the government so that you can bring them into the loop and help make your work effective. I think there are a lot of different ways that projects working on transparency collaborate with governments. Liz Wolf shared one example in the first discussion thread:

LizWolf wrote:

For Acesso Inteligente, we have a form that the user fills out and then a robot that is  connected to the websites of the ministries uses that information to our system is connected with the government`s system, but technically we do not have their "support", and it also wasn’t necessary. We asked permission to enter into the system, which we were granted, and then it started! Our development team programmed robots that fill in the government forms for requesting information, and therefore the procedure works as if you were requesting through the "official" way. We have had a very positive citizen response with this application. It was definitely something that wasn't available before, and has made it much easier for Chilean citizens to access public information!

Liz's project was able to utilize government systems and information that were already available, just not very easy to use.  It this example, it wasn't necessary to have government folks on board, but I guess that are technically "in the loop".

Another example from the first discussion thread is the OPEN database system developed by the municipal government in South Korea.  The people that came together to develop this system wanted to prevent corruption, too - they had a stake  in the system's success. 

There's a good chance that there are many government allies out there that are hoping that transparency groups will come to them with an idea to use technology for transparency - we just have to find those allies! 

In your transparency projects, such as:

how did you find your allies in the government?  How did you approach them with your idea for collaboration?  Can you share any advice?  Thanks!

Finding allies in the government/ parliament

Hi Kristin,

I don't think there is an universal way of finding allies. Sometimes it's easy to see which parties would support you but it's important to find individual allies or at least some access in the non-supporting parties as well. I still find this quite tricky. It can be helpful to monitor debates in parliament to see who speaks and if some look more open than others. Also political newcomers might be more open than top decision makers. In federal systems it might also be interesting to look into the state level parliaments (parties can be more open if they are in opposition in a certain state even if they are unsupportive in government on the federal level). Things like this - and it needs time which most of us lack most the time ;-)

Best regards,

Uli

New "window" of opportunity with the Open Government Initiative

While reading your comments I realized the importance of the recently launched "Open Government Partnership"  http://www.opengovpartnership.org where eight different countries from all over the world signed a declaration and the governments who signed the agreement stressed the importance on civic participation and alliances with civil society, they said:

We value public participation of all people, equally and without discrimination, in decision making and policy formulation. Public engagement, including the full participation of women, increases the effectiveness of governments, which benefit from people’s knowledge, ideas and ability to provide oversight. We commit to making policy formulation and decision making more transparent, creating and using channels to solicit public feedback, and deepening public participation in developing, monitoring and evaluating government activities. We commit to protecting the ability of not-for-profit and civil society organizations to operate in ways consistent with our commitment to freedom of expression, association, and opinion. We commit to creating mechanisms to enable greater collaboration between governments and civil society organizations and businesses.

 I think that media is sometimes a complicated ally, especially in those countries where there is no independent media at all. However, projects can dedicate a small amount of budget and time to get a small advertising banner in newspaper or an interview on television to reach more people and achieve better results.

How have you engaged the media to promote your campaign/project?

mnjonjo wrote:

The media is a vital partner in this tech for transparency work, and ensuring that either community or local media journalists are aware of the work that is happening and getting them involved in the story (understanding the data, extracting the story that is contained in the data) goes a long way in getting the media involved as partners in the work that CSOs are doing.

Many of the stories that have been shared in this dialogue rely on the participation of citizens.  Citizens share their complaints, they share their ideas for solutions, they collect important information, they share important information - you get the point.  How do you get all of these citizens onto your platform and using it??  I imagine that the media is an important tool to get the word out. 

New Tactics has hosted an online dialogue focused on tactics for engaging the media.  You might find that conversation useful for thinking about new ways to engage the media, or you may find that the examples are quite similar to your own work.  PLease share how have you all engaged the media in unique and creative ways.  What role did the media play in the success of your project?  It would be great to have some specific examples documented here!

Aggregator

Hi Mendi,

an aggregator for various platforms is an important question. Although looking for a perfect solution to combine all interesting informations and platforms can be a stumble stone as well.

Last year we thought about something like a shared reference system where lobby groups, corporations or persons would get an unique ID/ code. That could be included by different websites of watchdog groups or investigative media and than those sites could be found via the reference system. So instead of working on software combining different platforms the platforms would be run separately just linked via the reference system. But we never implemented the idea (so far)

Greetings, Uli

Uniform Platform and Engaging Society

Hi Mendi,

We are a group of people with background in technology services and consultation. We have recently become social entrepreneurs.

Thinking of applying technology to sort issues of corruption, illegal and anti-social activities, we came up with the idea of www.micro-leaks.com

This platform with a simple interface, we beleive has the power to become a single point of recording issues of public concern by citizens, NGO, activists ect.

Please read my other posts to understand the power of this platform and better still visit www.micro-leaks.com. 

The key highlights of the platform  are:

1) Visual represenation of all issues on a Global Map with precise location of where exactly on the map does the issue relate to.

2) Structured information for deciplined input and ease of filtering/searching for analysis.

3) Simple yet powerful search/filter functionality.

If I were to look ahead, I think this platform can serve most needs. Say if people start reporting teacher absenteeism in schools, a simple filtering on the 'leaks' can visually layout where the problem is the highest.

More over the information is(/could be) fed by citizens itself i.e. by 'Crowd Sourcing' information the platform automatically builds the data related to most pressing issues.

I would love to hear your views/feedback about this platform - to waht extent it can be of use for your purpose? What other functions could be built to make it more robust and useful.

regards,

Nitin

I can already reference bits

I can already reference bits of my posts from the last 2 days to answer this in part -- increasing impact:

a) remove copyright-based legal barriers http://www.newtactics.org/en/thread/how-have-you-used-technology-promote...

b) use cheap/resilient/universal technology http://www.newtactics.org/en/thread/how-does-use-technology-promote-tran...

How to engage governments, civil society, etc around these best practices? I see (at least) four broad categories, all complementary:

1) create understanding within relevant organizations of why these best practies "make sense" not just for the organization, but for society -- roughly, create advocates

2) use best practice implementation to create community around the organizations in question

3) use best pratice implementation to bring organization into best pratice community (hackathons are a typical tool for this and above)

4) create understanding/advocates among funders/policymakers relevant to organizations in question; mandate

online+offline

Hi everyone

For civil engagement I would suggest to combine/complement online strategies with offline strategies for dissemination and activities to activate new information flows and interaction dynamics between the project and the users/citizens.

For instance, for Todos somos dateros we came out with the "Datero movil" (Mobile datero), an itinerant “information-generation platform” that gathers and provides information in bus stops and stations. Also, we published "El Periódico Datero" (Datero Newspaper) that summarizes the outcome of first six month and gathers contributions by specialists. El Periódico Datero was freely distributed in the stations.

 

 

 

 

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