11 New Initiatives Using Technology to Advocate for Greater Transparency & Accountability

Posted March 16, 2013 by Susannah Vila

This is part of a series of posts from the engine room’s collaboration with the Transparency International People Engagement Programme

The Transparency International People Engagement Programme recently awarded grants to country chapters with ideas for mobilizing more people in their countries around anti-corruption campaigns. The common thread among these new initiatives was a clear recognition of the potential that web and mobile-based technologies have to engage people. Each project faces a distinct set of challenges. Learn more about them below – and get in touch if you are interested in becoming involved. Each project is still in development and the majority aim to go live before June.

Shedding Light on Political Party Funding in Sweden: Open Funds will rank parties according to their level of transparency using a set of 9 indicators. To put more pressure on political parties, they will create graphics to visualize the indicators and spread these graphics through a Twitter campaign. Their biggest obstacle will be building a critical mass of engagement around the project. To do this, they’re looking for allies in Sweden with social media and digital marketing expertise.

Monitoring Local Councils in Chile: Munidatos – developed by the team a Chile Transparente – will aggregate and visualize data about the activities in all 345 local councils in Chile. By making the data more accessible, the initiative aims to play a role in creating a more informed Chilean citizenry. As with Open Funds, Munidatos’ main challenges include finding ways to drum up enough interest to ensure that people know about it.

Surfacing Data About the Slovakian Judicial Performance: The Slovakian chapter is hard at work building a system of indicators to rank judges according to how transparent and accountable they are. In addition to finding all of the necessary data, their main challenge thus far has been finding the best methodology to create representative indicators of judicial performance. Data analysis geeks should get in touch with them.

Citizen Monitoring of Public Works Projects in Perú: Proética is building an application that brings together various, distinct transparency tools provided by the Peruvian government to make data about public works projects more accessible and user friendly. Once the tool is ready – and their biggest obstacle thus far has been turning the prototype created at a hackathon into a fully functioning product – Proética will pilot it with an existing network of anti-corruption allies throughout the country.

Rewarding Doctors that Don’t Ask For Bribes in Ukraine: Aybolit will encourage Ukranians to send in reports of positive experiences with health services. The goal is to reward medical institutions that do not solicit bribes. Their thinking is that hospitals will want to stand out as less corrupt in advance of an upcoming restructuring of the national health system, which may shut down certain hospitals. Aybolit’s biggest challenge lies in running a strong community engagement effort. 

Mobile Gaming Against Corruption in Hungary: The Hungarian chapter of TI is developing two new mobile games. One, Cheat or Starve, guides users towards learning about how corruption undermines a community. The team’s main challenge will be ensuring that their games, though introducing serious content, are actually fun to play. They are also looking to form strategic partnerships and are building an outreach plan that will include collaborations with schools.

Focusing on Mobile in Zimbabwe: Online platforms don’t make a lot of sense when internet penetration is less than 12%, but technology is still a potentially useful tool to engage more people with anti-corruption activities. In the case of TI-Zimbabwe, they are soliciting reports of experiences with corruption using SMS. These reports are then channeled to the TI ALAC center.

Citizen Monitoring of Anti-Corruption Courts in Indonesia: TI-Indonesia will be adding to its existing citizen corruption reporting work by creating a tool to monitor ongoing anti-corruption court cases. Users will be able to observe the progress of cases and then rate verdicts. The aim is to mitigate widespread distrust of the judicial system. Their biggest challenge is finding the resources to push the tool out to a wider audience.

Monitoring Faulty Infrastructure in Cambodia: In what will be the Transparency International movement’s second adaptation of the “Fix My Street” model (TI-Georgia has pioneered this), TI-Cambodia is building an online platform for reports of infrastructure issues. Called Cherybelle, it was built at the global hackathon held at the end of 2012. As with many of the innovation projects above, Cherybelle has a sense of the users they will target – youth – but face hurdles in mobilizing them to participate.

Crowdsourced corruption reporting in Malaysia: Malaysia is one of many chapters interested in integrating online reporting platforms into their work. It can be a useful outreach tool, but especially if it is paired with a strong community engagement strategy and the organization’s existing programmatic work.

Strengthening the Impact of Crowdsourcing in Macedonia: Online reporting platforms can be a great outreach tool for Transparency International chapters looking to engage more people with their work. These platforms likely have greater impact when integrated with existing programmatic work, such as Advocacy and Legal Advice Centers (ALACs). ALACs channel incoming reports to appropriate institutions in order to solicit responses. The team at TI Macedonia will be working to create an application that will seamlessly integrate their ALACs database with their Ushahidi platform.

As you can see, most of these initiatives focus on enabling public access to information. Enabling easier access to data is incredibly important. However, for these projects to generate public pressure for greater transparency and accountability, they will have to engage and mobilize people – not just improve access.

We’re working with these initiatives to find folks who have the right skill sets to enhance their impact. If you think that’s you – get in touch!

Update: You can already get involved in Sweden’s Open Funds project.
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Comments
  • Susannah Vila says: April 5th, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    This project assessed transparency and accountability in the Guatemalan judicial sector:

    http://www.transparenciajudicial-gt.org/

    (via @globalintegrity)

  • Solwv says: April 6th, 2013 at 8:16 pm

    I totally agree that corruption is a big problem in our modern society (western or not). I am gratelly concerned with the fact that democracy, as it is now, is abused by political parties who are dependent on donors and hence interests-centres or who have hidden agendas. We have seen the same “play” again and again, where politicians promise A and once elected do B. This is because, politicians, like high level executives, know that they have limited time in power and hence often abuse their capacity to ensure their future financially and within the system. The only way to stop this is trasparency and direct democracy where citizens can have a say at any moment in time. The Internet now provides that capacity. The problem is how to ensure that citizens are not mislead. For this reason a transparency and macro-micro economical tool providing information to citizens about what the right decision should be, are essential tools to enable a true democracy. People are much more connected and educated and hence direct democracy could be successful. If anyone is working on these I would be very interested in getting involved/helping.
    All the best.

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