The governance field is preoccupied with the question of how we can make democracy work better.
One of the more promising and talked-about fields in this discussion is ‘civic tech’, the smart use of online platforms and tools that better connect people with their governments. But serious questions remain about how civic tech can make change happen, and what we're learning from the explosion of projects trying to harness its tremendous potential.
In one of three background papers prepared for the Making All Voices Count ‘Transforming Governance’ learning event, held in Manila, in February 2016, Matt Leighninger considers the extent to which different forms of civic tech enable citizens to engage with governance processes.
The author looks at three civic tech approaches to that have helped citizens to influence governance processes:
- Governance through Twitter in Jun, Spain, where citizens and the local government engage proactively via this social media platform.
- Generating and prioritising policy in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, where a tailor-made multi-channel approach has actively involved citizens in policy decisions.
- Connecting diaspora in a global crisis, in which the West African diaspora in Minnesota, USA, used web-based technology and apps to change how stakeholders engaged during the recent Ebola crisis.
These three case studies provide examples of how civic tech can be used effectively. But which elements from these are the most relevant for others looking to transform governance?