Citizen-Centered

Citizen-Centered

Weekly Roundup 7/20/18

A six-member team of researchers published a report on the effectiveness of SMS messages to change voter perceptions in the 2016 Uganda district elections. Using information from Uganda Office of the Auditor General, the team sent texts about local corruption to constituents and measured post-election voting patterns.

Garbage In, Garbage Out: Tech Tools in Fighting Disinformation of Voters

Garbage In, Garbage Out: Tech Tools in Fighting Disinformation of Voters

NDItech Goes to (Tech) Camp

NDItech Goes to (Tech) Camp

Why is a Democracy Organization into Blockchain?

Why is a Democracy Organization into Blockchain?

We're Hiring! Software Engineer

We're Hiring! Software Engineer

NDI, Software Development, and the Long Haul

NDI, Software Development, and the Long Haul

How Smart Automation Can Be Used In International Development

How Smart Automation Can Be Used In International Development

We're Hiring! Product Management, Internship, Systems Engineers...

We're Hiring! Product Management, Internship, Systems Engineers...

TechCivica: Empowering Citizens through Tech Innovation

TechCivica: Empowering Citizens through Tech Innovation

Projects

Blog

By Julia Rhodes | October 12, 2018
Internet of things
Good news! California just passed a law requiring all Internet-of-things (IoT) devices to have unique, secure password. According to Broadband Genie’s survey of UK and US consumers, 51% of respondents hadn’t taken any kind of security precaution for their IoT knick-knacks. However, with simple username-password combinations (think: admin/admin), wireless routers, internet-connected cameras, and even the unsuspecting microwave can serve as vectors for attacks. The infamous Mirai...
By Julia Rhodes | October 1, 2018
Roughtime
Last week, Cloudflare announced it would support Google’s Roughtime, a protocol that (roughly) keeps the internet’s clocks in synch. Accurate time is critical for cybersecurity, particularly for verifying encryption (SSL) certificates. (You might see these as the “Secure” or “Not Secure” lock icons in your address bar.) Network Time Protocol (NTP) usually governs clock synchronization, but it lacks strong security protections. That’s where Google...
By Julia Rhodes | September 21, 2018
junk news
On September 9th, Swedes took to the polls to vote for a new prime minister and members of parliament. Studying a sample of Twitter posts in the run-up to the elections, researchers at the Oxford Internet Institute found that 22% of shared content specifically about the election was Junk News (an actual term), or deliberately misleading information that does not link back to a credible source. In contrast, Professional News accounted for 52% of all election-related posts. As such, the...
By Julia Rhodes | September 14, 2018
Journalism
Last week, the 172-year-old Associated Press (AP) announced a collaboration with the little over twelve-month-old Civil Media Company, a blockchain-based news organization. The partnership will provide Civil with content, as well as offer new use-cases for the technology, from establishing ownership rights to tracking readership. Outside of AP, organizations like the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ) and Splice, in addition to a cohort of established media figures, have joined the...
By Ben Lynch | August 30, 2018
User experiencw testing
As anyone who has spent time in tech knows, “designing good software” is as complicated as the term is simple. It’s easy to come up with ideas and improvements for your products. But the actual implementation is full of pitfalls that keep you from a high quality product. Buggy code will make your product unusable; feature creep can make it overly complex; and poor user experience (UX) design can make it impossible to navigate. These headaches can seem insurmountable when even...
By Noble Ackerson | August 22, 2018
citizen centered design
  “We shape our tools and, thereafter our tools shape us…”  — John Culkin (1967)   It’s amazing what humanity can do with the right tools. If you’ve ever looked up the work of Marshall McLuhan, he talks about how even the basic things we create change our outlook on life, politics and society. The light bulb, for example, changed what time of day we can commune with each other. Before the invention of the wheel, we didn’t have roads, the...
By Ben Lynch | August 10, 2018
Telerivet phones ready to go
When my colleague Jared and I landed in Bamako, I was expecting to head to our hotel, have an early dinner, and then grab the sleep we missed out on during our plane ride over, so that we would be prepared to get to work the next morning. Instead, plans were quickly set and we had an hour to settle in before a car arrived to whisk us away to the recently opened data center. With the first round of Mali’s presidential elections five days away, time was at a premium to make sure systems...
By Julia Rhodes | August 7, 2018
Zimbabwe election
On July 30th, six million Zimbabweans took to the polls to elect new members of parliament and a new president. Taking place less than a year after former President Robert Mugabe’s longtime rule was brought to an end, these elections presented “an historic opportunity to break with the past 18 years of political crisis and mark the beginning of a genuine democratic transition.”  The incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who played a role removing Mugabe from power, led...
By Julia Rhodes | July 20, 2018
SMS
A six-member team of researchers published a report on the effectiveness of SMS messages to change voter perceptions in the 2016 Uganda district elections. Using information from Uganda Office of the Auditor General, the team sent texts about local corruption to constituents and measured post-election voting patterns. Compared to the control group, citizens who received negative news about candidates were not less likely to report voting for the incumbent chairperson, but were 3%...
By Julia Rhodes | July 6, 2018
Social media stylized
On July 1st, Uganda’s Excise Duty (Amendment) Bill went into effect, placing taxes on electronic transactions and social media use. The regulation compels telecom companies to charge mobile access for sites like Twitter, Facebook, and WhatsApp. Customers must now pay 200 Ugandan shillings, or $0.05, per day to use social media platforms. Before the tax, 1 GB of broadband access cost more than 15% of the average monthly income. Because the price increase targets mobile users, it...
By Julia Rhodes | June 29, 2018
stylized blockchain
‘Twas the week of blockchain! Brazil’s central bank unveiled plans to use a blockchain-powered platform for sharing information between financial regulators; South Korea published a blockchain development strategy; and Malta took steps to become the world’s first “Blockchain Island.” These are only a few of the projects included in a list of over 200 applications of blockchain used by governments (as well as for buying and selling CryptoKitties.) Also this week,...
By Chris Doten | June 26, 2018
variety of tools
In technology, you often hear geeks referencing the classic “garbage in, garbage out” problem. When the inputs to a system are bad, however beautifully crafted the program itself may be, the outputs will necessarily be bad as well. Our democratic systems are dependent on the input of citizens, but when disinformation is also an input the outputs of our processes can be deeply flawed. Disinformation and the systemic distrust it fuels has been a dangerous ingredient in the global...