Blog

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...
By Julia Rhodes | June 22, 2018
Weekly Roundup
This week, the Reuters Institute and the University of Oxford released the annual Digital News Report, a survey of 37 countries and 74,000 participants. The report finds that respondents are increasingly using WhatsApp to consume news. Particularly in Malaysia, Brazil, and Turkey, individuals find that WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption creates a safer space to seek out information on contentious topics. At the same time, WhatsApp has also facilitated the spread of false rumors about the...
By Julia Rhodes | June 15, 2018
Weekly Roundup
Welcome back to our weekly roundup! Artificial intelligence may play a role countering false news in Brazil’s general elections this October. Although automated bots have contributed to the spread of viral misinformation in Brazil, some are designed to promote political transparency. Social bot Stilingue will help politicians communicate with citizens while Rosie will keep candidates accountable. (Last year alone, Rosie analyzed public expenditures and flagged 8,000 suspicious...
By Zoe Chandra | June 13, 2018
Hello, World!
Hello, World! My name is Zoe Chandra and I am thrilled to be part of NDITech as an intern this summer. As a rising sophomore at Dartmouth College, I have been able to explore a variety of academic disciplines. I have enjoyed taking courses in anything from computer programming to public policy to global poverty. The multi-disciplinary and integrative nature of NDI’s work attracted me to this internship, as NDI provides an environment where my many interests intersect. As the political...
By Julia Rhodes | June 5, 2018
Hello world
Hello, world! My name is Julia Rhodes, and I’m excited to join NDItech as their new Intern. As a soon-to-be graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, I look forward to pursuing my passion for human rights and finding innovative ways to protect them. I grew up in Delaware – a state small in size but full of engaged and connected people. From participating in phone-banks for local government to volunteering with Teach For America summer camps, I saw how...
By Evan Summers | May 22, 2018
NDItech trainer talks DemTools with participants at TechCamp Guatemala
The last few months, we here at NDItech have had the great opportunity to talk civic innovation, transparency and accountability with dozens of civic groups, journalists and government officials through a few TechCamps and PeaceTech Exchanges. These programs, put on by the State Department and PeaceTech Lab, respectively, link technical experts with innovators across the globe to brainstorm, “pitch” and ultimately bring to life smart, contextualized tech solutions to pressing...
By Priyal Bhatt | April 25, 2018
Now Hiring!
“Innovating for Democracy:” I was struck by that phrase when I first learned about NDI and the work we do promoting democracy across the globe. How can you bridge the disconnect between today’s digital citizens with a smartphone and the world in their pocket, and the often antiquated methods utilized by political organizations with low technology adoption and engagement? At NDItech, we aim to do just that. Through our DemTools initiative and support to field offices in over 70...