As countries begin to stabilize their processes around coping with COVID-19, we’re highlighting positive efforts within the digital space to continue and improve programming, despite prevailing challenges. Institutions like the Center for Bioengineering and Design at John Hopkins for example, are implementing virtual design challenges to rapidly prototype tech-enabled solutions to the COVID-19 crisis.
Also this week, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), launched its first-ever Digital Strategy to "advance development and humanitarian assistance through the responsible use of digital technology in a digital age." You can learn more about its impact on the democracy, rights, and governance space from Michelle Parker, Senior Policy Advisor in USAID’s Center for Digital Development at the first “virtual” Technology 4 Democracy Happy Hour on April 22nd.
Top weekly tech articles curated for you:
- Paraguay's case study of its National Innovation Strategy offers lessons on how to achieve innovation at a national scale through the government's readiness, community-based co-creation, and human-centered design thinking.
- In Taiwan, early intervention by the government has resulted in no new COVID-19 cases reported as of April 14th. Experts have attributed this success to a healthy democratic system, with a vibrant civic tech space within the country.
- Activists have also shifted their advocacy techniques, switching from in-person mass gatherings to virtual environments instead. New tools are currently being developed by organizations like the Human Rights Campaign (HCR) to help in pushing for change, while social distancing.
- In a robust and sophisticated response to halt the spread of COVID-19, Apple and Google have said they are building software into smartphones that would notify users if they were recently in contact with someone who was infected with COVID-19. Apple CEO Tim Cook said on Twitter that the tool would help curb the virus’s spread “in a way that also respects transparency & consent.” Google CEO Sundar Pichai also posted on Twitter that the tool has “strong controls and protections for user privacy.”
- New America highlights initiatives from non-profits, grassroots groups, and local governments that are helping those who have been hit hardest by the COVID-19 crisis, showcasing examples of community resilience during the pandemic.
- The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), has published guidelines and recommendations for ensuring your remote meetings are accessible and inclusive.
Democracy Food for Thought
- Recently, the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) released a report detailing the complexities of the Nigerian political landscape, including ongoing inter-ethnic strife and insecurity, that has resulted in the growing spread of disinformation on social media platforms.
- The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the demand for moving services online, including voting. A new paper from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) aims to assist electoral stakeholders in determining whether internet voting would improve electoral integrity and active democracy or instead undermine public trust and compromise the security of the electoral process.
- The Impacts of Civic Technology Conference (TICTeC) from mySociety held its first online conference last month, and has shared some of its lessons learned from their experience.