Module 3 Topic 6 (ICT)
The ICT tools introduced so far can be useful when implementing transparency, accountability, and/or participation approaches. However, many traditional CSOs working on these fields do not have the resources to develop or customize existing ICT tools. Therefore, it is important to build bridges with the members of the software developing community that are interested on working with public information (also known as “civic hackers”). In some countries, these two groups are starting to join forces to reach their common goal through collective initiatives such as hackathons and open data apps contests. A hackathon, a term formed by combining ‘hack’ and ‘marathon’, is an event when computer programmers meet to work on computer programming in collaborative manner. As can be imagined from a term ‘marathon’, it usually lasts for few days in order for the programmers to hack data and produce innovative solutions on particular issues and problems.
Sometimes CSOs, technology experts and governments join forces to launch projects using ICT for public service monitoring or civic participation. Often CSOs are able to build on their existing relationships with government bodies to come to an agreement on how government can support an ICT project. One example of those joint ventures is Checkmyschool in the Philippines where the Department of Education signed an agreement with the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability in East Asia and the Pacific. This project is a key example of collaboration between government, private sector and civil society in which the community’s use of data is facilitated through an “infomediary” that serves as a link or “bridge” between the technology and the less digitally-able citizens in poor and far-flung communities.
Another way of collaboration between different groups is through the development of platforms that might enhance social accountability on one hand, and on the other, the process of adapting those platforms that are already in the market to fit the work of other CSOs. One example of a platform that could be adapted to different countries is Alaveteli (for ATI requests), which was previously mentioned..