MobileActive08: m-democracy

m-democracy: mobile technology in citizen participation
José Carlos Vaz

We’re only starting is this sphere, so we have only questions. Questions are: how can we use this technology in budgeting and accountability (these two are different areas of focus: deliberative vs. accountability applications), and what are the barriers and opportunities. Focus on Southern countries.

Currently, effective local government processes seldom use much ICT. Some success in parts of Brazil, where budget debate included cellphones. Mexico some financial accountability stuff.

Why so little? Cultural — people like face to face meetings. Economic — expensive.

Can m-democracy make e-democracy more effective? Speaker claims mobile apps easier to use (though it depends, I suppose, on what you’re used to). Definitely, and especially in the global South, people are more familiar with phones, and are much more likely, obviously, to actually have them.

Speaker argues that local government does not get enough focus from grant-makers and policy makers, obviously especially in the mobile space. If local government improves, the rest of our actions will be far more effective.

Actions: another exhortation to make networks and connections, to push information and case studies to a broader audience; as well as donors.

Discussion: I raised the point that often successful models of accountability have been peer-to-peer messaging, without government, rather than up-and-down between government and citizens. Some examples from Philippines raised, again mostly mobilisation of people rather than up-and-down. Important issue in adoption: need to use technology to amplify existing social groups, rather than targeted at individuals.

One thought on “MobileActive08: m-democracy

  1. Thanks for keeping us up to date. Interesting. It seems we have only begun to imagine what mobile applications will be. What a great field to be in.


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