$45 Million Open Government Challenge Stresses Mobile Tech
Public-private partnership looks to develop Web and mobile technologies for better governance in Africa and Asia.
IBM Smarter Cities Challenge: 10 Towns Raise Tech IQs
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has launched a competition to develop Web and mobile technologies that can be used to promote open government in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
The competition, called Making All Voices Count, is the result of a public-private partnership among USAID, the Swedish government, the U.K.'s Department of International Development and Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm established by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife.
The competition will start accepting proposals in spring 2013 for tech projects aimed at improving government performance and helping new governments serve their citizens. The effort is aimed primarily at nations in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
Organizers point to the proliferation of mobile technology as making the time right for this kind of open government initiative. Three-quarters of the world's population has access to mobile phones, according to a USAID spokeswoman. Over the past two years, subscriptions to wireless services have grown from under one billion to more than six billion, with the majority of growth in developing countries, she said.
In South Africa, mobile penetration has reached 100% of the population, while in Indonesia and Kenya, it stands at 75% and growing, according to USAID. "This mobile revolution has the potential to not only deepen citizen engagement, but facilitate the government's response," she said.
Competition organizers have established a $45 million fund to support the effort. USAID is contributing $15 million, with the balance coming from the other three partners.
"The problem we are trying to solve is a lack of evidence around what works in terms of citizen-government collaboration," the USAID spokeswoman said. "Therefore, metrics for funds we provide will be specific, measurable, additive and time-bound."
The competition was inspired by the Open Government Partnership, a group of more than 50 countries that have endorsed the principles of open government and adopted individual action plans in each member country. The United States is one of eight founding members.
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security EnterpriseTo learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
2017 State of IT ReportIn today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.