Weekly Update: 2 March

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Early in the week I met with the Director of BCPR’s Conflict Prevention Group, a champion in the use of ICTs and mobiles in crisis situations and governance processes who uses his experience in Kenya to promote this work in UNDP. BCPR clearly understands that crowdsourcing is not sufficient to adequately manage crisis situations and/or governance processes. Two issues here: one is the well known issue of verification of reports, as we noted in our case study we did for the Mexican elections in 2009 (http://www.undpegov.org/undpwiki/Cuidemos_el_Voto). Here, it is important to separate verification from identification of the course. What needs to be verified is the event being reported and not the source as anonymity is is most cases vital for crowdsourcing (as we also noted on the study). The second issue is the apparent lack of real-time feedback between the source and the entities putting all the information together. Although this is not always needed it seems to be critical in some conflict situations where people might be facing mortal risks.

Based on this, BCPR is now thinking about developing a Global Programme that addressed these issues. Although no concept note has been developed (other than the one on crowdsourcing I shared before), the idea is to set dedicated emergency lines using customized  mobiles phones which will be distributed to key organizations/communities and establishing “data” centers within government to capture data, do analysis and provide rapid response. There are several layers here (telcom, hardware, software, data gathering, data mining, response teams, etc.) that need to be carefully considered. Also, national contexts should be considered as they are quote diver and thus no one size fits all approach will work.

I managed to contact our ISP partners at the Ministry of Planning in Brasilia who are also involved in the implementation of OGP in the country. The MoP team has been working on the open data and transparency components of  Brazil’s OGP action plan ( http://www.opengovpartnership.org/countries/brazil). Although the open data mandate has been agreed at the highest levels of government, implementation has faced resistance in certain quarters of the public sector. One argument that I found fascinating was the one put forth by one institution that argued that opening data too wide will have a negative impact of economic growth as it will take more time to agree on policies due to lengthy consultations processes within the public sector and with the public in general. Anyways, we agreed with MoP to explore ways in which we can create a partnership to support OGP design and  implementation in developing countries. We will try to complete this before the upcoming OGP meeting in Brazil. I have already contacted the CO.

After some last minute rapid action, we now seem to be on top of the post-2015 global thematic consultation on Governance. DGG director met with OHCHR representatives at the recent Experts Group Meeting that took place in New York this week. They have agreed to keep governance as the overall chapeau for the global session and on that basis decide what areas of governance should be covered during the meeting. There are also some financial implications for DGG as OHCHR its putting its own and we need to match, as a minimum.

Met with UNCTAD and ITU colleagues for lunch to discuss the possibility of UNDP joining the UN Partnership for measuring ICT for Development (see http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/partnership. Most of the partners involved here directly produce data (we don’t) so UNDP’s role could be one of capacity development, as UNCTAD put it. Both ITU and UNCTAD also suggested be could fund such efforts by providing support to National Statistical Offices (NSOs). We of course so not do that but I did mention work we have done in some countries to support the introduction of ICTD indicators in household surveys and/or market studies undertaken by private IT companies. Other than that, I was unable to see any other relevant way of connecting with the Partnership. Anyways, I think it is worth to keep an eye on this and check the indicators carefully (and link of course to OGC’s work on governance indicators). One interesting document we might want to conside.r is the draft on e-government indicators (http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/partnership/material/Framework_for_a_set_of_E-Government_Core_Indicators_Final_rev1.pdf).

Cheers, Raúl

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