If some Eastern European governments are turning to technology to make their inner workings and public services more transparent a bit later than those “Westside,” then what a great opportunity to make these systems even more robust and pioneering.
Seizing that opportunity today is MySociety in collaboration with the Open Society Institute based in New York who have today launched a project to help people in Central and Eastern Europe who want to build and grow their own transparency and democracy sites.
The plan is to find people or organisations with ideas and then help them to make them into real bits of technology that will make a proper difference to people locally. MySociety is running a call for proposals (CfP) and eventually, the applicants will build projects themselves with some help from MySociety.
What is quite interesting is that the process is open to individuals or groups with no prior direct experience of working in government transparency and accountability. Tony Bowden, leading the project says: “Experience from around the world suggests that some of the best websites in this field have been set up by individuals with no specific NGO background, such as New Zealand’s TheyWorkForYou.co.nz.”
I will try to get an update from Tony about how this is going. If you are interested in e-government and e-democracy in Eastern Europe you might like to read an article I wrote for the Guardian about Estonia’s use of technology to improve public services here.