For the past few years, Sunlight has been hosting people from all over the world for informal workshops and meetings in conjunction with TransparencyCamp to discuss challenges and share best practices on issues facing the global transparency movement. This year, we are pleased to have the opportunity to host twenty opengov advocates from every major continent to discuss the intersections of technology and political power, share challenges on the national level and continue to build a global community around government transparency.
After sorting through applications from over 300 advocates, technologists, journalists and policy makers, we could not be more excited to see how the experiences of these international campers will help shape the conversation. And now, with TransparencyCamp 2014 just a few weeks away, we’d love to introduce you to just a few (of these many AMAZING) opengov advocates.
Rosario Pavese, Government Policy Coordinator and Political Scientist, Argentina
Poder Ciudadano is Argentina’s chapter of Transparency International and one of the first NGOs to address good governance, transparency and access to information through technology. As the Government Policy Coordinator, Rosario promotes greater access to public information and transparency in the administration. She has coordinated diverse programs aiming greater openness of Congress, the executive branch, and local governments. Poder Cuidadano has built and maintains several projects centered around increasing public access to information and citizen participation, including a political finance database and a database with information on political advertisements.
In her work, Rosario often faces the challenge of recruiting creative software developers that can help bridge the gap between tech and transparency projects — a challenge she hopes to begin to address by sharing experiences and learning about new approaches to engage citizens through technology at this year’s TCamp. To find out more about Rosario’s work, check out the joint Sunlight-TI webinar on political finance transparency.
Mathias Huter, Open Data Analyst, Georgia/Austria
After spending the last four years working with the Georgia chapter of Transparency International in Tbilisi, Mathias recently moved to Austria to start the country’s first NGO dedicated to political accountability, good governance and fighting corruption. Using open data, he plans to tell stories that will draw attention to problems in government in hopes of generating momentum for reform. Mathias oversaw the creation of FixMyStreet.ge, a project that has received more than 2,500 reports of problems from the streets of Tbilisi in three years. He has also opened public procurement data through Tendermonitor.ge, a website that scrapes government contracts. You can find out more about Mathias’ work in this joint Sunlight-TI webinar or in his feature on Sunlight’s blog).
In his attempts to increase transparency at a national level, the universality of technical challenges of combating corruption have become clear to Mathias. He hopes to exchange knowledge with fellow open government activists at TCamp about addressing these issues and develop collaborations to link datasets across borders. According to Mathias, “Corruption is in most cases a transnational business, and so should be the anti-corruption and transparency movement – working across organizations, countries and disciplines (coders, data activists, reporters, policy experts) to trace assets, beneficial company ownership and corrupt money flows.”
Emmanuel Okyere, Project Lead at Odekro, Ghana
After falling into the transparency field, almost by accident, Emmanuel is now a project lead at Odekro, a parliamentary monitoring organization in Ghana. As a developer, Emmanuel has always been an advocate for open source software. However, it was through his work as an IT consultant that Emmanuel realized how messy the public procurement process was and how the lack of data and applications around it allowed corruption to perpetuate. Emmanuel is committed to a long-term approach of better engaging citizens with MPs online. Odekro was the first PMO in Ghana to make parliamentary sessions and decisions available online and they hope that this platform is just the beginning. Ultimately, Emmanuel hopes that Odekro will support a platform with a wealth of information on parliamentary debates and give citizens the ability to respond to MPs online.
At this year’s TCamp, Emmanuel is interested in discussing how lobbying transparency and public procurement data can generate value for citizens. He also hopes to learn more about the “unconference” format in order to hold a TransparencyCamp of this model in Ghana.
Mor Rubinstein, Data Analyst, Israel/United Kingdom
Currently a MSc. candidate at the Oxford Internet Institute, Mor is an Israeli citizen who has also spent several years working at the Public Knowledge Workshop, an open data NGO in Israel. As a community coordinator, she worked on the Open Budget project, which united all Israel’s budget information for the first time into a central API database and continues to work closely on data analysis for Open Knesset (a project with a model similar to OpenCongress). At Oxford, she is researching the global network of open data and civic hacker groups and is active with Open Knowledge, volunteering as part of the Open Government Working Group.
Mor recognizes the challenges of opening data and advancing the open government movement in countries with less technical capacity and hopes to use TransparencyCamp as an opportunity to share ideas on how to create a sustainable network of civic coders for the future.
Ivan Ninenko, Deputy Director of TI-Russia, Russia
Ivan is Deputy Director of Transparency International – Russia and is currently a visiting scholar at The Havighurst Centerin Miami University, Ohio. As hostility toward NGOs from the Russian government continues to increase and the free media has all but diminished, Ivan has firsthand experience with the challenges of opening government to Russian citizens. He has been an anchor on a weekly TV show about corruption on TV Rain — the only Russian independent TV station, which recently was cut off from all cable networks. With Transparency International, one of Ivan’s main projects is declarator.org — an online database of Russian public officials’ income and assets, in which data is being gathered through the Russian web and crowdsourced by volunteers. Soon declarator.org will be releasing an API so that anyone can use the data for their own ends.