03 Sep 2012 to 03 Sep 2012
The next generation of digital earth will involve multiple connected infrastructures based on open access and participation across multiple technological platforms that will address the needs of different audiences. The evolutionary dynamics of such platforms depend on whether they are deployed in the sphere of commerce (e.g. Google Earth), social interaction (e.g. Google Latitude), collaborative production of geospatial knowledge (e.g. OpenStreetMap), science (e.g. Eye on Earth) or politics (e.g. Ushahidi). This paper focuses on socio-technical platforms in the sphere of politics, often referred to as transparency and accountability (T&A) interventions, or liberation technologies.
The main question in this paper is: How can T&A interventions become a mainstream policy tool in developing contexts? In T&A interventions, citizens and NGOs report failures in the delivery of local government services—e.g., water, health, education—via text messages on standard mobile phones. The public disclosure of these reports on the geospatial web and other mass media may pressure local authorities to take remedial action. The voice of ordinary citizens may be amplified, and citizens’ capacity to directly influence public service delivery and hold local government accountable may be improved. The paper draws from a pilot project in Zanzibar, funded by Google.org and UN Habitat as well as on an ongoing collaborative research program, between the University Twente and the University of Dar es Salaam funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) - Science for Global Development (WOTRO) to advance Digital Earth in Africa. See https://sites.google.com/site/sematanzania/.