Posts Tagged ‘map’

Improving access to cleaner water

5 October 2009
You'll still need the buckets.

You'll still need the buckets.

Corruption in the access to basic service delivery, such as water, health and education is one of the key areas that need to be tackled to improve the lives of people and their livelihood. Especially access to water is possibly the service I feel most strongly about, as the corruption in this sector can be deadly. More than 1 billion people worldwide have no guaranteed access to water and more than 2 billion are without adequate sanitation.

Therefore, this initiative reported by the German service caught my eyes, that aims at improving the provision of access to water via mobile payment and smartcards in Kenya . The project suggests paying for clean water using a mobile payment service such as M-Pesa and retrieving the water at local access points through a smartcard which uses the low-cost technology of RFID chips (Radio Frequency Identification Tags) to identify the access request and the payment.

Combining these two easy-to-use technologies, the process of delivering water to the people is made more transparent, and through circumventing potentially corrupt bureaucracies, it can become a cleaner – and corrupt-free process.

Additionally, these technologies allow to access highly useful and relevant information of when, where and how much water is being retrieved. This data should be made open and accessible. As publicly available information it can then be mapped and serve to highlight risks, deficiencies or failures in the process of providing water services to the population.

Of course, some related questions arise, such as how strongly privatised can and should the access to the basic service water be. Also issues of privacy and personal information gathered through these systems need to be handled in a responsible and open manner.

But for questions of improving transparency and reducing corruption, technology reducing intermediaries and enabling the tracking information can be very powerful.

Forestry, a sector that is not less rife of corruption, is another example where the use of RFID and the technology behind it can be beneficiary.

Three-piece update on a busy week in the fight against corruption

20 February 2009

This week has been a pretty busy one for global anti-corruption activists. On Tuesday, Transparency International honoured two investigative journalists, David Leigh of the Guardian(UK) and Roman Shleynov of Novaya Gazeta (Russia). David and Roman are the recipients of the 2008 Integrity Awards. The winners of the Integrity Awards are extremely brave individuals who often accept great personal risk to expose corruption, as Georg sadly had to highlight a short while ago. This is what TI says:

Transparency International’s (TI) Integrity Awards honour the work of these courageous individuals and organisations that make a real difference in the fight against corruption. From accountants and public prosecutors to government officials and pharmacologists, their backgrounds may be diverse, but the message is the same: corruption can be beaten.

TI’s 2008 Integrity Awards pay tribute to two remarkable investigative journalists, David Leigh and Roman Shleynov, whose untiring determination to expose corrupt dealings in the face of formidable odds serve as inspiration to the anti-corruption movement.

Integrity Awards 2008
Huguette Labelle, Chair of TI with Integrity Awards 2008 winners David Leigh and Roman Shleynov (left to right)

A slideshow with photos from this year’s ceremony can be viewed here.


maps and facebook

22 December 2008

While we maybe shouldn’t be talking so much about web2.0 and social media, I wanted to share with you a couple of interesting posts that came up in a couple of fora I am visiting regularly.

I like maps. Here is one developed by ProPublica showing the expected or received money for financial institutions from the Treasury Department under the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program). The markers on the map show the institution and the amount it is receiving. The presentation and accessibility of information is key for proper accountability. In 2009, this map should link to the financial reports.

And here’s another interesting interactive one on the number of public corruption convictions in the USA. While one needs to be carefull in using the map as an indicator for the level of corruption in the different states, it is a good way of presenting information related to the fight against corruption, showing that corrupt behaviour actually is being punished.

In previous posts, we have been discussing the value of facebook for protests. The study “Facebook for Protest? The Value of Social Software for Political Activism in the Anti-FARC Rallies“, written by Christina Neumayer and Celina Raffl concludes that

Social software has the potential to enhance political activism from a local to a worldwide scale as exemplified in the anti-FARC-rallies, although the usage of social software applications still has to be considered as a privilege. In countries with huge social inequalities social software is still used and formed by an elite, additionally created within and emerged from a Western US-American context and its inherent cultural, social, economic and political structures.
Global resistance and grassroots activities have to emerge from a collective. Social software has the potential to be used for collective knowledge processes.

Food for thought. It is crucial to find opportunities to integrate national cultural contexts and ways of using social media into succesful campaigns, as well as build on existing communities that are driven by the people themselves. The “facebook-revolution” in Egypt gives a good idea for a nationally owned movement. In Morocco, for example, the use of video platforms such as and is extremely high, and probably presents a better opportunity for targeted actions.

And of course, we were not only writing but have also been working on a couple of projects that we’ll hopefully be able to present here soon.

world map of social networks

7 November 2008

Having had a look at the powerful example of the Egyptian revolution using facebook to organise themselves mentioned on the panel and in the previous blog post, I remembered this nice map that gives an idea of the most popular social networks around the world. It also shows very well that Africa still lacks behind in many ways regarding the usage of internet and the social web, as a large number of countries could not even be included.

Map of most popular social networks - October 2008

Map of most popular social networks - October 2008

IACC conference started today

31 October 2008

The 13th IACC conference started with a panel on corruption, peace and security. Let me reflect on a couple of issues mentioned during the session.

13th IACC

13th IACC

One of the panellists that got me thinking was Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International. She highlighted that a Transparency International list of countries with high levels of corruption would look very similar to an Amnesty International list of countries with high levels of human rights violations. Human Rights can be important tools fighting corruption, especially the right for freedom of expression and freedom of assembly and are an underutilized legal framework to fight corruption.

Already in this opening plenary it becomes clear that it there is an essential need for the right of citizens to be involved, the right of victims for a voice.

Khan said, and here I see a link to this blog: “The best tool to fight corruption is an empowered citizen.” As I had argued earlier, social media is about empowering people.

This “social transparency”, being accountable towards the citizens, demanding leaders, politicians, to account to what they do, can be supported by the use of social media.

Another issue raised was on stolen money that, as Mark Pieth, Chairman of the OECD working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions stated, must be hidden somewhere. More transparency, especially within global financial flows is urgently needed, as also Transparency International pointed out in its resolution of this year’s Annual Membership Meeting ahead of the 13th IACC.

It would be great to use crowdsourcing concepts to identify flows and assets of CEOs or politicians. To match the money with the people. As Pieth said, if dictators find it more difficult to hide their bounty in financial centre, this contributes to corruption. Maybe if they find their mansions and Maibachs posted on the web, people will become aware. A map on google un-hiding the villas by political leaders.

A question to the panelist asked them, what each one of them could do to fight corruption. So here are just some initial thoughts, if you have any ideas, I’d be interested in hearing and reading them here!

What can you do to fight corruption?

Corruption Perceptions Index 2008 going social?

23 September 2008

Today, Transparency International released its 2008 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI). In its visual appearance it is as all indices a simple table. Asking myself how the score relates to each country’s rather complex national reality, and therefore how the CPI, measuring only public sector corruption, could be complemented with additional information, I came up with a couple of ideas related to how the information is presented.

As a first step, improving the visualisation of the data can make it more accessible. So here’s the CPI as a world map. The Tactical Technology Collective has developed a nice guide on how to visualise information for advocacy. But better, make it an interactive google map. And the final step should be to use the crowd to enhance the information that is available in the map contributing real-time information – national news stories, bribing experiences and the like.

Secondly, you can explain the data with a press release. But you can also explain it with a youtube-video. Automatically the video relates to others on similar issues. Additionally viewers can comment on it, add their own videos, and engage into a conversation.

No research stands alone and needs to be seen in context with other data. The World Freedom Atlas, developed by Zachary Johnson at the University of Wisconsin, provides an interactive visualisation tool for world statistics on issues of freedom, democracy, human rights and good governance. Other examples of great presentation of information in world maps can be found developed by Maplecroft and, “as you’ve never seen it before”, on the Worldmapper website. In a future post I’ll share more interactive and social mapping projects.

But in the end, does a table, a statistic, or a number mean much to people? It works well for academics and rankings are great for the media. And it is of course a question of how to measure corruption in the first place (see the Users’ Guide to Measuring Corruption by Global Integrity, or the Mapping of Corruption and Governance Measurement Tools in Sub-Saharan Africa, by Transparency International), by the way to be discussed at the 13th IACC as well.

But on the other hand it has not much to do with what happens on the streets, in hospitals or in public institutions. An index meaningful to people needs to be connected to their lives and realities. More tools that combine facts and personal experience, as well as engage people in a conversation need to be developed. This will allow us to gain a more comprehensive picture of what is it exactly we are dealing with when we want to fight corruption.