Can Computer Geeks and Community Activists Unite?

To most, computer geeks and democratic activists may seem like an unlikely pair but the National Democratic Institute (NDITech) has turned this odd couple into a dream team.  When you think of a computer geek it reminds most people of a timid individual that handles all of the background technical needs of an organization while democratic activists are the end users, they rely on tech tools to help implement the mission of the organization. NDITech has successfully teamed technology and democratic activists by incorporating the complex technique of computer design into user friendly and accessible advocacy tool that is easily accessible to practitioners in the humanitarian and development sector.

The Democracy Toolkit (DemTools) is a new and exciting tool to help modernize the local knowledge of communities and to provide the communities with a platform that will empower the voice of the local community, particularly women.  DemTools have already helped dozens of organizations including powering six election observations, four data visualization systems and twenty-one civic groups.  DemTools use a variety of technical outputs such as SMS messaging, emailing, and presentational platforms in order to appeal to the widest audience possible, each tool serves to compliment and support to the next, creating a wide-ranging digital resource.  With the launch of DemTools 2.0 they are slatted to do even more through webapps that allow for better documentation, usability and administrative functionality.

DemTools web apps have been developed to address the following issues:

  • ”     Civi- Civil society organizations, elected officials and political parties are most effective when they can communicate with, understand and respond to the needs of their supporters, constituents and voters. Unfortunately, many of these organizations lack the strategic communications and digital tools for effective outreach and mobilization.
  •      DKAN- Raw data, even when publicly shared, is not easily understood, and needs to be turned into data-driven stories to be useful to the public in holding institutions to account or assisting policymakers. The DKAN DemTool, developed by NuCivic, helps tackle these problems. Government organizations, journalists, policymakers or civic groups can create searchable, indexed public repositories of information compatible with open data standards. Data analysts and visual storytellers can then tap that information to create charts, graphs, maps and web pages to wrap raw numbers in powerful visualizations that illuminate meaning and have impact.
  •      Elections- As a data management platform, the Elections DemTool aggregates, manages and analyzes structured data collected through text messaging, smartphone app or phone calls from trained observers across a country. With built-in data analysis, election experts can quickly spot trends and flag potential problems while maintaining direct communication with their network of observers in the field.
  •      FixMyCommunity- FixMyCommunity then tracks the issue’s location and category and sends a report to the department or body responsible for fixing it. The tool doesn’t just send problem reports—FixMyCommunity also makes the reports visible to everyone. Anyone can see past reports, leave updates, or subscribe to alerts.
  • Issues- With the Issues DemTool, citizens have an opportunity to send their questions directly to the people who aspire to lead them. They can also expect to receive direct answers in the form of short video responses designed to be easily shared through the web or social media.
  •      Petitions- Petitions provides an easy-to-use channel for citizen ideas and government responses. Individuals can submit their ideas for critical issues that need to be addressed; their fellow citizens can formally sign the petition to endorse the issues which they support. Once the number of signers crosses a predetermined threshold, the government or managing organization is obligated to either adopt the proposal or provide a substantive response as to why not.”(DemTools)

Digital Inclusioed and utilized by the wider humanitarian and development communities, they have the potential to increase the impact and engagement of communities in becoming more active agents of change.

Kindly find below the links to other similar programs:

Imate Rijec-

Transition Monitoring Group-

Spatial Collective-