CIPE Launches New Technology for Democracy Online Course

10.28.2021 | Leila Zarifi, Panoply Digital

CIPE recently launched the newly enhanced Technology for Democracy Online Course to empower business associations and partner organizations to leverage civic technology tools more efficiently and effectively.

The tailored curriculum is designed to improve the knowledge and use of digital tools and strategies among business membership organizations.

Writing for Forbes, the Omidyar Network defines civic technology (civic tech) as “technologies that are deployed to enhance the relationship between people and government, by giving people more of a voice to participate in public decision making and/or to improve the delivery of services (usually by government) to people,” (Donohue, 2017, para. 1) Civic tech is growing in importance because information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become more widely accessible in most countries.

Meeting a Need

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic also demonstrated that the need for civic tech has never been greater. As national travel restrictions came into force, people were compelled to rely on digital channels to communicate not only with each other, but also with their governments. Conducting business, accessing citizen services such as vital records and voting, and connecting with key stakeholders in one’s community underwent an overnight transformation.

The local business community, particularly across emerging markets, can harness the power of civic technology tools to advance democratic and market-oriented reforms, improve communications, and enhance services. As one example, CIPE partner On Watch is one of the leading organizations analyzing data to help boost transparency and accountability in Turkey. Its online fact-checking platform shares government data through understandable graphics to promote capacity building and good governance. In a different case, CIPE partner Konspiratori is a coalition based in Slovakia that helps companies divert advertisement revenue from disinformation sites. Its online database filters fraudulent or misleading websites to prevent companies from supporting damaging content.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that the need for civic tech has never been greater.

Despite the positive application of technology tools, utilizing certain online tools can become challenging, particularly in closing civic spaces. For example, some governments and non-state actors across the globe are increasingly infringing on online privacy rights and using surveillance as a tool to steal individual and organizational data. Furthermore, in a rapidly changing legal environment, local business communities sometimes lack training or knowledge on how to be compliant with new data protection and privacy regulations when utilizing technology tools and platforms.

Notwithstanding these challenges, as technology and the internet become even more affordable and accessible, there is a greater need for organizations to adapt and implement new civic tech tools into their work and understand how to navigate digital security risks and legislation of the online space. Designed with business membership organizations in mind, the Technology for Democracy Online Course seeks to support local business communities in utilizing civic tech tools and resources to amplify their work, while staying secure online. The course features the following learning modules:

  • Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning (MEL) – This module examines the value of MEL, the different components of MEL, and best practices on how to monitor and evaluate projects. This module is separated into two sections, Part A and Part B.
  • Polling and Surveying – This module helps learners construct and implement polls and surveys online and understand how to retrieve the data collected.
  • Digital Security – This module provides practical tips on how to help keep an organization’s data secure and mitigate risks to digital security.
  • Communication and Social Media – This module primarily highlights how to use social media, as well as other applications and tools effectively when communicating externally with a target audience. In addition, the best practices and tools throughout this module can also be used to improve communication within your organization. To begin the module, please click play on the video below.
  • Data Privacy – This module demonstrates the value of data for advancing a business organization’s mission and objectives. It also conveys best practices for collecting, storing, reusing, and disposing data, as well as how to keep sensitive data secure throughout the data lifecycle.

Civic tech will only continue to grow in importance in the coming years. It’s important to stay up to date about the issues that may affect you or the organizations you work with, and the suite of modules on the Technology for Democracy Online Course can support you on this journey. Please visit the course today and learn how civic tech can help advance democratic and economic reforms in your country.

To access the course, please visit this link.