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New project aims to Make All Voices Count

09.30.2013
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Social tools and philosophies are increasingly used by governments and non-profit organisations to increase communication and collaboration with stakeholders.  A new site is aiming to create a global platform for stakeholders from all manner of projects to come together.

Making All Voices Count is a global initiative that supports innovation, scaling-up, and research to deepen existing innovations and help harness new technologies to enable citizen engagement and government responsiveness.

“Democratic systems in the 21st century continue to be inhibited by 19th century timescales, with only occasional opportunities for citizens to express their views formally, such as during elections. In this century, many citizens have access to numerous tools that enable them to express their views – and measure government performance – in real time.

For example, online reporting platforms enable citizens to monitor the election process by reporting intimidation, vote buying, bias and misinformation; access to mobile technology allows citizens to update water suppliers on gaps in service delivery; crisis information can be crowdsourced via eyewitness reports of violence, as reported by email and sms.

The rise of mobile communication, the installation of broadband and the fast-growing availability of open data, offer tremendous opportunities for data journalism and new media channels. They can inspire governments to develop new ways to fight corruption and respond to citizens efficiently, effectively and fairly. In short, developments in technology and innovation mean that government and citizens can interact like never before.

Making All Voices Count is about seizing this moment to strengthen our commitments to promote transparency, fight corruption, empower citizens, and harness the power of new technologies to make government more effective and accountable.

The programme specifically aims to address the following barriers that weaken the link between governments and citizens:

  • Citizens lack incentives: Citizens may not have the necessary incentives to express their feedback on government performance – due to a sense of powerlessness, distrust in the government, fear of retribution, or lack of reliable information
  • Governments lack incentives: At the same time, governments need incentives to respond to citizen input whenever possible and to leverage citizen participation. The government’s response to citizens should be reinforced by proactive, public communication.  This initiative will help create incentives for government to respond.  Where government responds effectively, citizens’ confidence in government performance and approval ratings are likely to increase
  • Governments lack the ability to translate citizen feedback into action: This could be due to anything from political constraints to a lack of skills and systems. Governments need better tools to effectively analyze and translate citizen input into information that will lead to solutions and shape resource allocation. Once captured, citizens’ feedback (on their experiences with government performance) must be communicated so as to engage both the government and the broader public in finding a solution.
  • Citizens lack meaningful opportunities: Citizens need greater access to better tools and know-how to easily engage with government in a way that results in government action and citizen empowerment”

The site has opened its first call for proposals this week, with organisations, businesses, individuals, research institutes and governments invited to apply.

The site will award grants for the following three components:

  • Innovation: Backing innovative ideas and technology solutions
  • Scaling: Scaling successful initiatives and responses
  • Research and Evidence: Building an evidence base on what works and why

You can find out more about the challenge in the video below.


Making All Voices Count Grand Challenge for Development from Group SJR on Vimeo.


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