‘Turning conflicts into co-creation’: Taiwan government harnesses digital policy for democracy

Article by  Si Ying Thian: “Assistive intelligence and language models can help facilitate nuanced conversations because the human brain simply cannot process 1,000 different positions, said Audrey Tang, Taiwan’s Digital Minister in charge of the Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA).  

Tang was speaking at a webinar about policymaking in the digital age, hosted by LSE IDEAS, the think tank of the London School of Economics, on 1 December 2023.  

She cited Talk to the City, a large language model that transforms transcripts from a variety of datasets into clusters of similar opinions, as an example of a technology that has helped increase collaboration and diversity without losing the ability to scale…

“The idea is to establish value-based, long-term collaborations based on the idea of public code. This is evident in many of our government websites, which very much look like the UK’s,” said Tang. 

Public code is defined by Foundation of Public Code as an open-source software developed by public organisations, together with policy and guidance needed for collaboration and reuse…

The government’s commitment to open source is also evident in its rollout of the Taiwan Employment Gold Card, which integrates a flexible work permit, a residence visa for up to three years, and eligibility for national health insurance and income tax reduction.  

According to Tang, the Taiwan government invites anyone with experience of eight years or more in contributing to open source or a Web3 publicly available ledger to enrol in the residency program…(More)”.

Scaling deep through transformative learning in public sector innovation labs – experiences from Vancouver and Auckland

Article by Lindsay Cole & Penny Hagen: “…explores scaling deep through transformative learning in Public Sector Innovation Labs (PSI labs) as a pathway to increase the impacts of their work. Using literature review and participatory action research with two PSI labs in Vancouver and Auckland, we provide descriptions of how they enact transformative learning and scaling deep. A shared ambition for transformative innovation towards social and ecological wellbeing sparked independent moves towards scaling deep and transformative learning which, when compared, offer fruitful insights to researchers and practitioners. The article includes a PSI lab typology and six moves to practice transformative learning and scaling deep…(More)”.

What can harnessing ‘positive deviance’ methods do for food security?

Article by Katrina J. Lane: “What the researchers identified in Niger, in this case, is known as “positive deviance”. It’s a concept that originated in 1991 during a nutrition program in Vietnam run by Save the Children. Instead of focusing on the population level, project managers studied outliers in the system — children who were healthier than their peers despite sharing similar circumstances, and then looked at what the parents of these children did differently.

Once the beneficial practices were identified — in this case, that included collecting wild foods, such as crab, shrimp, and sweet potato tops for their children — they encouraged mothers to tell other parents. Through this outlier-centric approach, the project was able to reduce malnourishment by 74%.

“The positive deviance approach assumes that in every community there are individuals or groups that develop uncommon behaviors or practices which help them cope better with the challenges they face than their peers,” said Boy.

It’s important to be respectful and acknowledge success stories already present in systems, added Duncan Green, a strategic adviser for Oxfam and a professor in practice in international development at the London School of Economics.

Positive deviance emphasizes the benefit of identifying and amplifying these “deviant behaviors”, as they hold the potential to generate scalable solutions that can benefit the entire community.

It can be broken down into three steps: First, identifying high-performing individuals or groups within a challenging context. Next, an investigative process in the community via in-person interviews, group discussions, and questionnaires to find what their behaviors and practices are. Finally, it means encouraging solutions to be spread throughout the community.

In the final stage, the approach relies on community-generated solutions — which Green explains are more likely to propagate and be engaged with…(More)”.

Unlocking the value of supply chain data across industries

MIT Technology Review Insights: “The product shortages and supply-chain delays of the global covid-19 pandemic are still fresh memories. Consumers and industry are concerned that the next geopolitical climate event may have a similar impact. Against a backdrop of evolving regulations, these conditions mean manufacturers want to be prepared against short supplies, concerned customers, and weakened margins.

For supply chain professionals, achieving a “phygital” information flow—the blending of physical and digital data—is key to unlocking resilience and efficiency. As physical objects travel through supply chains, they generate a rich flow of data about the item and its journey—from its raw materials, its manufacturing conditions, even its expiration date—bringing new visibility and pinpointing bottlenecks.

This phygital information flow offers significant advantages, enhancing the ability to create rich customer experiences to satisfying environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) goals. In a 2022 EY global survey of executives, 70% of respondents agreed that a sustainable supply chain will increase their company’s revenue.

For disparate parties to exchange product information effectively, they require a common framework and universally understood language. Among supply chain players, data standards create a shared foundation. Standards help uniquely identify, accurately capture, and automatically share critical information about products, locations, and assets across trading communities…(More)”.

“How Democracy Should Work” Lesson in Learning, Building Cohesion and Community

Case study by Marjan Horst Ehsassi: “Something special happened in a small community just north of San Francisco during the summer of 2022. The city of Petaluma decided to do democracy a bit differently. To figure out what to do about a seemingly-intractable local issue, the city of 60,000 decided policymakers and “experts” shouldn’t be the only ones at the decision-making table—residents of Petaluma also ought to have a voice. They would do this by instituting a Citizens’ Assembly—the first of its kind in California.

Citizens’ Assemblies and sortition are not new ideas; in fact, they’ve helped citizens engage in decision-making since Ancient Greece. Yet only recently did they resurge as a possible antidote to a representative democracy that no longer reflects citizens’ preferences and pervasive citizen disengagement from political institutions. Also referred to as lottery-selected panels or citizens’ panels, this deliberative platform has gained popularity in Western Europe but is only just beginning to make inroads in the United States. The Petaluma City Council’s decision to invite Healthy Democracy (healthydemocracy.org), a leading U.S. organization dedicated to designing and implementing deliberative democracy programs, to convene a citizens’ assembly on the future of a large plot of public land, demonstrates unique political vision and will. This decision contributes to a roadmap for innovative ways to engage with citizens.

This case study examines this novel moment of democratic experimentation in California, which became known as the Petaluma Fairgrounds Advisory Panel (PFAP). It begins with a description of the context, a summary of the PFAP’s design, composition, and process, and a discussion of the role of the government-lead or sponsor, the Petaluma City Council. An analysis of the impact of participation on the Panelist using a methodology developed by the author in several other case studies follows. Finally, the last section provides several recommendations to enhance the impact of such processes as well as thoughts on the future of deliberative platforms…(More)”.

Understanding the relationship between informal public transport and economic vulnerability in Dar es Salaam

WhereIsMyTransport Case Study: “In most African cities, formal public transport—such as government-run or funded bus and rail networks—has limited coverage and fails to meet overall mobility demand. As African cities grow and densify, planners are questioning whether these networks can serve the economically vulnerable communities who benefit most from public transport access to opportunities and services.

In the absence of formal public transport or private vehicles, low-income commuters have long relied on informal public transport—think tro tros in Accra, boda bodas in Kampala, danfos in Lagos—to meet their mobility needs. Yet there is little reliable data on the relationship between informal public transport and economic vulnerability in and around Africa’s cities, making it challenging to understand:

  • Which communities are the most vulnerable?
  • What opportunities and services do people typically attempt to access?
  • What routes do informal public transport operators follow?
  • What are the occupation and gender-related impacts?

Addressing these questions benefits from combining data assets. For example, pairing data on informal public transport coverage with data on the socioeconomic characteristics of the communities that rely on this type of transport…(More)”.

To harness telecom data for good, there are six challenges to overcome

Blog by Anat Lewin and Sveta Milusheva: “The global use of mobile phones generates a vast amount of data. What good can be done with these data? During the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw that aggregated data from mobile phones can tell us where groups of humans are going, how many of them are there, and how they are behaving as a cluster. When used effectively and responsibly, mobile phone data can be immensely helpful for development work and emergency response — particularly in resource-constrained countries.  For example, an African country that had, in recent years, experienced a cholera outbreak was ahead of the game. Since the legal and practical agreements were already in place to safely share aggregated mobile data, accessing newer information to support epidemiological modeling for COVID-19 was a straightforward exercise. The resulting datasets were used to produce insightful analyses that could better inform health, lockdown, and preventive policy measures in the country.

To better understand such challenges and opportunities, we led an effort to access and use anonymized, aggregated mobile phone data across 41 countries. During this process, we identified several recurring roadblocks and replicable successes, which we summarized in a paper along with our lessons learned. …(More)”.

Contextualizing Datafication in Peru: Insights from a Citizen Data Literacy Project

Paper by Katherine Reilly and Marieliv Flores: The pilot data literacy project Son Mis Datos showed volunteers how to leverage Peru’s national data protection law to request access to personal data held by Peruvian companies, and then it showed them how to audit corporate data use based on the results. While this intervention had a positive impact on data literacy, by basing it on a universalist conception of datafication, our work inadvertently reproduced the dominant data paradigm we hoped to challenge. This paper offers a retrospective analysis of Son Mis Datos, and explores the gap between van Dijck’s widely cited theory of datafication, and the reality of our participants’ experiences with datafication and digital transformation on the ground in Peru. On this basis, we suggest an alternative definition of datafication more appropriate to critical scholarship as the transformation of social relations around the uptake of personal data in the coordination of transactions, and propose an alternative approach to data literacy interventions that begins with the experiences of data subjects…(More)”.

Farmer-Centric Data Governance: Towards A New Paradigm

Report, six Deep Dives, and nine Case Studies by The Development Gateway: “..provide user-centric approaches to data governance that places farmers and their communities at the center of data gathering initiatives and aims to reduce the negative effects of centralized power. The findings are based on literature, interviews, and workshops, to gather the experiences of change-makers and aims to:
• Raise awareness around the current political economy of agricultural data and its implications;
• Identify user-centric data governance models and mechanisms, particularly in LMICs;
• Demonstrate the purpose, value, benefits, and challenges of these models for all stakeholders; and
• Identify appropriate and relevant actionable principles, recommendations, and considerations related to user-centric data governance in the agriculture sector for the donor community…(More)”

The Underestimated Impact of School Participatory Budgeting

Blog by the Participation Factory: “Participatory budgets (PBs) are in use in countless communities around the world, giving residents the chance to decide how to allocate parts of the public budget. They are usually open for the entire community to take part – but there can be real advantages to starting with a smaller-scale school participatory budget.

Not only do they empower pupils to get involved in local government; but they can also play a crucial role in the students’ civic education. Unlike other educational tools like mock elections, the children actually get to see how the work they put in leads to concrete results. They demonstrate the power of political engagement to children at an early age, leaving them well-placed to become active, engaged citizens in later life….

The basic setup of a school PB should allow children to get a grasp of a whole range of what we call participatory skills – including project development, public speaking, voting, running a campaign, and engaging in deliberative democratic discussions. Younger children can start out just voting for their favourite projects – but as they get older, they can begin to get more involved in the entire process, gradually building their confidence, project management skills, and their understanding of how participation works. 

Participatory budgeting improves the children’s participatory skills. We have learned from our experience in Czech and Slovak schools that every year, more children feel comfortable enough to propose a project and run a campaign. They realise that there are techniques and methods to the process that they can easily learn and use, making the whole process less intimidating. They realise that debating and taking initiative doesn’t hurt, but rather leads to real results…(More)”.