Internet access and powerful communication technologies are spreading around the world at a extraordinary rate, transforming the way citizens live and interact with each other. Social media drives a conversation of ideas around the world. Smartphone cameras produce on-the-scene reporting of events and put them up for international analysis. Massive amounts of data are collected and made accessible in compelling visualizations. With the many benefits that citizens experience from these advanced technologies, there is also the expectation that leaders in government, civil society and politics will keep up.
Unfortunately, many political institutions and citizen groups in the developing world are falling further behind, locked away from the powerful web tools that are powering data-driven political organizing, mass communications for civic advocacy and e-government service delivery. Even when effective communication or organizing tools are available, staff in civic or governmental groups often lack the technical expertise necessary to manage such new systems, preventing them from doing their job as effectively as possible. Without the ability to respond in kind to technically-empowered citizens, frustrations with leaders and disenchantment with political institutions increases.
The Democracy Toolkit (DemTools) is designed to help empower civil society organizations, political parties and legislatures around the world by applying technology solutions to common challenges:
- involving citizens in government decision-making;
- helping civil society groups organize in a digital world;
- better connecting elected officials with constituents;
- managing election data; and
- fostering civic dialogue through social media.