Campaign: Bangladeshis microblog the elections to ensure transparency
On 29 December 2008, Bangladesh held its 9th Parliamentary elections, but this time there was a new twist.
Global Voices reported that Software company Somewhere In would offer to the citizens of Bangladesh a set of internet and mobile tools that allowed for quick and easy dissemination of election news. Their motives were simple: offer a public forum where people can get real-time information and, more importantly, hold the government accountable. In part of its open statement to the government, Somewhere In states:
“tomorrow, any update from any blogger has the potential to reach the whole world.
this time, for the first time in your political history, bloggers are watching you.”
On election day, people were urged to use either the internet or SMS message to report events of the day to the New Age website, which also provided direct synching with an interactive map. The following tools were offered:
“bloggers share quick news to the election microblog
– just login and type from web or sms to 5455: ! your message
bloggers can sms directly to an interactive map
– send sms to 5455: ! your message @location regarding their district
bloggers can analyse and share political stories on the election blog
bloggers can share the latest microblogs through nearly any blog“
The results, continually updated, are displayed on the sites homepage, along with numerous blog posts with various information.
Importance: This joint business/citizen initiative is a big move towards increased transparency of a country that has, in recent years, topped the list of highest corruption rates in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (It was ranked most corrupt in 2005 and has slowly moved to number 147 in 2008) and has been under interim government (and military) rule for two years.
The full impact of the initiative is yet to be seen, however, its collaborative and public nature is sure to raise a few heads within the country and around the world. We at DigiActive hope to see its effectiveness carried through and perhaps duplicated elsewhere.