As 2017 draws to a close, we've been catching up on notes from several great events over the last few months! Here's our combined roundup of 3 takeaways from our top events this October, November, and December.
Enjoy these insights and ideas, happy holidays to all our blog readers, and see you in 2018!
October ICYMI Roundup
1. StoryMaps are is powerful, open source tool from Esri that allows you to combine maps with other types of information and multimedia (text, photos, video, etc.) to tell compelling interactive stories online, all without needing to code or any technical expertise.
2. Storymaps can serve as a great presentation tool (more interactive and stimulating that a slide deck) including for flagship research projects and reports, and if you choose to create one you retain ownership of the source data (Esri just hosts it).
3. Esri also has an existing catalog of hundreds of layers of base geographic data drawn from public sources that you can layer and build upon, including geographic data about global poverty rates, health/disease incidence, climate/weather patterns, and much more. For example, if you produce a global governance scorecard, you can map/layer this to easily compare how governance indicators compare to the geographic spread of the Human Development Index of Gini Coefficient as a measure of inequality.
1. In late October we hosted an intro session for a new workshop series for members around "Data, Methods and Complexity" entitled Uncovering Your Own Data for Organizational and Network Learning and Impact, with consultant Dr. Jerri Husch. The end goal of this process will be to help organizations better solve social problems through more visible, rigorous and reliable data that captures far more that traditional quantitative and qualitative indicators.
2. The facilitator walked participants through an interactive exercise of identifying the relevant actors to their topic of work, the relevant actions they take, the dynamic relationships between actors, and the geographic and cultural context in which they operate. She noted how traditional approaches to understanding networks may only focus on the actors, and importantly miss out on the actions and dynamic interactions between actors. Even more, the power of this approach lies in its comprehensiveness and ability to identify new patterns by analyzing cand categorizing (sometimes unstructured) data. For example, taking this holistic approach allowed 2 international humanitarian organizations to realize they were duplicating resources, providing one community with the exact same services only 2 kilometers away.
3. Future sessions will focus on helping participants identify the multifaceted layers of interrelated data that is relevant to their work, and allow participants across organizations to develop a shared language to identify commonalities and trends. This will enable us to, as a network, community and field, to move toward more truly integrated data and tap the rich gold mine of information across the Open Gov Hub community for new insights on social and collective impact.
November ICYMI Roundup
1. On November 3 we were pleased to host András Kádár, head of the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, a leading non-governmental watchdog organization that protects human dignity and the rule of law through legal and public advocacy methods, for an event entitled, "From the Frontlines of Hungary: Lessons and Warning on Closing Civic Space." He began his remarks by quoting political scientist Steve Levitsky who noted that authoritarianism in the 21st century is sophisticated: "Rather than through military coups and violence, democracies now die at the hands of elected leaders."
2. Much of the targeted smear campaigns and crackdowns that Hungarian human rights and other civil society groups have been facing is justified by the current government by claiming these efforts are to increase transparency, especially around foreign funds received by NGOs.
3. When asked by an audience member how outside international organizations and actors might help organizations under attack like his, Andras responded by suggesting: 1) flexible funding that hires some people to fight the fires and smear campaigns directly, so others can continue to do their actual work; 2) learning about how others in similar situations have come out of them with good mental health and well-being; 3) support the data and digital security of CSOs facing government crackdowns.
For takeaways see the full event write up blog here.
December ICYMI Roundup
Distract, Divide, Detach: Using Transparency & Accountability to Justify Regulations of CSOs
1. In early December, Hub member the Transparency and Accountability Initiative launched its latest report: Distract, Divide, Detach: Using Transparency & Accountability to Justify Regulations of CSOs."
2. The report looks at crackdowns on civil society groups and civic space across several countries to identify 3 trends: civil society groups tend to be accused of being “foreign, self-appointed, and privileged” as three different arguments to delegitimize them and make them unpopular with the general public.
3. The report and subsequent discussion return to a central challenge: striking the right balance between having CSOs be transparent and disclose information about their work and activities to build trust and legitimacy, versus ensuring their security and protection when they come under threat.
1. On December 14th we were pleased to officially launch our new Defending Democracy program with a special event, "Sharing Lessons from Investigative Journalism and Anti-Corruption Advocacy Partnerships Around the World." Numerous panelists spoke to the power of journalist/advocate collaborations to combat corruption, particularly corruption that flows across borders. Some key traits behind these collaborations (including behind the global collaborative that produced the Panama and Paradise Papers, as reported by Marina of ICIJ) were having trust across the group, emphasizing teamwork, and leveraging technology to parse through enormous amounts of data to uncover transnational corruption trends.
2. Transparency International-Russia had a successful collaboration with the Miami Herald to expose the purchase of real estate in Miami by corrupt Russian leaders. The partnership was effective because each organization has its own distinct audience and as such there was no competition. And the publishing of stories on this topic ("bad press") led to the dismissal of a high-level Russian government official, achieving an advocacy goal.
3. With just a $10 million organizational budget in recent years, OCCRP's investigative reporting has helped lead to the recuperation of nearly $4 billion stolen assets from criminals around the world.