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The Challenge

As election observation has evolved into a normative practice, familiar technology– mobile phones, databases, etc. – has been adapted and applied to facilitate the collection, management, and analysis of observation data.  As new technologies emerge there exists ongoing opportunities for observation groups to use new tools simplify data collection, improve the verification of findings, and more rapidly visualize and analyze data.Most observation groups are keen to apply new technologies, but lack the time or capacity to keep up with the latest technologies.

Technology experts canplay a key role in strengthening observation efforts through the development or adaptation of new tools.  While many technologists may be willing and able to play such a role, few understand election observation or how to support observation efforts.  There is a need to bridge the gap between observation groupsand technologists who may be interested in supporting their efforts.  Collaboration between observation groups and technologists could be of mutual benefit while serving a greater common good of strengthening the electoral process.

The Opportunity

On March 4, 2013, Democracy International (DI)will be sponsoring the first event of the FW {Forward}: Network: FW: Tunisia ElecTech Un/Conference.With elections due to take place in Lebanon and Tunisia in 2013, the event would bring together election observation groups and technologists from both countries to:

  • Learn from international and regional experts aboutdifferent observation approaches and new tools that could be adapted and applied by Lebanese and Tunisian election observation groups during the upcoming elections; and
  • Identify possible areas for collaboration on innovative pilot projects during the upcoming elections that apply new approaches or technology tools.

At the FW: Tunisia ElecTech Un/Conference, DI will issue a call for proposals fromparticipants who wish to partner on a project for the 2013 elections.  Proposals that would be eligible for consideration would need to include a specific plan to:

  • Develop, adapt, and/or apply a new or existing technological tool to address a problem faced by an election observation group

OR

  • Develop, adapt, and/or apply a new or innovative approach using technology to promote greater electoral oversight and accountability

Participants will be requested to submit proposals within two weeks of the eventand awards of up to15,000 USD each may be issued for winning proposals.

The Event

The FW: Tunisia ElecTech Un/Conference will feature:

  • Panel discussion with observation group leaders about their work, challenges, use of technology, and how they would like to use technology;
  • ElecTech Talks by international and regional technology expertson approaches and tools that could be applied toobservation efforts;
  • Presentations by international and regional practitioners that highlight the practical application of different approaches and tools; and
  • Unconferencing discussions to enable election observation groups and technologists to identify areas for possible collaboration.

Confirmed international and regional technology experts include:

 

A keynote speech on the future of technology in elections will be given by:

 

  • Ian Schuler, Executive Director, New Rights Group (USA), globally recognized expert in applying technology inelection observation efforts and a pioneer in the field of SMS reporting systems.

 

The Network

Launched in January 2013, the FW: Networkis intended to be an informal, web-based, community of election experts,civic activists, technologists, academics, and citizens to come together around the common goal of safeguarding elections.  The aim of the FW: Network is to provide a space for activists who want to:

  • Learn new approaches for promoting credible and transparent elections
  • Build tools and develop technologies that enhance electoral oversight
  • Share techniques on how to improve citizen participation around elections

FW: is an initiative of Democracy International, a non-governmental organization that has worked in over 60 countries to promote democracy and good governance.

To join or learn more about the FW: network visit: www.fwelections.com

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