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Digital Democracy Empowering Civic Engagement Through Digital Technologies

Access to mobile phones and the Internet is dramatically increasing around world. How can these tools be harnessed for positive social change? Digital Democracy is a non-profit organization using digital technologies to empower civic engagement. We work with local partners to develop tools that help community organizations promote human rights and build local capacity. Emphasizing the need for new media literacy, we prepare youth and communities with the tools they need to be informed and engaged citizens in the 21st century.  Ddʼs programming promotes communication, education and participation. 

Co-Founders Mark Belinsky & Emily Jacobi presenting at US Congress

Communication Handheld Human Rights uses mobile phones to make human rights data accessible and actionable. Using open source tools, HHR allows networks to communicate securely via mobile phones. Human rights groups use the platform to share informational both internally and with the outside world for advocacy.  • Currently deployed in Thailand, expanding to India, Bangladesh & inside Burma 2010 • Potential deployments in the DRC and Colombia. Election monitoring: Dd is partnering with grassroots organizations on election monitoring initiatives in SE Asia and Eastern Europe.  

Education New media literacy is critical to education in the 21st century. Dd partners with a variety of groups on programming, trainings and curriculum that educates people – particularly youth and students – on new media skills.  Project Einstein is our signature educational platform. A photography-based digital penpal program, Project Einstein connects classrooms youth in refugee camps with resettled refugees and their classmates in the US. Dd is currently developing the platform and curriculum. • Launching with schools in Thailand & Indianapolis, IN Fall 2009-Spring 2010. • Packaging curriculum and platform to make available to other communities in Fall 2010.

Participation Conferences & Barcamps: Dd actively participates in the planning and execution of conferences that bring together diverse voices. BarCamps, or conferences where everyone is a presenter, are open events that bring together technology and the social sector. Our current focus is working in Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia & the United States.  Digital Democracy TV: How is technology changing the world? DdTv is a biweekly interactive TV series highlighting surprising and inspiring work happening globally on technology & citizen empowerment.


Digital Democracy Empowering Civic Engagement Through Digital Technologies

Accomplishments Since launching in Fall 2008, Digital Democracy has conducted research and trainings on four continents, won two major awards and launched programming in the US and SE Asia. Dd staff have conducted technology and security trainings with dozens of journalists and bloggers from authoritarian regimes. We have provided computer skills certification for over 30 students from Thailand, Singapore and Burma. For Project Einstein, we have trained 30 youth in Thailand and South Africa in photography skills. In October 2009, Dd submitted written testimony to US Congress in the Helskinki Commission Briefing on "Twitter vs. Tyranny."

Partnerships Digital Democracy bridges the divide between international tech organizations and groups operating on the ground. To launch HHR in Burma, weʼre partnering with human rights groups, local tech partners the All Burma IT Students Union and the Burma Information Technology Team, and international groups Ushahidi and InSTEDD. For Project Einstein, weʼre connecting schools in Thailand to schools in Indianapolis, IN, and building the platform with Massachusetts Institute of Technologyʼs Center for Future Civic Media and Eyebeam (Art + Technology Center). For DdTv weʼre partnering with Witness, Palisade Films, and Blip.tv.

Presentations Digital Democracy has presented on our work to The Womenʼs Commission for Refugees and Children, US Institute of Peace and the Upgrade! Series on art and technology. Dd staff have presented at a variety of universities including Tufts, New York University, Columbia, Rutgers and American University.

Conferences Digital Democracy has been invited to present research and programming at conferences worldwide including MobileActive '08 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Computers, Freedom and Privacy '09. Dd's Handheld Human Rights project won third place at UC Berkeley Human Rights Center Soul of the New Machine, & a social justice award at N2Y4. Dd co-sponsored Participation Camp in New York.

Fiscal Sponsor Digital Democracy incorporated as a non-profit organization November 20th 2008. We have fiscal sponsorship (501c3 status) through the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy. IMTD is an organization has over 20 years of experience in the sector, promoting a multi-pronged approach to peace building and conflict resolution.

Support Digital Democracy is supported by a thirteen member Advisory Board and generous contributions from individuals, corporations including Google, Salesforce & Nokia, and private foundations, including the Arca Foundation. Digital Democracy 109 W 27th St, 6 fl | New York, NY 10001 USA +1-347-688-DDEM [3336] | info@digital-democracy.org | Twitter @DigiDem | www.digital-democracy.org


Digital Democracy - About Us