Supporting open government in New Europe

The “New Europe” countries that joined the European Union over the past decade are moving ahead fast to use the Internet to improve transparency and open government. We recently partnered with Techsoup Global to support online projects driving forward good governance in Romania, the Czech Republic, and most recently, in Slovakia.

Techsoup Global, in partnership with the Slovak Center for Philanthropy, recently held an exciting social-startups awards ceremony Restart Slovakia 2013 in Bratislava. Slovakia’s Deputy Minister of Finance and Digital Champion Peter Pellegrini delivered keynote promoting Internet and Open Data and announced the winners of this year contest. Ambassadors from U.S., Israel and Romania and several distinguished Slovak NGOs also attended the ceremony.

Winning projects included:

  • Vzdy a vsade – Always and Everywhere – a volunteer portal offering online and anonymous psychological advice to internet users via chat.
  • - a portal providing counsel for victims of sexual assaults.
  • Co robim – an educational online library of job careers advising young people how to choose their career paths and dream jobs.
  • Mapa zlocinu – an online map displaying various rates of criminality in different neighbourhoods.
  • - a platform focused on analyzing public statements of politicians and releasing information about politicians and truthfulness of their speeches in a user-friendly format.

An award ceremony highlight was a live concert by the Diplomatic Immunity Band. The combo (shown above at an earlier gig) includes US Ambassador Theodore Sedgwick on keyboard; Israeli ambassador Alexander Ben-Zvi on conga, Romanian Ambassador Florin Vodita on electric guitar, President of Institute of Public Affairs Grigorij Meseznikov on electro acoustic guitar, and the Banska Bystrica Mayor Peter Gogola on drums. We’re delighted they found the time to make sweet music in favor of open data and data-driven innovation.

Posted by Posted by Ondrej Socuvka, Policy Manager, Bratislava
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Here comes the collaborative economy

When travelling, have you rented somebody’s flat as an alternative to booking a room in a hotel? Or prefered the car-sharing option to taking the train? These new ways of sharing resources are increasingly becoming common practise and are part of an emerging movement often coined as the “collaborative” or “sharing” economy.

We are proud to support the “OuiShare Fest”, the first major European event dedicated to the collaborative economy taking place in Paris from May 2 to May 4. During these three days, more than 600 entrepreneurs, designers, economists, investors, politicians and citizens will come together to reflect about how to build a collaborative future.

European Commission Vice President Neelie Kroes supports the project and even has opened up her blog to a guest post from OuiShare’s organizers.

The digital economy has proved a vector of economic growth throughout Europe. It has allowed for the emergence of horizontal and networked organizations that offer new opportunities in traditional sectors from health to transportation, education and finance. Online platforms that offer services such as crowdfunding, taxi-sharing or flat-renting are testimony to the rise of new business models which are based on a culture of openness and transparency.

OuiShare will do much to “connect” the actors of this new movement across Europe and we wish them a successful OuiShare Fest.

Posted by Florian Maganza, Policy Analyst, Paris
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