Technology and innovation have changed the conditions for statecraft in the 21st century. In a 2009 speech in Marrakesh, Morocco, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Civil Society 2.0, an initiative focused on assisting non-governmental and civil society organizations in using new digital tools and technologies to increase the reach and impact of their work. The TechCamp model is a hallmark of 21st century statecraft.
In May 2011, over 70 civil society organizations from Indonesia came together with leading technologists from around the world at the @america building for Kampung Tekno Jakarta, or "TechCamp: Jakarta." Civil society groups worked with both the private sector and top technologists to better understand how to utilize technology and maximize their capacity in the areas of climate change and disaster response.
"TechCamp: Jakarta" opened with an address from Ted Osius, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy Jakarta, followed by remarks from Walter North, USAID Mission Director. Next, Michael Jones, founder of Google Earth, gave an overview of the mapping system and discussed its benefits for disaster and climate change relief.
In addition to the civil society participants, trainers from Ushahidi, Crowdflower, Open Street Map, Frontline: SMS, InStedd, DigitalesporChile, and CrisisCommons participated in fast-paced training sessions on how to use technology for disaster relief and combating climate change. “Speed-geeking” allowed all participants to meet, speak with, and understand ways to apply these technologies directly to each civil society participants' specific work. The event also brought together several private sector partners, many of whom committed to donate resources and time following "TechCamp: Jakarta." Thanks to Microsoft, Cisco, Chartis, Google, Alcatel-Lucent, Intel, Novartis, and local telecom companies XL, Telkomsel and Indosat for their support and participation.
"TechCamp: Jakarta" was successful because of its interactive and collaborative design. Participants worked in small groups for hands-on training with facilitated discussions around disaster relief and climate change. Groups identified common challenges and worked with technologists and private sector partners to come up with thoughtful ways in which technology might solve local challenges.
For example, one participant plans to take the tools and private sector connections he made at TechCamp to continue his work towards eliminating illegal deforestation throughout Indonesia. The private sector is working with a few NGOs on increasing connectivity throughout the islands. And several participants are now working to expand Indonesia 129, a free service which provides emergency care and relief through SMS. (They are applying the Haiti 4636 approach in Indonesia).
Planning is underway for future TechCamps in Lithuania and Moldova. If you are interested in learning more about Civil Society 2.0, TechCamps or in hosting a future TechCamp please contact Katie Dowd or Noel Dickover.