TechCamp Inspires Open Government Activity in Moldova

June 6, 2012
Moldova Open Innovation Week 2012 Participants Discuss Ideas

Moldova Open Innovation Week 2012 was held from May 14-20 in Chisinau. Attended by more than 100 technology developers and civil society representatives, this was a follow-up event to TechCamp Moldova, a State Department event held last summer that focused on capacity-building for civil society on the themes of open government and transparency.

Open Innovation Week aimed to engage private sector and civil society in support of Moldova's Open Government National Action Plan, which was developed consistent with Moldova's role as a participant in the Open Government Partnership (OGP). A new multilateral initiative, OGP aims to secure concrete commitments from participant governments to promote transparency, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance.

The week's events included "Data Driven Journalism Bootcamp for Moldovan Media,""Moldova ICT Summit," a mini-TechCamp, and a Hackathon entitled "Apps for Moldova." The mini-TechCamp continued the important work of building the digital literacy of civil society and defining their local challenges, while the Hackathon aimed to address some of those challenges by leveraging open government data to develop mobile applications.

It was exciting to see effective and useful apps emerge during the mini-TechCamp and Hackathon. One of the apps allows users to map and rate doctors in the local area, while one of the widgets that was developed displays open government data from various websites. The State Department participated as a part of the team of judges who selected the top apps, four of which received funding from the eGovernment Center. Wayne Burke, the event's facilitator, offers his detailed account here.

Oleg Petrov, an open government champion at the World Bank, orchestrated the recent “Apps for Moldova” Hackathon. Petrov said, "[This project] is a rather innovative concept which we are testing here in Moldova and that we hope to repeat on a regular basis in other areas in partnership with the U.S. State Department and many others."

And for good reason! Open Innovation Week and the Hackathon were just two of the results of TechCamp Moldova. Those who attended the TechCamp last year continue to work toward more open government initiatives. For example, Stela Mocan, head of the eGovernment Center said, "[TechCamp] was the first time that we understood why we would use open data." Since TechCamp, Stela and her team have worked closely with the World Bank to shape these ideas into reality.

The Moldovan government has also started to take notice by appointing a representative in each ministry to handle open government issues. Several projects now underway to advance Moldova' Open Government commitments include:

  • An online map of all NGOs in Moldova that allows citizens to identify and utilize available services is now being funded by FHI 360 and is expected to launch this summer;
  • A “Foreign Aid Monitoring System” platform to provide foreign aid information to citizens, who can also use it as a tool to monitor government spending;
  • Apps like alerte.md, a crowdsourcing platform for tracking social problems, such as damaged roads that need government attention, and afla.md, a platform for rating schools and teachers to help foster communication between parents, teachers, and government authorities;
  • Hai Moldova, an app by Trimetrica, is now motivating the citizens to participate in large-scale trash cleanups in their city. Check out the video here.

The success of projects like these, along with a growing interest and understanding of the importance of opening new data sets for public consumption, is a huge win for Moldova. It will be exciting to see what comes next. You can learn more about the TechCamp and Apps for Moldova in this video.

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