A network of civic tech activists from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), working on tools (incl. scaling), research, and peer learning, running since 2013.
This case study is part of a report we published in April 2018, exploring how “super nodes” support DSI initiatives to grow and scale. You can read the full report here.
Super node: ePa?stwo Foundation
Issue to be resolved
The ePa?stwo Foundation, together with TechSoup Europe, Action SEE, K-Monitor and OPORA, has established TransparenCEE. The role of the Network is to support developing technology, publish reports as well as organizing events that promote the network`s mission.
The Network understands that global challenges have to be solved globally, on the intersectoral and international level. Despite significant differences between the CEE countries in the past, they are sharing similar challenges that cannot be solved on the national level only. Still too often, however, civic tech is primarily oriented towards offering solutions on the level of specific municipalities or countries only, thereby limiting their potential to tackle similar challenges in other CEE countries.
One of the main aims of the Network is to support the development of tools that address problems of corruption, lack of public participation or secrecy. In the last three years the Network has supported or directly worked on tools like:
- Redflags (redflags.eu) – barometer of corruption risks in public procurement. Scaled from Hungary to Poland.
- Javna Razprava - tool to communicate with MPs scaled from Bosnia to Albania.
- Faktograf – fact-checking site scaled from Bosnia to Croatia. https://transparencee. org/scaled-tool/fact-checking-politicianscroatia/
- Konflikti Interesa – Assets Declarations’ digital platform scaled from Slovakia to Montenegro.
- Moonsheep – a tool to coordinate a community of volunteers that would transcribe scans of public documents and turn it into structured open data. Read our case sudy on Moonsheep here.
We strongly support networking between organizations from different parts in CEE. This can happen during big events organized by the Network partners (Personal Democracy Forum (PDF) CEE in Poland, POINT in Bosnia and Hercegovina and PDF Ukraine) but also smaller ones such as expert meet-ups in Kyiv and Tbilisi. Workshops and training are also delivered.
The network also provides research and analyses that support activists to get up to speed with the most important trends in civic technology. See https://transparencee.org/resources/
Role of the super node
Although informal, The Network has a sustainable structure. The Board consists of representatives of 5 organizations. To improve day-to-day activities the members of the Board choose among themselves three organizations to run the Rotating Secretariat. The Board decides on all matters upon consensus and is responsible to deliver support for:
- organizing international conferences where people can learn and network like at Personal Democracy Forum CEE;
- holding workshops that address specific knowledge gaps within the community, such as open data for beginners, data advocacy or data visualization;
- developing cross-border solutions in thematic working groups on public procurement or declaration of assets;
- replicating and documenting successful technology solutions. For us, replication is a mean to engage extended partnership of CSOs from different countries in a work that will be relevant to their specific local needs
- creating practice-oriented research and analysis, also in different versions (research paper, vizualization, infographics) like Report on Assets Declaration;
- mapping projects and organizations – to increase their chances to connect and cooperate with others.
The following results were obtained in the last two years:
- 7 tools were replicated or created (all in the international cooperation)
- 12 events and workshops were organized
- 3 meeting of Thematic Working Groups
- 15 researches and analysis were published
Much more tools are being developed by organizations that cooperate with each other thanks to the fact that the Network has introduced a broad space for networking.
We also consider people opinions as an important part of results. Based on evaluation surveys all our activities are highly valued by participants for:
- New and useful knowledge, competences, and skills;
- Unorthodox perspectives, bringing up interesting and important subjects and issues;
- Speakers, trainers, experts we bring;
- Being inspiring and expanding perspectives;
- Possibility to meet new people, network, create new bonds.
- Possibility to exchange ideas and opinions, self-express, participate in peer-learning, etc.
With less funding we are concentrating on increasing the visibility of the network and cooperating on the smaller scale in terms of organizing international workshops and events. We are also developing the strategy to introduce the innovation on a few different levels:
- Use more bottom-up approach. A networking approach addresses the local needs, improves the quality of the content delivered during its timeframe and beyond its end, sustainability of its outcomes and competencies of all actors involved with the special emphasis on CEE civic tech organizations.
- Cross-sector cooperation. We are exploring models of work of organizations networked in Code for All which is a community-driven platform based on the cross-border and crosssector model of using technology for social good. We wish to improve our cross sector cooperation abilities.
Popularizing co-creation and replication methods between partners from CEE and beyond can increase the level of effectiveness of designing and implementing tools by using the process oriented methods involving civic tech community cooperation. This should receive a more explicit focus.