Social media and governance


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Depiction of the use of MobileVaani platform to provide a definitive social media platform to the un-served and under served rural communities, who are economically backward, and reside in the bottom of the pyramid.
MobileVaani has created a paradigm change in the media consumption habits of the rural populations in the state of Jharkhand, where they are consuming community generated content and actively engaging with stakeholders who constitute their eco-system.
This platform has provided an effective process to cut bureaucratic red tape, and improve governance in these often isolated communities, giving the administration last mile connect to these communities and enabling them to serve them better.
This platform has also provided a means to get the voice of the community heard by the government and thus created a vibrant two way , effective communication medium.

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Social media and governance

  1. 1. Citizens being able toshare information with acommon context are ableto help each other under-stand the implications ofcurrent events and govern-ment schemes.Self expression providesan opportunity to them toexpress their opinion.And the self-organizingproperties of social mediahelp others comment anddiscuss the topic, andcome up with coordinateand articulate voices thatrepresent the views of thecitizens.Plus the fact that morethan a billion users arealready on Facebook pro-vides a ready medium forcitizen-government en-gagement.What is so special aboutsocial media?We believe that socialmedia has certain inherentproperties that make itvery interesting:- Opportunity for selfexpression: Social mediawebsites such as Face-book and Twitter pro-vide immense opportu-nity for anybody to putout their thoughts andopinion, and make them-selves heard across theworld- Shared context: Socialrelations capture theembedding of socialmedia into the realworld, and make sharedinformation contextual tothe recipients. Informationtransforms as it perpetu-ates along social links,gaining context and be-coming more and morerelevant as it progresses- Self organizing and cor-recting: Simple communi-cation primitives that al-low people to easily shareinformation, strive forvalidation, and connect itto the real world, helppeople get organized andput out coherent voices torelevant stakeholdersThis degree of social con-nectivity, opportunity forself-expression, and anopen medium to debateand engage is unprece-dented in human history.So what this mean forgovernance? Governancecannot happen without acitizen connect, and socialmedia provides an idealvehicle for this.The relevance of social media for governanceGram Vaani Community MediaSocial media andgovernance for theBoPSocial media and governanceA framework forcitizen-governmentengagement usingsocial media What is the relevanceof social media Building voice andvideo based socialmedia platforms forthe BoP Points for institu-tional connect be-tween social mediaand governmentsystems Local governanceaided through socialmedia A case study: Self-reporting and com-munity audit plat-form for garbagemonitoring A case study: Jhark-hand Mobile Vaaniand its role in im-proving governance Learn about GramVaani and our pio-neering work inbuilding ICTs to em-power communitiesCitizen-governmentengagement via socialmedia:Moving towardsparticipatory democracy
  2. 2. literacy barriers, and thewide proliferation of mobilephones even at the BoP pro-vides a ready medium.Several pilots using IVRbased systems to enablevoice-based communication,the success of communityradio , and experiments oncommunity video have dem-onstrated the potential inusing voice and video tobuild the equivalent of aFacebook for rural India.These forums are typicallymoderated, and have anexclusive focus on local con-tent production and con-sumption.Rural and low-income urbanpopulations are not on Inter-net based social media plat-forms such as Facebook adTwitter. Poor text literarycoupled with sparse Internetconnectivity and the inabilityto afford smartphones aresome factors that inhibit thereach of social media to thebottom of the pyramid popu-lation.How then can Internet-likesocial media eco-systems becreated for this demogra-phy?The answer probably lies inthe use of voice and video.Being able to communicatein voice automatically jumpsSocial media for the BoP?TBIU Unit 9Synergy Building 2nd floorIIT Delhi, Hauz KhasNew Delhi, 110 016Phone: 011-2658-1524E-mail: contact@gramvaani.orgWebsite: http://www.gramvaani.orgWe started Gram Vaani in 2009 withthe intent of reversing the flow ofinformation, that is, to make it bot-tom-up instead of top-down. Usingsimple technologies and social con-text to design tools, we have beenable to impact communities at large -more than 2 million users in over 7Indian States, Afghanistan, Pakistan,Namibia and South Africa. More in-teresting than this are the outcomesof what we have done: Forty ruralradio stations are able to manageand share content over mobiles andthe web, corrupt ration shop officialsin Jharkhand were arrested due tocitizen complaints made on our plat-form, Women Sarpanches in UttarPradesh shared learning and opin-ions on their work with senior gov-ernment officials, and citizens wereable to monitor and report on wastemanagement in 18 wards of Delhi tohold MCD officials accountable fortheir work. We work with organiza-tions all across India and in otherdeveloping parts of the world.Gram Vaani Community MediaEmpowering communities throughtechnology, media, and developmentwww.gramvaani.orgAwards we have won:- Knight News Challengein 2008- Manthan Awards in2009- Economic Times Powerof Ideas awards in2010- Rising Stars in GlobalHealth award in 2012- mBillionth South AsiaAward in 2012Workflow of a typical voice/video based community medianetwork
  3. 3. We can consider a two-wayflow of information betweencitizen driven social mediaplatforms, and the govern-ment hierarchy:- From the government to-wards the social media eco-system: This would typicallyconsist of announcements,details of governmentschemes, and new initia-tives. The social media eco-system helps spread theinformation and contextual-ize it for different agents inthe eco-system- From the social media eco-system towards the govern-ment hierarchy: This wouldconsist of feedback from thecitizens about the perform-ance of governmentschemes, what is workingand what is not, and griev-ances that require someaction on behalf of the gov-ernment.ProblemsSeveral issues currently hin-der this connect from oper-ating effectively:- Social media is not recog-nized as an official outreachchannel: Most governmentdepartments do not use so-cial media for outreach,especially new experimentssuch as voice-based socialmedia platforms operatingin rural areas. Empanelledoutreach agencies typicallyconsist of traditional massmedia such as radio, televi-sion, print, and cinema,which are not interactiveand do not allow for anycontextualization- There is a lack of under-standing of how informationmessaging works in ruralareas: Centrally producedcontent lacks local contextand is hence less effective ininfluencing the behavior ofrural populations towardsup-take of governmentschemes or best-practices inlivelihood and other activi-ties. Social media has thetremendous potential ofcontextualizing informationto make it locally relevant,but the notion of facilitatinglocal content creation basedon guidelines does not exist- Giving a ear to social me-dia conversations: Very of-ten social media conversa-tions are ignored as mean-ingless chatter or as lackingin credibility. Even moder-ated and verified citizeninputs are however rarelyable to reach the concernedauthorities because plugsinto the government hierar-chy do not exist that canlisten to citizen inputs andrespond. The equivalent ofan RTI process is absentwhen it comes to govern-ment engagement with so-cial media.RecommendationsThe following steps cantherefore be catalytic in initi-ating citizen-governmentengagement using socialmedia:- Use social media channelsfor outreach and citizen con-nect at all levels — Central,State, Local — by mandatingthat government depart-ments should look beyondtraditional media for out-reach- Pioneer a novel outreachprocess by handing outONLY message and contextu-alization guidelines to agen-cies operating social mediaplatforms: Marking a depar-ture from conventionalthinking of producing con-tent centrally and distribut-ing it, move towards facili-tating distributed contentgeneration and distribution,while giving guidelines onthe messages the contentshould carry- Designate social mediaresponse personnel in eachgovernment department atdifferent levels: Just like agrievance cell, a social mediacell should listen to commu-nity audit reports and de-mands brought in throughsocial media channels. Fur-ther, independent agenciescan be engaged to verify thesocial media messages.- Run polls to collect inputsaround building consensuson local issues- Hold local institutions di-rectly accountable to thecommunities by publishingperformance reports andmeeting minutes in text orvoice- Bring transparency to localbudgeting and fund alloca-tionOther than integrating socialmedia eco-systems with gov-ernment departments, socialmedia can be used for moreinclusive local governance.This includes the following:- Create deliberations amongcommunities on local issuessuch as budgeting, resourceallocation, running educa-tion and health institutions,and management of thecommonsBuilding an institutional connect between social media andgovernment departmentsLocal governance aided through social mediaPage 3Social media and governance for the BoP“Rather thancentral contentproductionfollowed bymassdistribution, amove isrequiredtowardsdistributedcontentproduction andconsumption,while ONLYprovidingguidelines forthe messages tobe carried inthe content”Framework for citizen-government engagement using socialmedia at the local level, and along the government hierarchy
  4. 4. Gram Vaani helped the MCDrun a pro-bono pilot on itsFullcircle platform, to moni-tor and audit garbage clean-ing sites across 18 wards ofDelhiDates: Jun to Nov 2011Objective: To build a self-reporting system for moni-toring garbage collectionactivities, and allow commu-nities to audit the reportsPilot project: The MCD man-dated its contractors across18 wards of Delhi to senddaily reports about thecleanliness status of gar-bage collection sites.Updates were delivered us-ing SMS, carrying informa-tion about whether or not aspecific garbage site hadbeen cleaned that day.These SMSes were used togenerate a dashboard forthe city that could be que-ried in real time by con-cerned citizens, and whocould dispute the reportedclaims.A fortnightly meeting washeld with the MCD commis-sioner to discuss the reportsand disputes, if any. Themeetings were attended bythe contractors as well, whowould have to answer to thecommissioner for any dis-crepancy reports.Results: The self-reportinghelped the MCD understandits own internal points ofinefficiency. The citizen ac-countability angle furtherhelped bring responsive-ness. MCD has now includedthe requirement for such asystem in its IT contract.and accessed is broad basedcomprising of folk songs,local news and announce-ments, questions and shar-ing of best practices onhealth and agriculture, andfeedback on governmentschemes.Gram Vaani has also built alarge network of field part-ners who are instrumentalin carrying out significantoffline activity and follow-ups on the information dis-cussed on the forum. Thisincludes a number of localpartner organizations:The Jharkhand Mobile Vaaninetwork is a voice-basedinteraction platform oper-ated by Gram Vaani onwhich people can call andshare messages and storieswith each other.The Mobile Vaani network inJharkhand reaches out tomore than 35,000 userswho regularly interact onthe platform contributingcall volumes as high as2,500 calls per day.Concerned rural citizens arethe primary participants,and the content contributed- Panchayat Nama whichcovers JMV discussions intheir weekly publication- Organizations includingPHRN, GSA, Leads Trust,Sesame, IDF, PLAN, JSACS,Red Cross Society andPRADAN, which help answerquestions and provide infor-mation to JMV callers- Progressive district collec-tors from a few districtswho take the communityfeedback into considerationwhile planning projectsGram Vaani case study: Fullcircle platform for the MunicipalCorporation of Delhi to instrument its performanceGram Vaani case study: Jharkhand Mobile Vaani and its linkage with government andother stakeholdersPage 4Social media and governance for the BoPMCD had set up a separateFacebook cell to respond tocomments on social mediaScreenshot of Gram Vaani’s Fullcircle platform- State departments includ-ing the Department of La-bour which helps addressgrievances and communityaudit reports put out by theJMV callersJMV has so far publishedover 4,000 stories, run 8information campaigns, andhas documented more than150 impact stories that re-sulted because of its inter-ventions. The network isnow being expanded withthe help from local partnersto several more states in-cluding UP, Bihar, West Ben-gal, Orissa, HP, Uttara-khand, Haryana, MP, andAP.