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What is Civil Society 2.0?

This is cross-posted from the Tech@State site

Civil Society (CS) 2.0 is an effort by the US State Department to galvanize the technology community to be able to assist CS organizations across the globe by providing capabilities, resources and assistance to enable CS organizations to harness the latest ICT advances to build their digital capacity. Through CS 2.0, new CS efforts will be cultivated, and existing CS organizations will have ready-made avenues to quickly understand, access and use the latest technologies to better organize, communicate, fundraise, and advocate their goals and interests.

In promoting CS 2.0, there are three separate efforts which must be undertaken to reach its full potential:

  • Cultivate a CS 2.0 Technology Community which is comprised of technology people and companies, CS luminaries and activists, and socially conscious individuals around the globe.
  • Develop a network of Civil Society 2.0 Promotion Organizations like the State Department, World Bank, and the UN, who work with on-the-ground technology assistance personnel, including ICT NGOs to both to help indentify valid needs and requirements from CS organizations, and to provide information, consultation and recommendations on specific CS projects.
  • Cultivate relationships and communities of practice within specific CS topics, such as disaster response and risk management, environmental issues, economic opportunity, digital freedom initiatives, innovative education approaches, and women’s issues in developing countries.

Cultivating a CS 2.0 Technology Community: The State Department will assist in convening the technology community, CS luminaries and activists and other ICT organizations to form a CS 2.0 Technology Community that can help address the needs of civil society organizations across many different areas of need. The State Department will facilitate the cultivation of such a CS 2.0 Technology Community by providing information, consultation, recommendations and liaison support, but State will in no way own, direct or manage such an initiative. In essence, this becomes an opportunity for participants in the technology community to take a leadership role in making CS 2.0 a reality. Products produced by and made available from the CS 2.0 Technology Community could consist of software, resources or personnel assistance, including:

  • Ready-made, free or open source toolkits for CS organizations to quickly take, customize and use for their own needs.
  • Easy to use training on social software tools and technologies that can be delivered both via the web and mobile platforms.
  • In-kind donations such as web or server space, software or technology development resources.
  • Community-based platforms that aid in discovery of like-minded CS organizations and people to help build capacity, which might support global communities of practice around specific topic areas such as women’s issues in developing countries, for instance.
  • Projects that can aid specific sectors of the CS world, such as situational awareness apps that can show the status of ground water pollution, for instance.

CS 2.0 Promotion Organizations: A network of organizations like the State Department, foreign governments, USAID, UN organizations, and Multi-lateral Development Banks (MDBs) like the World Bank, needs to be convened to help bring about partnerships between local and global ICT NGOs and local technology companies working with on the ground CS organizations. Facilitating such partnerships between technology and CS organizations will lead to the technology organizations gaining a better understanding of the CS organizations needs, and thus, will allow these technology organizations to provide appropriate assistance and training to increase CS organizations’ digital capacity. Guidance and liaison assistance provided by the Network of CS 2.0 Promotion Organizations would include:

  • Facilitating region specific or topic area specific conferences to bring technology and CS organizations together so they can explore ways that (non USG) technology organizations can assist CS organizations with training, personnel and resources,
  • Liaison to cultivate global communities of practice comprised of multiple CS organizations, networked together,
  • Packaging a repeatable approach to CS TechCamp conferences, which can be taken and easily used for additional conferences around the globe, and
  • Facilitating the identification of valid needs and requirements from both individual and networked CS organizations so that these can be shared with the technical organizations for their consideration and assistance.

Digitally Empowered CS Organizations: CS Organizations, such as those interested in humanitarian relief efforts, environmental issues, digital freedom initiatives, innovative education approaches, and women’s issues in developing countries can benefit from the CS 2.0 effort. Those who take advantage of the CS 2.0 effort will be exposed to new methods and capabilities for raising their digital capacity to organize, communicate, fundraise, and advocate their interests. This can happen either by directly tapping into the capabilities, resources and people in the CS 2.0 Technology Community, or by working through the Network of CS 2.0 Promotion Organizations. By participating in larger social networks of similar CS organizations, the expectation is that the CS organizations in each topical area will form greater bonds with one another, and will be able to learn from one another in mentor-mentee type relationships.

Overall Outcome: The end goal for the CS 2.0 Technology Community and the Network of CS 2.0 Promotion Organizations is to enable CS organizations to increase their ability to leverage technology to meet their real-world goals. It is anticipated that larger networked groupings of CS organizations will form around natural topic areas (digital freedom, humanitarian relief, women’s issues, etc.) and regions. New social networks should form, along while new “free agent” participants joining the network. The end result is an environment which leads to networked, more capable and resilient CS organizations that will impact their target areas faster than before with more effectiveness.

Phase 1 Activities: For the initial phase of CS 2.0, the State Department will liaison with other stakeholders, and partners in the technology community to begin institutionalizing CS 2.0 ideas. This will involve a framework for hosting CS 2.0 coordination and information sharing conferences and CS 2.0 training events to develop partnerships between technology participants and CS organizations. This will include methods to for attendees and trainers to connect online to a virtual CS 2.0 network. Specifically, the following actions by the State Department need to be taken:

  • Provide thought leadership to the CS world to put forward the idea of CS 2.0 and its role in assisting CS organizations around the globe. This includes the development of a web presence and outreach activities that describe CS 2.0 and how other organizations can get involved.
  • Package a repeatable structure called “CS TechCamp”, which other organizations can take and implement to foster CS 2.0 activities.
  • Liaison with the Technology community to convene an initial CS 2.0 tribe that can grow and take shape in an organic fashion. This CS 2.0 tribe could then work to make available an initial set of tools and technologies that can be applied by CS organizations.
  • Socialize the concept of CS 2.0 to the other major CS 2.0 Promotion Organizations. Ideally, the State Department will be one among many large scale organizations who facilitate such efforts.
  • Facilitating initial conferences in different regions of the world to promote the ideas of CS 2.0.

Find out more about Civil Society 2.0 by coming to the Tech@State event on November 4, and the Unconference at the World Bank on November 5. – http://techatstate.eventbrite.com/

Comments, thoughts?

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Adriel Hampton

Wow, this is so exciting! Noel, does State have anyone out this way to participate in CityCampSF and educate folks about this initiative?

Noel Dickover

Hi Adriel, we’d love to have someone come out there to CityCampSF. Our challenge is our travel calendar is really getting full. We’re driving toward a hard launch in Santiago, Chile on November 20, but have been socializing it with folks in all sorts of places. Richard Boly has spent this past week doing so in Portland, Seattle and British Columbia, for instance.

Adriel Hampton

Noel, if you need additional blogger contacts in Santiago, it’s actually the most-represented city on a new social network I’ve been active on, EmpireAvenue.com, and I’d be happy to make introductions. If no one is able to come out here, at least we can bring it up. It sounds like an initiative that SF’s Neighborhood Empowerment Network would be really interested in.

Daniel Homsey

Hey Gents – this sounds really cool and our model – the Neighborhood Empowerment Network” could be an strong option for folks. Noel – care to set up a time to chat?

Noel Dickover

Hi Daniel, absolutely would love to chat with you. The whole intent of this approach is to give a bigger spotlight to folks who are doing great stuff, but perhaps need more “swarming” behavior around them. While thousands will show up to help out in a disaster, trying to get interest in a mobile education initiative in Tanzania, for instance, is another matter. Are you in the DC area or should we do this via phone?

And Adriel, definitely send any blogger contacts in Santiago my way. We are fairly well connected with the Tech Community there, but we really would love to have as good a set of folk as possible.

Daniel Homsey

Noel – I’m not in the DC Area – we’re here in SF. Any chance we can set up a con call in the coming weeks? How about first thing this Thursday the 23rd AM – say 9am my time – noon yours?

Noel Dickover

Hi Daniel, that should work – that said I’m on a train going back to DC right now so I’ll check to make sure tomorrow. email me at dickovernt at state dot gov to set a number.

Ed Milligan

Noel, do you know how/if anyone from DoD Strategic Communications arena is actively participating? Would think the would be grand opportunity to bridge DoD and Federal efforts. Sounds like this is the beginning of truly formalizing Soft Power as an instrument of diplomacy.

What a lineup of speakers on that conf agenda! Wish I could have attended. Can you share a few highlights/outcomes from this 3rd CS2.0 event?