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Research center and think tank at Harvard Kennedy School. Here to talk about democracy, government innovation, and Asia public policy.

Understanding the Case of Indonesia

Written by Marina Kusumawardhani

Postal voting package sent to an Indonesian voter for the 2019 general election. Photo via Wikimedia Commons.

The 2019 Indonesian election delegitimization attempt and the May 2019 riots around the house of the election-monitoring body in Jakarta proved just how powerful politicians’ incitement of violence could be. But months before that, it was the divided narrative of the media that created deep polarization in the country. Sources that supported the opposition produced anything from hyperpartisan news to hate speech to downright conspiracy theories. Such alternative sources went largely unchecked before and after the riots. According to my research at MIT Media Lab, there were more than 60 alternative media sources (a number that’s…

How this shift in thinking can revolutionize digital government.

Written by Naeha Rashid

Over the past decade — and further accelerated by the pandemic — a consensus has started to emerge around both the need for and the basic elements of a digital era government. The need is straight forward, citizens increasingly experience seamless, fast and omnipresent service from the private sector, resetting their expectations of how public goods should be delivered. Governments increasingly recognize that delivering on this expectation — creating a digital era government — requires some core digital infrastructure.

“Deploying the Once-Only Policy: A Privacy-Enhancing Guide for Policymakers and Civil Society Actors” was published by the Ash Center to discuss approaches as well as pitfalls when it comes to implementing the Once-Only Policy.

The cornerstone of this infrastructure is the ability of governments to collect, associate, store, and share information…

Digital government leaders on the need to rethink funding models for long-term impact

The U.S. Capitol surrounded by binary code. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons
The U.S. Capitol surrounded by binary code. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Written by David Eaves, Emily Middleton, Claire Bedoui, Rohan Sandhu

Each year, David Eaves of the Harvard Kennedy School and Public Digital convene digital service groups from over 30 governments around the world. Last June, digital government leaders stressed the need to rethink funding models for long-term impact. In recent months, donors have made new commitments to support global digital public goods. …

Written by Archon Fung, Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government

Stop the Steal rioters who broke into the Capitol on Wednesday shocked the nation by desecrating one of American democracy’s hallowed spaces. The rioters assaulted our democracy even as many of them believed they were defending it.

But the deeper ugly truth is that American democracy has few friends these days. Many — and not just on the left — correctly criticize that Americans vote at very low rates compared to most democracies, Gerrymandering distorts representation in many states, and that the six senators from California, Texas, and…

Why aggregate city data?

Chelsea, Massachusetts City Hall
Chelsea, Massachusetts City Hall
Chelsea, Massachusetts City Hall, where author Ashley Marcoux worked as an Innovation Field Lab Fellow digitalizing and aggregating datasets from across city departments

by Ashley Marcoux

From fire prevention in New Orleans to protecting children from lead poisoning in Chicago, there are no shortages of success stories from city governments that aggregate data to inform their actions. In New Orleans, private-public partnerships produced Smoke Signals, a data tool that gives the Fire Department block-by-block estimates of fire risk to target distributions of free smoke detectors. Smoke Signals now offers risk assessments for 178 cities across America. In Chicago, the Health Department and the University of Chicago partnered to identify properties that are most likely to contain lead-based paint to prioritize interventions and outreach…

A quadcopter camera drone in flight. (Josh Sorensen)

Welcome to our weekly roundup of articles and resources for state, local, and tribal leaders creating policy to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic as well as steering the social and economic recovery for their communities. Postings below do not convey endorsement of any particular organization or opinion contained in links.

Army Picks Fitbit to Develop Wearable Presymptom COVID-19 Detectors

The health and wellness wearable company plans to use the award to partner with the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research to expand testing of its internally developed algorithm.

New President, Congress Must Help Indian Country Fight Coronavirus

The relief package in March was inadequate to meet the scope of the tragedy brought about by the pandemic.

Use COVID-19 To Build Back Better, Cities Told

The United Nations…

Animals’ Bridge on Route 93 near Evaro, Montana, on the Flathead Indian Reservation. Sign in English and Salish language. (Vince Devlin)

Welcome to our weekly roundup of articles and resources for state, local, and tribal leaders creating policy to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic as well as steering the social and economic recovery for their communities. Postings below do not convey endorsement of any particular organization or opinion contained in links.

Tracking COVID-19’s Effects by Race and Ethnicity: Phase Two

Updates on People’s Health, Housing, and Livelihoods between August 19 and October 26.

Naval Hospitals Deploy Germ-Killing Robots Amid Pandemic

The tools are intended to provide an extra level of disinfection against COVID-19.

Pathways to the Post-Pandemic Workforce

The economic recession triggered by the global pandemic has magnified the need for high-quality programs that can help students acquire the skills, training, and…

A Story of Progress and Resistance

Written by Cecily Hines and Miles Rapoport

As Election Day approaches, one key issue, in Florida but also nationwide, is whether and to what degree citizens who have felony convictions on their records will have their rights restored and be able to vote. The picture is decidedly mixed. There has been real progress in many states, and stubborn resistance in others.

A Democracy Restoration Act supporter holds up a sign in protest of felony disenfranchisement in 2010 (Source: The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights)

According to a recent study by the Sentencing Project entitled “Locked Out 2020”, an estimated 5.2 million people cannot vote due to felony convictions. This represents 2.3% of the voting-age population, and — dramatically — over 6.2% of African…

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation brought together a bipartisan group of secretaries from the key swing states of Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania to discuss the challenges they are facing, the pressures they are under, and what they are doing to make the November election work for the citizens of their states.

Panelists included:

Jocelyn Benson, Secretary of State, Michigan

Kathy Boockvar, Secretary of the Commonwealth, Pennsylvania

Frank LaRose, Secretary of State, Ohio

Miles Rapoport (Moderator), Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy, Ash Center

Early reports show signs that the massive effort to recruit poll workers across the United States is paying off, though some counties are still in need of help

Photo Credit: Scott Beale / Laughing Squid

Written by Miles Rapoport and Cecily Hines

Six months ago, as the coronavirus grabbed hold of American society and America’s elections, a chilling question arose: Would a massive shortage of poll workers threaten the ability of voters to cast their ballots on election day?

Anyone who has ever voted knows that the poll workers up until now have mainly been seniors who volunteered for this low-paid day of work year after year. This year, however, given the ongoing risk to seniors, that pool of workers has been dramatically reduced, creating the possibility of a dangerous shortage of these critical volunteers…

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