Creating Technology for Social Change

Tech.del to Mexico: Civil society @ work in Ciudad Juarez

How can NGOs working on diverse projects—including graffiti, rap music and education—better reach disadvantaged communities and youth in the barrios of Juarez? How can journalists in Juarez and across Chihuahua state better communicate the positive elements of the region, encouraging citizens to play an active role in civic life? How can university students at Tec de Monterrey and other institutions in Juarez better organize both with each other and with other campuses across Mexico to become agents of change?

These are some of the questions that tech.del participants addressed during a series of roundtable events with civil society players in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico on Tuesday, August 25. Tech.del participants—including representatives from Google, Facebook, Microsoft, AT&T, Adefro Group, Liberty Concepts, FastForward Group and MIT Media Lab—explored how technology can help these grassroots organizations better communicate both within their own team frameworks, as well as to the communities they seek to engage. The idea is to support Mexican civil society efforts to address the violence, renewing and reinforcing a positive, hopeful image for Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua State and all of Mexico. Tech.del participants repeatedly encouraged these groups to use the tools that make the most sense for their particular context—whether mobile-based SMS texting, online applications or simple face-to-face contact with the right people—to deepen the roots of civil society in Mexico. By introducing and advising on the right communication strategies, Tech.del participants are helping Mexican citizens best address the challenges they face.

After our meetings in Juarez, we flew to Mexico City, landing around midnight last night. We are about to begin another full day here on the ground in Mexico City, engaging with NGOs, mobile providers, university students and professors as well as representatives from the Mexican government to discuss these same issues, but from the context of the capital city.

Our goal is to tease out deliverables and implement them as quickly as possible with the contacts we made in Juarez, and will make today in Mexico City.

Stay tuned for another installment reporting on our efforts.