accountability | MIT Center for Civic Media

Citizens & City Hall Monitor Sanitation in Belem

This past week in the northern Brazilian city of Belém do Pará, we had the pleasure of commemorating the first official collaboration between a civil society group and local government to monitor city issues using Promise Tracker. During a 2-day sprint, we teamed up with the Social Observatory of Belém and City Hall's Department of Solid Waste to review some of the largest contracts for sanitation and waste removal in the city and launch a monitoring campaign to assess the performance of the company hired to provide these services.

Piloting Promise Tracker in Sao Paulo

Over the past year, our team at Civic has been developing and testing Promise Tracker, a citizen monitoring platform that allows communities to track local infrastructure projects and hold elected leaders accountable for political promises. Building on takeaways from collaborative workshops run in Brazil in January and August, we have been creating a web and mobile toolkit to streamline the process of running a local monitoring campaign - from selecting an issue and designing a survey, to collecting data in the field and visualizing the results.

We recently returned from our 3rd trip to Brazil, during which we rolled out the full set of Promise Tracker tools for pilot testing with groups in São Paulo. Our goals for the trip were to get feedback on the new mobile data collection app and to test the full process of designing and running Promise Tracker campaigns on the ground.


Monitoring Parque Linear Itareré in Butantã

Monitorial Citizenship: Projects and Tools

Post by Chelsea Barabas, Rahul Bhargava, Heather Craig, Alexis Hope, & Jude Mwenda

Here at Civic, we have been thinking about ways to promote civic engagement in the periods between elections through monitorial democracy. We’ve noticed that in many places around the world, we have achieved open, fair, and “bad” elections. In democracies, we usually describe elections as one of our primary mechanisms for holding elected officials accountable. If your mayor promises to improve roads and fails, you can elect someone new the next cycle.

Uncovering Algorithms: Looking Inside the Facebook News Feed

How can the public learn the role of algorithms in their daily lives, evaluating the law and ethicality of systems like the Facebook NewsFeed, search engines, or airline booking systems? Today, the Berkman Center hosted a conversation about the idea of social science audits of algorithms. Presenting were: