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Sensors, Empowerment and Accountability: A Digital View from East Africa
International Journal of Digital Earth (2011)
  • Robert Hoppe, University of Twente
  • Yola Georgiadou, University of Twente
Several innovative ‘participatory sensing’ initiatives are underway in East Africa. They can be seen as local manifestations of the global notion of Digital Earth. The initiatives aim to amplify the voice of ordinary citizens, and improve citizens’ capacity to directly influence public service delivery and hold local government accountable. The popularity of these innovations is, among other things, a local reaction to the partial failure of the millennium development goals (MDGs) to deliver accurate statistics on public services in Africa. Empowered citizens, with access to standard mobile phones, can ‘sense’ via text messages and report failures in the delivery of local government services. The public disclosure of these reports on the web and other mass media may pressure local authorities to take remedial action. In this paper, we outline the potential and research challenges of a ‘participatory sensing’ platform, which we call a ‘human sensor web’. Digital Africa’s first priority could be to harness continent-wide and national data as well as local information resources, collected by citizens, in order to monitor, measure, and forecast MDGs.
  • public policy,
  • accountability,
  • digital technology,
  • human sensors,
  • empowerment,
  • East Africa
Publication Date
Citation Information
Robert Hoppe and Yola Georgiadou. "Sensors, Empowerment and Accountability: A Digital View from East Africa" International Journal of Digital Earth (2011)
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