A Visit to Tbilisi

…aka Discovering Georgian Tech4Transparency scene

In November we visited our Georgian partners in the capital city of Tbilisi. The purpose of the visit was to visit tech for transparency activists and organizations of one of the most distant countries in the region. A country that contributed recently to GLOW (Global Legislative Openness Week) events with a meeting on Committing to Openness – Parliamentary Action Plans, Standards and Data and a country which also struggles with opening data and making use of them.

Anna Sienicka, TechSoup Vice President, Anna Kuliberda manager of “Promoting Technology for Transparency and Accountability in CEE and Eurasia” project and Karolina Wysocka COO of ePaństwo Foundation spent 3 days on discussing needs of Georgian civil society regarding using technology for greater transparency, anti-corruption and accountability.

Meeting with main partners for this project Euroasia Partnership Foundation was particularly fruitful, because we agreed on developing not one or two initiatives in Georgia together, but as many as three!

Firstly, we will be working on increasing the usage of FOI law and open data by activist on the local – municipality level, by building their skills in data work and storytelling. Secondly together with ePaństwo we will build an application based on the idea from the My State (in Polish: Moje Państwo) set of data, that will help in analyzing of municipal fiscal data in municipalities in the country. This application will be developed under our scaling part of the project.

The third part of our cooperation is linked to building personal relations between everybody interested in technology for transparency in CEE region. With Personal Democracy Forum PL CEE coming up in March 2015 and POINT Conference to take place in May, there are also three smaller events for the network organizations only, coming up this year. EPF will partner on organizing one of the three smaller network events in Georgia. Euroasia Partnership Foundation has a long history of being involved in promoting the use of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by civil society in order to strengthen democracy in Georgia and we will focus on building awareness regarding local open data.

On top of it all, we met up with representatives of JumpStart Georgia, a grassroots civic tech organization in Tbilisi working on better accessibility to the data and on data storytelling. Eric Barrett and Jason Addie introduced us to all the complexity of the public data ecosystem in Georgia, leaving us with no doubts that what is most needed is patience and enthusiasm.

We couldn’t not meet one of the most important players regarding using technology for fighting corruption: Transparency International Georgia and its representative Mr. Erekle Urushadze, who told us about MyParliamentwebsite developed by TI Georgia and their monitoring of tenders which is based on analyzing open tenders’ public data.
We are very excited about all these next steps and having Georgian NGOs working with us!

And yes, we want to go back.

Tbilisi by Vladimer Shioshvili

foto: CC-BY Vladimer Shioshvili