TechCamp Engages Civil Society in Thailand

Home to a thriving technology community, Bangkok was the site of our seventh TechCamp, an interactive program that supports Secretary Clinton’s Civil Society 2.0 initiative. This TechCamp focused on capacity building for more than 50 civil society organizations working in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. Hosted by Assumption University March 20-21, TechCamp Bangkok provided training that helped equip the civil society groups with new knowledge about how to leverage free and low-cost digital tools to strengthen their organization’s missions. The missions of these civil society organizations ranged from combating human trafficking, to election monitoring, to helping support refugees, to environmental protection.

Local technology experts partnered with technologists from around the world to run interactive training sessions and small group discussions to identify the current obstacles that civil society organizations face and to think through how technology could be applied to solve challenges. Technology experts provided training on how to create a free SMS network for your organization, how to build a social media strategy, how to practice digital safety, how to build a digital map, how to use live video for citizen journalism, and more.

Kicking off the first day, the TechCamp engaged participants in a unique ice-breaking event called a “spectrogram” that solicits opinions from participants on technology and NGO work. For example, participants were asked to agree or disagree with the following statement: “If NGOs had more responsibility during the recent floods, the response would have been better.” This elicited a lively discussion from civil society and technology experts and set the stage for further discussions. Engaged and sharing ideas, participants spent the next two days joining a variety of interactive training sessions and brainstorming in small groups.

As we neared the end of TechCamp, civil society organizations presented a series of challenges and applied their new knowledge about a variety of tools, listing solutions that could be applied to their missions. A civil society organization that focuses on combating human trafficking worked on adopting a new network that would allow persons in need to anonymously report instances of trafficking by using the Internet and mobile technology. Another group focused on mobilizing and engaging youth worked with technology experts to determine how to better leverage social media to spur action from youth on social good issues. Several participants offered to volunteer and help contribute social media strategies these groups could use. Each group detailed out their challenges and solutions sets in documents that can be viewed through the TechCamp wiki.

Joining a global network of TechCampers, the over 100 participants from TechCamp Bangkok catalyzed new learning between local and international technologists and civil society. These groups are now a part of the over 400 civil society organizations trained as a part of TechCamp worldwide.

Remarks also on DipNote

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