#Democracy #Hackathon

On April 3-8 of 2016, Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD) organized a training on programming language and Democracy Hackathon for the alumni of NIMD Democracy Schools. Up to 20 participants from Telavi, Gori, Kutaisi and Batumi were selected as a result of competition and brought together to Kutaisi for week long intensive training and technology workshop.

Technological innovation pervades modern politics and notably, more and more political movements throughout the world are fueled by new technologies. Internet-based programs, social media and diverse type of applications play a game-changing role in decision-making, spreading information, mobilizing public opinion, supporting wider public engagement, increasing governments’ transparency and accountability. Leading states and organizations realize the growing future role of programming and invest in relevant training and in the improvement their educational systems according to the new needs.

In our context, investing in the development of new technologies, may serve as a crucial factor for saving and growing Georgia’s economy and in a long run, obtaining a competitive position in the region. Besides, underestimation the role of internet programs, social media or mobile technologies in politics and democracy, will be a historical shortsightedness. 

NIMD has recently started working in the realm of political innovations and considers essential to support disseminating the knowledge of programming and coding through Democracy Schools, where civil activists, students, representatives of political parties and local authorities are undertaking intensive training courses on democratic governance and political action issues. 

The training on coding aimed at building sufficient basic skills amongst the selected alumni to start developing simple tools that they can use in their everyday work to for example, reach out to different constituencies, mobilize communities, engage different groups in policy formulation or simply to share and spread good ideas across. By providing them with simple skills to start with, NIMD intended to give these alumni a possibility to self-develop independently and become more proficient and knowledgeable in this important area of social activity. 

Coding is an alphabet of future. That is why we want alumni of Democracy Schools to be equipped with knowledge, which will contribute to their future success - 

Levan Tsutskiridze, NIMD Representative in the Eastern European Neighborhood 

Giorgi Vakhtangishvili and his colleague, both invited from GeoLab, introduced participants to basics of programming languages, logical and innovative thinking, taught Java programming for Android mobile phones, Android operational systems and developing App prototypes. 

We've talked about security, hackers, artificial intelligence...about technology market and start-up culture, which helped participants to raise awareness about modern developments in technology - 

Giorgi Vakhtangishvili, Trainer, GeoLab

Trainer Giorgi Vakhtangishvili explaining basics of building apps
Participants mastering the code
Building an App requires deep concentration
It's all about team-work
Giorgi - always ready to help the teams
...and another team
...and one more team
App prototype in development
24 hours to develop App prototypes

In order to showcase the potential of new technologies on the one hand and to demonstrate that coding is something that democracy activists must and can easily muster, NIMD conducted a Democracy Hackathon as a culmination of the training. 

During the #DemocracyHackathon, which usually is 48-hour-long nonstop technology workshop, participants form groups around ideas or problems and code together to provide solutions. Democracy School alumni exercised the skills they have learned during the training and successfully developed application prototypes that can be applied in their work related to democratization, media reporting and journalism or citizen engagement. 

On April 8, presentation of applications was open to public and attended by wider group of Kutaisi Democracy School alumni.

See the brief description of each group idea and follow the links under the photos for full videos from presentations.

NIMD-Timer is an app linked to elections calendar, automatically sending updates to the subscribed electorate
ASAP - App for anonymous reporting of problems in a city
Communique - App for easier connection with city services
Control MP - App enabling control of Members of Parliament, tracking and ranking their voting activities
Tenders - enabling users to receive messages easily about state procurement agency news
Comfort Space - App for disabled persons to easily find accessible spaces and report on lack of accessibility.
Who's the winner ?

The jury, comprising of NIMD representatives and trainers' team, spent about an hour ranking team-work results based on several criteria. Finally, Comfort Space was announced a winner project and the authors were awarded with the symbolic prize. 

Comfort Space Team Member


#CodingforDemocracy & #DemocracyHackathon was implemented with the support of the Dutch Embassy to Tbilisi. 

Watch the full documentary about NIMD training on #coding and #DemocracyHackathon
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