Marketing Visionary. Thinker. Thought-provoker. Curator. Blogger. Cupcake addict. #Crowdsourcing enthusiast. Interested in all things #startup. Especially in #civicgood, #gov20, #opengov, and #socialgov.

UNICEF Taps Into The Power Of Unplugging*

Since we’re more addicted to our smartphones than ever before, we thought it would be interesting to create a connection between something we think we can’t live without (our cell phones) and something we actually can’t live without (clean water). ~Susannah Masur, UNICEF 

Every day, 1,400 children under five die from diarrheal diseases linked to water, sanitation and hygiene. The UNICEF Tap Project is a campaign designed to combat the problem by driving awareness and raking in donations to UNICEF’s global water and sanitation programs for children. 

The Project launched in New York City in 2007 with a simple call to action. During World Water Week (the end of March), restaurants across the United States encouraged patrons to donate $1 or more for the tap water they usually enjoy for free with donations supporting UNICEF’s water and sanitation programs.

Since its inception, the UNICEF Tap Project has raised nearly $4.5 million for water sanitation in Belize, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Nicaragua, Côte d’Ivoire, Guatemala, Haiti, Iraq, Mauritania, Togo and Vietnam. 

This year with the release of a new mobile web app, UNICEF is making it easier than ever for people to support the Tap Project. We caught up with the UNICEF team to learn more.

What went into designing and creating a mobile app? 

Advertising agency Droga5 is our founding partner for the UNICEF Tap Project, and we worked closely with them to create this year’s concept. Every year we ask ourselves the same question, “Why should people care about access to clean water?” 

Clean water is something most of us in the U.S. take for granted, and it’s hard to put ourselves in the shoes of a child halfway across the globe for whom safe drinking water is a luxury.

Since we’re more addicted to our smartphones than ever before, we thought it would be interesting to create a connection between something we think we can’t live without (our cell phones) and something we actually can’t live without (clean water). 

We wanted to put things into perspective and allow people to reflect on the issue of clean water and their own realities at the same time.

How does the app work? 

For every ten minutes spent on the UNICEF Tap Project mobile experience, Giorgio Armani Fragrances and other donors will provide the funding equivalent of one day of clean water for a child. Once the cell phone is touched after activating the mobile web app, the site calculates the time spent and impact of the effort. 

Throughout the process, the app also provides facts about water access and record times set by other users in the same state. Through the site, individuals can also donate or sign up as volunteers to support UNICEF’s clean water and sanitation programs for children. 

What’s the desired impact of the mobile app? Have you seen results? 

We’re thrilled that this year’s campaign has taken off. So far, the mobile experience has been activated 3.5 million times, people have stayed off their phones for over 200 million minutes to provide clean water to children, and more than 14,000 people have signed up as volunteers with us. We’ve been blown away by how much interest and enthusiasm this year’s campaign has generated. Our aim was to meet or exceed last year’s goal of $1 million, and we’re on track to do that. 

The TAP For more information, visit UNICEF online:

*originally posted on The Toolbox

#austin (at Texas State Capitol)

#austin (at Texas State Capitol)

Tagged: #austin

Citizen Engagement: 3 Cities And Their Civic Tech Tools

Though democratic governments are of the people, by the people, and for the people, it often seems that our only input is electing officials who pass laws on our behalf. After all, I don’t know many people who attend town hall meetings these days. But the evolution of technology has given citizens a new way to participate. Governments are using technology to include as many voices from their communities as possible in civic decisions and activities.

Here are three examples. 

Raleigh, NC

Raleigh North Carolina’s open government initiative is a great example of passive citizen engagement. By following an open source strategy, Open Raleigh has made city data available to the public. Citizens then use the data in a myriad of ways, from simply visualizing daily crime in their city, to creating an app that lets users navigate and interactively utilize the city’s greenway system.  

Fort Smith, AR

Using MindMixer, Fort Smith Arkansas has created an online forum for residents to discuss the city’s comprehensive plan, effectively putting the community’s future in the hands of the community itself. Citizens are invited to share their own ideas, vote on ideas submitted by others, and engage with city officials that are “listening” to the conversation on the site. 

Seattle, WA

Being a tech town, it’s no surprise that Seattle is using social media as a citizen engagement tool. The Seattle Police Department (SPD) uses a variety of social media tools to reach the public. In 2012, the department launched a first-of-its kind hyper-local twitter initiative. A police scanner for the twitter generation, Tweets by Beat provides twitter feeds of police dispatches in each of Seattle’s 51 police beats so that residents can find out what is happening right on their block. 

In addition to Twitter and Facebook, SPD created a Tumblr to, in their own words, “show you your police department doing police-y things in your city.” In a nutshell, the department’s Tumblr serves as an extension of their other social media outlets.   

3 Startups Proving That ‘For Good’ & ‘For profit’ Are Not Mutually Exclusive

Several days ago civic tech startup Citizinvestor shared with its followers their company values. What stood out to me was their eighth core value:

For good, for profit

Profit and social impact are not mutually exclusive. We believe the best way to create real change is by creating new value in the marketplace.

There is a misconception that if a company is for profit, it is inherently not “for the people.” — not surprising considering the turbulence we’ve seen on Wall Street over the past several years.  

Thankfully, dozens of civic tech companies, along with organizations like Code for America and the Knight Foundation, are proving otherwise. 

The intersection of ‘for profit’ and ‘for good’

Mark Headd, Philadelphia’s Chief Data Officer and civic innovation thought leader, provides great insight into what a civic startup looks like. He explains in his blog, Civic Innovations, that civic startups have particular qualities that make them attractive to both governments and citizens. Both parties have an interest in seeing these kinds of startups succeed because both will realize benefits when they do. Mark provides an excellent definition:

“Civic startups are those companies that, through the pursuit of their core missions, produce what economists call a positive externality. In other words, there are benefits inherent in the services these companies provide that are not reflected in the cost of that service.”

Here are three examples of startups who embody Headd’s definition. 

Citizinvestor: the Public Sector’s Answer to Kickstarter 

Citizinvestor (whose core values are the basis for this post) is essentially Kickstarter for government. Citizinvestor is a crowdfunding and civic engagement platform for local government projects. Any government entity can post public projects to where citizens can make a tax-deductible donation to the projects they care about most.

ArchiveSocial: Ensuring Social Media Compliance One Tweet at a Time 

ArchiveSocial enables public agencies to engage with citizens via social media, while automatically ensuring compliance with state and federal records laws such as FOIA. It provides a legal safety net, and eliminates the time and effort required to respond to public records requests. Essentially, citizens benefit from increased engagement with their government, and the promise of government transparency (i.e. freedom of information) being fulfilled.

SmartProcure: Changing How Government Does Business 

SmartProcure is an online information service that provides access to local, state, and federal government procurement data. With 60 million government purchase orders in their database and counting, SmartProcure enables government agencies to make more efficient procurement decisions and save taxpayer dollars, while simultaneously enabling businesses to sell more effectively and competitively to government agencies.