Mycitizen.net

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Mycitizen.net

Prague, Czech RepublicMyanmar
Year Founded:
2012
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Mycitizen.net is a free open source platform for local communities to support citizen engagement. It is particularly designed for places where Internet connectivity is slow and it supports localization to uncommon languages. The system consists of a web interface and a mobile application.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if people could host their own online community where Internet is hardly available?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

People in Burma (Myanmar) and other countries in transition often cannot participate in democracy because they lack the information, the infrastructure and the language skills. They can access Web content only via slow mobile networks. Existing social networking platforms focus on entertainment and distraction and don't facilitate search by topics or geographic location, or they offer only insufficient ways how users can control their own data.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

This social media platform takes a dual approach: It can be accessed on the web and through a mobile app. Localization is made possible for any of Burma's 130 ethnic languages, and is open to others as well. The user interface is free from unnecessary extras that would confuse people with little IT experience. Users can find online interest groups and resources by certain topics, by language and by geographic proximity. The whole package is available as free open source software and will facilitate installation on an own server - e.g. in a school or a village - to function as intranet where the Internet is unavailable.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

In Burma (Myanmar) and other countries in transition, increasing freedoms encourage citizens to become active in order to promote change. We see, for example, many new shelters for people infected with HIV. The mere existence of that disease has been downplayed for decades by the previous military junta, and even now patients and family members are stigmatized and find it hard to learn where they can get help, or if anyone in their town shares their problems and has possibly already found a solution. Useful information is theoretically available online, but relevant solutions disappear in the floods of communication and entertainment. These issues are a huge obstacle to development particularly in rural areas.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

The project is currently in beta stage. It has been introduced to Burmese refugee communities in Delhi and to activists in Kalay, Chin State and Yangon in Burma (Myanmar) to a total number of over 100 participants. The full launch is planned when the mobile app is ready for use.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

During 2014 the project can cover a part of the expenses from existing support. Apart from offering the platform for free for download, we will then offer hosted deployments for a monthly fee. This is a common business model for non-profit open source software.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Not aware of any that would offer self-hosting, the combination of web and mobile app, the easy localization to any language and similar capabilities to search for topics and location.
Team

Founding Story

The key moment was in 2008 when a constitutional referendum was held in Myanmar. The vast majority of voters had never seen the draft constitution and this impressively demonstrated that even a free election could not possibly make any sense if people don't have access to relevant information. At the same time when the country opened up in 2010 and foreign players praised the changes on the political level, our clients - mostly members of ethnic minorities - continued saying that the situation on the ground remained almost unaffected. The only visible impact, driven by economic interests and people's desire to end their isolation, was the spreading of smartphones. The idea was born to utilize this development to counter the deficits.