Internews Center for Innovation & Learning

Internews Center for Innovation & Learning
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Grassroots in Russia and GovServices

Russia has always been a leader in the region in many things. One of them is crime and unprotected citizens - seriously, after turbulent 90th many things have changed, but the governance still remains imperfect. While there are a lot of apps and websites aimed at making city life better, there's a new wave of civic monitoring tools that are focused on monitoring and increasing the quality of services provided by authorities. There are several famous ones, so let's get into details and find out if they really work in post-soviet country. 

"Public discussion of the bills" - is an initiative of the Russian Trade Union of the audit, evaluation, expert and consulting organizations. This is a platform for interactive discussion of important bills, taken to the State Duma of Federal Assembly of Russian Federation. Website unites independent experts, journalists and internet users who are interested in new regulations. Website identifies a person and lets him vote for the bill and comment. It's a unique source of information for journalists that are following certain industry or political party. 

Just opposite to this grassroots initiative there's a project of authorities that is based on the decree of the President of Russian Federation "On public discussion of draft federal consitutional laws and federal laws". It's called "Draft of the Law". The project aims at creating the open platform for discussion and analysis, and motivate the level of activity and education among citizens. There are three key-buttons that appear in front of each drafted law - Accept, Rework, Decline. The core of the project lays in its author - the government. 

Now when people are educated and know how, they need to answer another question - "Where? Who to?". This is a new project that helps citizens to create request, claim or petition, and send it to the corresponding representative of authorities. When the claim is ready it's possible to send it online or printed. The website has auto-fill forms, huge database of gov institutions, info services. It's possible to claim violations at elections, among police or street patrol. It's a great piece of software and knowledge database. Even considering the fact that website is created by authorities it's not taking the responsibility to satisfy any given claim.

Now what happens when you have a problem and don't know who to turn to and how. "RosJustice" is a database for judges, lawyers and law professionals that may be helpful to a user. Also there's a massive catalog of cases that were taken to courts. They are structured, some are visualized.

All these services no matter if they are user-generated or initilized by authorities, all of them are very useful and add real value to problem solving. There are a lot of successes in using each service. Statistics shows that approximately 15% of people report success or thanks for the service notice. 

The last one but not the least is Benefit.Info - the website that uses crowdsourcing of information from different parts of Russia to inform citizens entitled to benefits how they can actually get them. The website works as a mechanism of search for benefits available by answering questions. Website was launched with the database of 100 benefits. Now it's rapidly growing, but still the project couldn't find enough funding for ads and online promo.