Mr. Price will discuss finding from the recent publication Citizen Participation and Technology: An NDI Study, which was initiated in the wake of the recent, rapid rise in the use of digital technology among citizens and civil society organizations offers the possibility of strengthening citizens’ voice in politics, carving out new political space for activism and promoting more government accountability. It is clear that these technologies are increasingly complementing citizens’ political participation, changing interrelationships between citizens, organizations, and public institutions, and expanding notions of political behavior and participation. NDI understands how to identify and support the types of citizen participation that contribute to democratization, but the exact role and results of technology use in this process are less clear. The rising use of technology to increase citizens’ access to information and provide avenues of communication to public officials in hopes that this will transform how politics is practiced seems driven by apparently underlying, yet largely untested, assumptions about technology’s ability to increase the quantity, quality, and democratizing influence of citizen participation. Despite the exuberance for new technologies, there is not enough data available on the impacts they have had on the political processes and institutions they are intended to influence in emerging democracies. This creates additional challenges in designing and implementing programs.
Koebel Price is NDI’s Senior Advisor for Citizen Participation. He has 20 years’ experience in leading programs that promote transparency and accountability in government, citizen participation and civil society development, political party strengthening and free and fair elections. Mr. Price has worked in over 30 countries, served as chief of party for U.S. government-funded programs in the Balkans, the Middle East, and North Africa and managed the democracy and governance portfolios of international development organizations. Domestically, he has served as a Political and Legislative Director with the Minnesota AFL-CIO, part of America’s largest trade union confederation. Prior to that, he was trained in community organizing at the Midwest Academy and led grassroots advocacy campaigns for issue – based civil society organizations. In his current role, he supports NDI’s civil society strengthening efforts globally, providing strategies, tools, techniques and training to NDI’s staff members and partner organizations to support and strengthen citizen organizing and political activism in new and emerging democracies. Mr. Price authored the recent publication Citizen Participation and Technology: An NDI Study, which examines the role technologies are playing in democratization programs