Social Media Civic Engagement

Michael Best
Paul Lazarus, Amanda Meng, Tulika Saraf, Thomas Smyth, Alex Stelea

We are developing technological platforms, human and social processes, and the underlying creative abilities to leverage social media and digital networks to enhance democracies especially in Africa. Our current work has focused on participation in and monitoring of elections while future work will expand that frame seeking to foster broader and deeper civic engagement, especially among youth, the promotion of government accountability and efficacy, and the constructive creative ability to hack democracy. The Social Media Tracking Center (SMTC) encompasses a process to monitor and respond in real-time to reports from systems such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Ushahidi. The technological platform facilitating the SMTC is Aggie, our social media tracking software, which allows the aggregation and integration of social media data streams along with real-time trend analysis and visualizations.

Michael L. Best

The lab's research focuses on information and communication technologies for social, economic, and political development. In particular the lab studies mobile phones, the internet, and internet-enabled services and their design, impact, and importance within low-income countries of Africa and Asia. The lab researches engineering, public policy, hci/usability, and sustainability issues as well as methods to assess and evaluate social, economic, and political development outcomes. They are also interested in the impact of information and communication technologies on the development-security nexus and in post-conflict peace and reconciliation.