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Filed under: Development 2.0 Governance

Citizens in Montenegro are now equipped with a new mobile app “Be Responsible,” to help them transform them into vigilant reporters, scanning the country for illegal waste dumps, misuse of official vehicles, irregular parking, roadblocks, and failure to comply with tax regulations.

The app was developed by several teachers, current and former students of the University of Montenegro’s Faculty of Electrical Engineering who teamed up to take part in Open Ideas for Montenegro (in Montenegrin), a social innovation project designed out of sheer belief in the transformative power of technology.

This May marked the finale of months-long efforts to empower citizens.

The experience of our colleagues’ work in Armenia and Ukraine and inspired us to engage citizens directly, going beyond the usual suspects and reaching those who tend to be left out of public consultations.

What bugs you Montenegro?

In spite of the ruthless 2012 winter, our NGO partners Center for Civic Education, 35mm and MogUL were out in the field, talking to citizens in Montenegro about the problems that bug them when interacting with the public administration, accessing health and education, or applying for jobs.

After 18 open meetings and a rather fervent social media campaign, we realized that not only are citizens best placed to identify problems in their communities, they are also capable of addressing them.

We found ourselves a treasure trove – a growing network of developers, designers and open-minded activists who stand ready to apply their tech savvy for social good.

During our final session of Open Ideas for Montenegro, 30 competitors split into eight teams and went all out to impress the panel of judges with their Government 2.0 and Citizen 2.0 apps:

  • An app to report communal problems
  • An app which allows prompt feedback by the municipal authorities
  • An app which connects volunteers and donors around humanitarian causes or activism

In the end, “Be Responsible” took first prize, in part because the team managed to partner with the Public Relations Bureau of the Government of Montenegro on responding to citizen reports about the misuse of official vehicles.

The Municipality of Tivat is willing to support the development of one of the apps, and we also managed to engage the Ministry for Information Society and Telecommunications.

The partners list will surely grow, making our participatory project sustainable.

Even though the curtains are down, the show is just starting. Together with the folks at NGO DigitalizujMe, we will be supporting the team to promote the winning app’s adoption by the citizens of Montenegro. The prize money will assist them to further develop the app, in line with users’ comments.

Dare if you will to download the app and be magically transformed into a citizen-reporter. And shoot us an email if you’d like to contribute.

  • Viveik Saigal

    Hi.. has this app been developed ? It sounds like a great idea and I am looking for something in this space. Thank you

  • Jayne Cravens

    Now a year on: are people still using the app? Has its success been measured? Has the app been modified since it was launched and, if so, how? Is the government responding to these citizen reports of illegal waste dumps, misuse of official vehicles, irregular parking, roadblocks, etc.? What have been the challenges of this project over the last year and how have they been addressed?

    • Marija Novkovic

      Hello Jayne!

      Thanks you very much for your questions. It just so happens that the app was a blazing success – it really hit the spot. Shortly after the competition ended, the app amassed more than 1000 active users, and so it became obvious that it could serve as a tool for reporting grey economy. We turned this into a full-fledged project, implemented in partnership with the Government of Montenegro. The project gained extensive international recognition. Key info is summarised in this blog http://www.un.org.me/news/1015/127/WORKING-WITH-YOU-HOW-MONTENEGRO-IS-OPENING-UP-TO-NEW-IDEAS

      Here is a neat little video too! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EpeZZ45kQa4

      Cheers,
      Marija

      • Jayne Cravens

        Excellent! Thanks for the followup!