Technology Advances U.S. Diplomacy Goals

In this photo taken, Nov. 8, 2011, a woman poses with her Blackberry mobile phone in Johannesburg. The woman says she cherishes her phone as a link to family and friends, and also sees it as a radio, a library, a mini cinema, a bank teller, and more. [AP File Photo]

About the Author: Tara Sonenshine serves as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

When we apply technology at its best to public service at its most critical, we can make powerful differences in the lives and well-being of people.

Advances in communications and information technology are allowing us to do just that, whether we are using crowd-sourcing or Twitter, or reaching people via mobile phones or Skype. We are assisting survivors in the wake of natural disasters. We are monitoring elections to ensure they are free, safe and fair. We are reaching more people in non-permissive environments. Technology has become not only our virtual eyes and ears, but our helping hands, in a variety of ways.

Take Ushahidi (“witness” in Swahili), a crowd-sourcing platform developed by Kenyan citizens in 2008 that uses technology to collect, verify, and map information from citizens on a variety of issues. That can include incidents of violence,… more »

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