Romanians Create Web-Based Solutions to Social Issues
Restart Romania, a partnership between TechSoup Romania and the U.S. Embassy, was launched to inspire web-based solutions to the country's pressing social issues. It lets citizens join the discussion about topics that deeply affect their lives. Restart Romania went public in August 2011, and over the following six weeks, 144 proposals were submitted, 2,000 profiles were created, and 220,000 website hits were recorded. The challenge also generated many news articles and TV interviews.
Ten finalists were selected by a combined jury and public vote. Nine of those ideas were built into beta versions at the Restart Romania E-Marathon on October 28 – 30. More than 60 programmers and designers from some of the world's top advertising agencies and Romania's best IT companies, spearheaded by Microsoft and Cisco, volunteered 1,900 hours to develop the sites.
On November 5, 2011, 200 guests joined U.S. ambassador Mark Gitenstein to select the five winners. They were
- MedAlert — an online system that notifies authorities when corruption in health care is reported.
- Who Promised What — a site that publishes campaign promises and evaluates their cost so citizens can make informed decisions.
- Deforestation Map — a map based on satellite images and citizen mobile reporting that pinpoints illegal deforestation.
- Lost Money — a platform to centralize financial information about publicly funded projects so citizens can see how taxes are being spent and encourage authorities to be more transparent.
- Bribery Market — a map that tracks the price of bribes that citizens pay for various services.
The winners each received $5,000, training, PR, and support from the embassies of the U.S., U.K., Austria, Canada, Germany, and Spain. Moving forward, Restart Romania hopes that discussions about the role of the citizen in Romania — supported by social media and emerging leaders like the participants — become more powerful and an open space for continued engagement.