Use of mobile phones to detect and deter corruption

Filed under - Access to information

Published on 12 April 2011 as a U4 Helpdesk answer
What are the main ways in which mobile phone and camera/satellite technology are being used to detect and deter corruption? What are the critical design factors for success, and what are the limitations of such tools?

Purpose

I give advice to country offices on anti-corruption and this question is coming up with increasing frequency.

Content

1. Benefits and challenges of using Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) for anti-corruption
2. Examples of using ICTs to detect and deter corruption
3. Lessons learnt for designing ICT-based anti-corruption interventions
4. References

Caveat

The Helpdesk has found very little evidence of the use of satellite imaging and cameras for anti-corruption purposes. This answer therefore focuses more extensively on the use of mobile technologies for anti-corruption interventions.

Summary

New technologies offer remarkable opportunities for promoting good governance, increasing accountability, and addressing corruption. As they reach citizens through direct and interactive channels of communication, they allow rapid data collection, access to information, and offer innovative avenues for social mobilisation and participation.

There are a growing number of examples where new technologies have been used for anti-corruption work. Experience indicates that these technologies can be used as social accountability tools, empowering local communities to engage with political and decision making processes, as well as promoting voice mechanisms to hold local leaders accountable. They have also been used to facilitate the reporting of corruption, allow the monitoring of projects, budgets, elections, financial transactions and public service delivery, as well as promote transparency in operations by providing information to service users.

In spite of their potential, new technologies have not yet realised their full potential in the anti-corruption arena. Success in this regard depends on the local political, infrastructural, social and economic context. There are also challenges of an operational nature - such as access, anonymity and costs - that need to be taken into account when designing successful interventions.

Author(s): Marie Chêne, Transparency International, [email protected]
Reviewed by: Robin Hodess, Ph.D., Transparency International, [email protected]
Publication date: 12 April 2011
Number: 280

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Country / Territory - International   
Region - Global   
Language(s) - English   
Topic - Access to information   

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