smart protests

We know the power of public demonstration. Together we can be loud enough to not only influence those in power, but to take that power away.

The launch of Sukey (a crowd-sourced mobile information tool to help protesters share news as it happens and keep each other safe) has come at an interesting time. Smart phone take up in the UK has been rapid. According to Comscore, Smartphones already make up 32% of phones used by british people over 13. Some indicate this will rise to 75% by 2015. So with tools like Sukey, using their mobiles and smart phones crowds are increasingly able to organise themselves live, to react to fast-moving situations, to continually self co-ordinate.

But inevitably, in countries where there is most danger for demonstrators there is less mass adoption of mobile tech. In Egypt, where the internet has been pivotal in getting people onto the streets, once on the streets demonstrators were more isolated. TNS (thanks Bryan!) shows that the % of people that use their mobile in Egypt for networking and connecting is among the lowest of the countries analysed at 13%, compared to the UK’s 46%. And now the Egyptian government has virtually shut down all internet and mobile services, killing any use of live info sharing tech to co-ordinate action, trying to desperately to get the genie back in the bottle.

I can’t help but wonder though how different these big moments might be in years to come. Will we see more organised, more effective civil demonstrations. Will they become safer for protesters. Will oppressive governments escalate their response and adopt new strategies as protests evolve?  Time will tell, but until then its worth following the developers and users of tools like Sukey over the coming months.

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