Doha brewing Smart City activities

Driving into the Qatar Science and Technology Park (QSTP), one is struck with the sweeping architecture reflecting a fast-paced ambition to evolve. There are moments in Doha where you can see the future. Places like QSTP very much demonstrate the active efforts of many to change a city and country. It is only fitting that such a place would host the Smart Cities: Dreams to Reality Tech Talk.

Smart Cities TechTalk panel May252015

(Photo: Dr.Thomas Groegler, Waleed Al Saadi, Mansoor Al-Khater and Abdulaziz Ahmed Al-Khal)

The event opened with Mansoor Al-Khater: Chief Strategy Officer of Ooredoo Qatar (a national telco) asking: How can use the huge amount of data to push economic development? Building on his wide-angle lens vision of Smart Cities, he set that tone outlining the potential of smart city technologies. Examples included using smart city technology to change traffic flows to divert from accidents/volume or notify citizens in case of emergencies. But, he emphasized that Smart cities are not just about the technology. It is a shift in culture and how we interact with our cities.

Mr. Abdulaziz Ahmed Al-Khal, Chief Commercial Officer at Qatar Mobility Innovations Center (QMIC) highlighted some points about why smart cities will matter to the citizens. He asked us how startups can spark from organic ideas to full technical platforms. QMIC is a partner of Qatar Computing Research Institute. In my time at QCRI, I’ve had a chance to meet a number of the staff and review their platforms. There are over 300 sensors on the various streets and roads around Doha. These sensors stream to real-time maps and provide large data insights into traffic flow. This is one of the growing issues as the city population expands faster than the infrastructure build. While QMIC is seeking to build businesses and foster data-driven startups, QCRI is along on this journey to use our data analytics brainpower and ponder how social computing (how humans interact and provide data via social media.).

Doha is a mix of old city and new city, but Qatar is building Lusail from scratch as a Smart City. This is really a long tail plan. You can read about it on the Lusail website. Having driven by this city, I really am more curious now the city in the making will evolve. Engineer Waleed Al Saadi invited people to explore the Lusail progress. I’ll add it to the list right after visiting the Msherieb enrichment centre. This part of Doha is set to be the most wired and sustainable area.

Lastly Dr. Thomas Groegler, Head of the Innovation Center of Siemens, reminded us that with all this technology and dreaming, we need to deeply consider and address how the smart city work will increase the digital divide, improve or decrease accessibility and, most importantly, effect all parts of physical and digital security. Points taken. Truly, it is with these realities that we must be mindful of our decisions and engage citizens.

How does this relate to our work at QCRI?

At QCRI Social Computing, we have two research and development streams that directly intersect with smart city activities: Social Media in Disaster and Resilient Cities. It is exciting to consider how our work can support and measure the national goals. As a digital humanitarian, I see how a network of Digital Qatar could support this emergency chart. While the formal organizations will use sensors and SMS, there is still a need to consider how social media in Qatar would be used during an emergency. This is about preparedness and an engaged citizenery.
Ooredoo on Smart City Emergency Response

Doha has a way to go to improve as we journey down the Smart City Path. Listed as #41 on the Sustainable City Index, there are standards and programmes to build to engage citizens in what they need from their city as well to foster the brightest entrepreneurs to use data to grow businesses to support the needs of various communities. Smart City Doha needs to keep building a civic tech community. There are pockets of amazing social entrepreneurship and technology groups. These just need to be activated more.


Advanced Research and Technology from WGET: ICT Humanitarian Innovation Forum

What are some of the research opportunities in Humanitarian Innovation? What are some of the “bright spots” to advance technology (new or existing)? The Working Group for Emergency Telecommunications (WGET) – ICT Humanitarian Innovation Forum was held in Dubai on April 29 – 30, 2015. While I curated the session, I was unable to attend at the last minute. Colleagues Larissa Fast and Rakesh Bharania kindly lead the interactive workshop about Communicating with Affected Communities. The WGET audience is a mix of technology companies, humanitarians, researchers and governmental (INGO, NGO, national and international) experts. This unique forum provided a chance to really drive conversations across disciplines.

WGET Session Description

Disaster-affected communities are increasingly the source of the “Big Data” that gets generated during disasters. Making sense of this flash flood of information is proving an impossible challenge for traditional humanitarian organizations. What are the next generation needs for actionable research and software in the fields of Social Data, Predictives and New Technology for Humanitarian response, especially focused on communicating with communities? This session will highlight the lessons learned from the Field while engaging participants in small group feedback sessions. Participants will be asked to discuss key topics such as research needs, opportunities and barriers. Suggestions will be documented and serve as an output from the workshop.


UN OCHA created this Storify: Unveiling Digital Aid at the 2015 WGET
Find the WGETForum on Twitter
See the WGET website

WGET  Session

What are some of the opportunities, barriers and research needs to advance technology use for Humanitarian response?

Many of these answers are fairly common for any project: development and humanitarian. I am struck by the missing ‘step ladder’ to solutions. With the World Humanitarian Summit coming, will there be some technical meetings to brainstorm on ‘what does success look like’? Some of the work at Qatar Computing Research Institute, School of Data, Responsible Data Forum, Brck and various social entrepreneurs are tackling these issues. Are these tools and techniques reaching the right people?

I’ve taken the liberty to highlight the key points. The session format provided ‘headline’ topics. While these lists are missing some of the conversational context, it is our hope that it gives you a window into some of the knowledge shared. The next steps are truly up to all of us.

Some of the barriers cited for advancing use of technology include:
  • How they can operate best where countries declare an emergency. When a country says it does not have an emergency, it prevents from responding.
  • Lack of clear problem statement—lack of social data but we don’t know how more of it would solve a problem.
  • Predictive models need to be adaptive to be effective, which increases complexity
  • Funding, Costs
  • Restrictive government policies
  • Regulation/policy
  • No coordination of efforts
  • Trust (between organizations and people to organizations)
  • Decision-making triggers/timelines
  • Variety of platforms – trusted?
  • Connectivity
  • Disrupted networks in disasters, lack of real-time data
  • Energy infrastructure, energy resources, energy/electricity competencies
  • Duplication of efforts
  • Veracity of information
  • Risk of information to the organization
  • Reliability of data
  • Data protection,Data expiration
  • Do we want to use social data? What’s the point?
  • High noise-to-signal ratio
  • No one person(s) who across all organizations is collecting data and knowledge of all going on
  • Knowing information gaps and what is being collected and not
Opportunities in research and advancing technology:
  • Everyone is trying to solve this problem… need a forum where we can share
  • Financing mechanisms based on predictive data/forecast
  • Social media; good platform if we are able to use it properly.
  • Provide insight into an issue
  • Create awareness
  • Feedback mechanisms to better adapt humanitarian response to needs
  • Integration of public social media awareness for self-filtering (?) into preparedness campaigns
  • Move towards demand-driven assistance, especially in acute phase of relief
  • How can we evaluate effectiveness of our interventions.
  • Enhance decision-making
  • Mechanism/triggers for decisions
  • Common tools, analysis to collect intelligence from a variety of platforms
  • Base applications on HXL so that they can be aggregated (?), exchanged, consolidated
  • Share initiatives – communicate to all others so no duplication and extra effort
  • Crisis signal – see areas with coverage of phones etc. Provides useful info
  • To use the new social related applications which we are well known to send live videos of cases that required immediate action (e.g., Snapchat)
  • Using the UAVs to send live videos to people in charge of the humanitarian response
  • Pooling/sharing resources, risk, skills/analysis
  • Provide through experiments
  • Narrative to show need/value, lives saved/lost (feedback (positive/negative)
  • Provision better programmes by reacting to real time data
  • Evaluating effectiveness of our interventions real time
Some Brainstormed ideas:
  • Research: study on impact of tech on community resilience (net effect)
  • Create a humanitarian open-source community to develop tools based on social data
  • Accountability of quality
  • Insecurity of shared information
  • Escalation of information
  • Adaptive, real-time predictive models
  • Integrated social media filters for preparedness programs
  • ICT tech: problem statement, expertise in house (analysis, security), + tools
  • Data transfer agreement
  • Clearing and monitoring mechanisms for social data to make it trustworthy
  • Keep in mind the ethical considerations of ICT use in humanitarian
  • To allow models/analysis and define the way data can be used across agencies or specifically across the cluster


Thanks to UN OCHA (Patrick and Amanda) for supporting this session, Larissa and Rakesh for hosting in my stead, and Olly Parsons of GSMA for some great notes. And, thanks to all the participants for driving the conversations.


Using your Voice to Amplify your Career

Mentoring is one of the most rewarding experiences in my career. Over the years, I have learned from mentors many skills on how to build my network, develop my skills, speak publicly and find my voice. Today I had the opportunity to share my experiences with the Qatar Computing Research Institute‘s Summer Interns. I am very thankful to my teachers and mentors for guiding me. Certainly as a mentee and mentor, I consider it a goal to be a lifelong learner. Do you have tips and ideas about amplifying your career? I’d love to learn from you.

Here are the slides with notes, articles, tools and techniques that might help you:


Convening Innovation Allies

How can we use advanced computing, human computing and social innovation to have impact in Qatar? Healthy lives, taking care of the environmental, youth engagement, resilient cities, social entrepreneurship and humanitarian response are some of the core Social Computing research activities at Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI)?

On Wednesday, April 15, 2015, QCRI hosted a small forum to discuss social innovation in Qatar. The session consisted of speakers from QCRI and partners as well as some informal discussion groups. Thank you for our guests and participants for this informative conversation.

The Qatar Red Crescent Disaster Management Camp was held in Doha, Qatar from March 31 – April 9, 2015. These are some early observations that I had on the use of technology and the opportunities for future research and collaboration:

We plan on expanding this dialogue in the future. Until then, your insights will inform both our strategic planning, research agenda and future activity collaborations.

Social Innovation Workshop Discussion groups 2015

QCRI’s Social Innovation Programme in Qatar is focused on foru streams of research and activities:
  • Smart and Resilient Cities
  • Remote Sensing for Social Good
  • Digital Humanitarians
  • Social Media for Disaster

In the Resilient city discussion group we saw some opportunities with ICTQatar leading open data initiatives, QMIC working with traffic sensor data and the potential of sports data to provide insights into society. Collectively we agreed that we need to know more about resilience city and society ecosystems in Qatar. Some of the barriers included lack of policy and regulation in Qatar, community services need access to the data and
cellular data is hard to share.

The Remote Sensing group spent time thinking about blue sky uses for these tools and techniques. Some of the concepts tie directly into the Resilient City Group with opportunities to use phone traffic sensors, computer vision and drones and uavs for parking. Some of the potential imagery sources include landsat imagery, Planet Labs and Skybox (Google).

The Social Media for Disaster and Digital Humanitarian teams joined forces to delve into opportunities, barriers and new research items. Opportunities included a very diverse community (languages, cultures), engaged youth, access to technology/mobile devices and the sense of belonging in a geographically small but strategic area. The barriers include lack of civil society, language barriers, education levels and the fluidity of communities. Also, there is a need to reframe the concept of volunteering into opportunities for educational and society advancement. Research opportunities included understanding the needs/motivations of people, peer-to-peer transfer of knowledge, community development in Qatar and understanding social responsibility programs in Qatar.

Thanks again to the speakers, guests and my colleagues for a great morning.


Computers that Think and our Role

What is our role as software developers, research scientists or startup leaders? The very computer software and hardware that we create are changing lives. It is truly inspiring to learn of this advanced computing science of teaching computers. But, what is our role in this? What is the impact of our work on the lives of others? Prasenjit Mitra asked us these very questions during his TedxEducationCity (Doha) talk this past Saturday. Dr. Mitra is a Principal Scientist, Data Analytics at Qatar Computing Research Institute.

 Prasenjit Mitra @ TEDxEducationCity

As innovators, it is important to consider these factors. Often I write about the positive work and changes that these software innovations deliver. But, this comes with responsibility to create wisely and take care of our neighbours. To that end, last year I hosted a workshop on Data Ethics at Stanford University. As an data advocate and someone who works with human computing/machine language processing, I continue to be contemplate the digital cowboy behaviour which may have negative connotations on the very people we may be intended to support and/or research. As a new staff member at QCRI, it matters that my colleagues really consider our role and try to create within a socially and ethically responsible framework. There is no TedX video yet, so take my word that he was an engaging presenter in a conversation way. Please do review the slides with this in mind. Congratulations, Dr. Mitra.

Mindless: How Smart Computers are making Dumber Humans

I literally just finished reading the book, Mindless; How Smart Computers are making Dumber Humans, before attending TedxEducationCity. It provides a wide angle lens into management software (metrics over human conversations) and computational decision-making in various industries. While it is focused on primarily the US economy, the final chapter about China was frightening. While I am a strong advocate of computers and technology for social good, I think that we need to have more conversations about the impact and consequences.

About the book:
“In Mindless, Simon Head argues that these systems have come to trump human expertise, dictating the goals and strategies of a wide array of businesses, and de-skilling the jobs of middle class workers in the process. CBSs are especially dysfunctional, Head argues, when they apply their disembodied expertise to transactions between humans, as in health care, education, customer relations, and human resources management.”

Happy reading!


You Verify, All the time

We are all human magnifying glasses and zoom features. Every day our task as humans is to discern, detect and distill. In Doha, this means things like self-protection: “Is it safe to cross this street and will the cars stop?” I’ve been super adept at the squint and run carefully looking for fast moving SVUs that appear out of nowhere. Online we are even more critical observers. We’ve been subject to hoaxes, photoshop fantasies and curious statements that are too good to be true.

magnifying glass

Over at Jump2Spot, my colleague, Chung Wong is a member of the Manhattan before 1990 GeoSleuthing Facebook community. I’ve been monitoring their work for a few months and am in awe of their digital detective work in a crowdsourced community effort. They inspire me about the future of online verification. Geosleuthers are the future of online verification. While there is a bit of a hierarchy from journalism to digital humanitarians, what binds us all is our curiousity and our drive to find accuracy.

How can we know if an image or a comment is true and verified? During times of crisis and emergency, this massive volume of True and Untrue unfolds at a fast pace. Humanitarians, NGOs and citizens want to know asap what is verified and actionable in order to make critical decisions. Veri.lyconnects you via global crowdsourcing challenges for evidence collection and verification. Our goal is to build this open source software and community to unravel these puzzles in real time.


In this 30 minute conversation, I interview the team with our special guest, Craig Silverman, a co-author of the Verification Handbook.

Thanks to our guests, participants and team for this great conversation. There were some questions as well.

1. Could be used in conflict prevention?
Answer: As with any software, it is about the programme around the tool. The key would be to apply the tool while safeguarding the privacy and security of individuals? We would be happy to continue this discussion. Join our mailing list to ask other Digital Detectives.

2. Where lies the automation in the process? Can we see the platform live? How are users onboarded? can be found on our website. See our Digital Detective Verification guides and involved in building the programme and tools.

Next Steps

In the coming weeks, we will be planning more online conversations, share our development and programme plans. Stay tuned!

****** is a collaboration between University of Southampton (Agents, Interaction and Complexity Research Group), Qatar Computing Research Institute (Social Computing), and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (Social Computing and Artificial Intelligence Lab). Server space is provided by the generous support from ORCHID Project.

(Icon credit: Alexandria Eddings, Noun Project CCBY)


Infusing Ethics into Data Projects

Education, assistance and enforcement are needed to build better, ethically balanced data-driven projects. The Ethics of Data workshop on the Data lifecycle discussed ethical scenarios and key aspects of a data-driven project. This lead to many sticky notes and attempts to create the big asks and some outputs. The participants came from many different disciplines, which helped us quality check and inform our review.

Our group together created 3 asks for further review:

  • Resources: This should be a center online for people and NGOs to share and find guides on building ethical data driven projects.
  • Tool/Template: There should be a data risk/benefits/costs template as part of every grant application to build better ethical projects from front to back.
  • Review: Could there be a non-profit assistance group that provides free, consultation on ethical questions? How would they enforce standards? Could it be like a review board for research projects?
  • Milestones for an Ethical Data Project:

    We created over 100 ideas and grouped them into categories as milestones. There should be checklists for each milestone including key questions for the team. While the EoD team started on the mini-ethical checklists, this really needs more iteration. We also highlighted some milestones that are often overlooked or underfunded such as: a data collection checklist, pilot, quality control, verification, documentation, secondary use and impact/monitoring & evaluation. One other observation in our conversations was proper project management skills to scope many of the ethical minefields in advance of the project pilot.

    Key milestones on the Data Drive project

    Without trying to influence the room, the key project milestones resemble the toolkits we created at Ushahidi. Toolkits, including the Ushahidi one, do need to include more ethical statements/checklists to improve the success of building better projects. But, toolkits are only as useful as those who use and enforce them.

    Infuse with Ethical Checklists

    We gifted the Responsible Data Forum with a list of 70 questions, terms and ideas for the key milestones. If all the various milestones of a data-driven project are infused with ethical questions, checklists, and recommendations, this resource would be incredibly useful. Participants suggested that the checklists start with very generic items, but be broken out into topical domain recommendations/checklist items. This is to ensure adoption and remix in diverse fields from human rights to health to science. Some of the questions that really drove conversations included:
    Data analysis: What do you do when your data analysis provides negative results (from your hypothesis)? Quality Control: Can the data be re-identified? Resourcing: Who can collect the data and why? Secondary data: What is the time horizon on the data and future use criteria?

    Key Questions from the Ethical Checklist

    Ethics of Data – Resource Center / Review Board:

    One of the outputs of our first day of brainstorming was the need to have an Ethical Resource and Review Board. The team split off to debate the pros and cons of this idea. They even determined some of the needed services such as legal referral.
    Ethics of Data Review board

    More resources:

    The EofD team recreated a list of additional Ethics reading. It might keep you up all night with worry, but better to be ‘in the know’.

    As well, here is a compilation on Domain-­specific digital ethics, practices, and conventions. The one that really opened my mind was the Bellagio Framework: “Big Data, Communities and Ethical Resilience: A Framework for Action.” They provided criteria to consider: Governance, Place, Socio-Cultural Context, Science, and Technology.

    Thank you

    Thanks to our hosts at Stanford Center for Philanthropy and Civil Society (Kim Meredith, Lucy Bernholz, Rob Reich and Sam Spiewak) for making the Ethics of Data event possible. Thanks to my co-host Patrick Vinck of Harvard Humanitarian Initiative for great conversations. As always, Aspiration (Gunner and Misty) supported us with facilitation that inspired a collaborative and productive event for all. And, lastly, thank you to all the participants for being so thoughtful and inspiring teachers as we all trundle down this journey to bring better decision-making to all of our work.

    (Note: It is my hope that we can infuse HOT with some of this work and trial some ideas in our work. I’ll be sharing it with my fellow Board members and the HOT Community.)


Ok go! What are you doing at OKfest14?

Ok go! This week 1000 people converge in Berlin for Okfestival with many more participating and observing online. We are here to instigate open action and open minds.

The Open Knowledge Festival 2014 will be our biggest open data and open knowledge event to date. It will be global, inclusive and participatory. We expect it to create a significant local and international surge of innovation.

Throughout the festival, I will be leading the Community storytelling team. I’ll mostly be using twitter and storify to curate stories. Also, expect pictures and maybe some videos with attendees. During this event, I am also running or assisting on a large number of sessions and side events, plus attending some key sessions.

okfest logo

Here’s my schedule for the following week. See some of you soon! And, for friends who aren’t here, see you online (all items are at the OKFEST venue unless stated otherwise):

Sunday, July 13th (completed)

Watch Germany win world cup, walk to celebration at Brandenburg Gate (checkmark)

Monday, July 14th (completed)

Hold informal #geobeers with mapper and activist friends in Berlin at Strandbar (so amazing, done-so)

OKfest Opening Day: Tuesday, July 15th
Open Knowledge Community Summit (13:00 – 16:00 CET)

stickies are love

This is a community-driven event to talk about the Open Knowledge community. See all the details. I’ll be hosting a sub-group to talk about the last 5 months of community programming and get input into the next steps.

Storytelling team meeting (17:00 CET)

Sharing stories, ideas and moments is such a big part of community events. I’ve had much practice curating and encouraging stories at large events. Join our Storytelling team and meet other digital curators. Look for folks with blue ribbons or tweet us at #okstory with blog links, videos, photos, headlines and key themes.

How to join: Review our Storytelling wiki page, add your name to our etherpad, tweet @heatherleson or with #okstory to meet team members. Our first meeting is at 5pm in the Media Hub room at the Okfest venue. We will have other informal meetings to be announced throughout the event. Stay tuned.

School of Data Table at the open night (18:00 – 21:00 CET)

Come meet the School of Data existing and new fellows, local partners and team. Ask questions, get involved.

Community Drinks (21:30 – on)

The Community team is hosting an informal drinks night. Join us for chats and connecting.
Location: Prater Garten

Bike by

OkFest First day: Wednesday, July 16th

Storytelling Team meeting like at 8:30am at venue. TBD, see #okstory.

I’ll be attending all the morning sessions. Truly, super excited for Ory to talk plus graffiti activists!!

Open Coalition (12:00 – 13:00)

Help us build an Open Coalition across various open organizations and individuals. We have common missions and are stronger together.

Power, Politics, Inclusion and voice

“Data, information, knowledge is created in a political environment where power dynamics dictate who is/is not included in the creation process. Unless we consider who is involved in knowledge construction we run the risk of simply entrenching existing power structures. If open data is dominated by data produced in the Global North what chance do we have in redressing the balance of power for an equitable world? “

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team Workshop (16:30 -17:30 CET)

Humanitarian OpenStreetMap team will share stories and do a demo with hands on support. Super excited to support Katie and other Hotties on this.

Open Mapping Party

Join the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team, CartoDB, Development Seed, Zeit Online and Mapbox to talk open mapping strategies and tools over drinks. Heather Leson, Ian Schuler, Javier de la Torre, Alex Barth and Paul Blickle are in town and ready to connect over humanitarian response, data visualizations, OpenStreetMap and satellite imagery. We are inviting map nerds, enthusiasts and friends to join us for a mapper night. Sign up here.

survey tape for teams

Okfest Second day: Thursday, July 17th
Storytelling team – meeting tbd

Day 3 of Community Storytelling. Stay tuned for more highlights and a meeting (12:00 – 13:00) is a new open tool from the amazing Ushahidi folks. The team will share a demo and answer questions. I’m expecting many civil society and journalists to join in the conversations. Session details.

Low Tech Data : Storytelling and Storyfinding (14:00 – 15:00)

Rahul and Gabi will be a fantastic hosts for this session at the heart of every impact for civil society and activists. See more details:

Looking for creative ways to find and present data stories in low-tech settings? We will share our hands-on, participatory techniques for bringing people together around data to find and tell powerful stories without computers. You’ll walk away with skills and ideas to help the communities you work with!

Working with data can empower or disempower. Algorithms, technical language, unfamiliar processes – these all leave many communities incapable of working with data, or understanding data-driven discussions. Most folks don’t “speak data”.

How to Teach Open Data (15:30 – 16:30)

Join the School of Data and friends to learn best practices in teaching open data. (full details) We’ll have a world cafe to share

  • How to organise tech and data workshops
  • Building effective curriculum and accreditation
  • Type of education activities: a blended offline, online
  • Designing passion driven communities (I’ll be with Bekka from P2PU)
If I had more time or a time machine, I would attend these amazing sessions too!

School of Data

School of Data Summer Camp (Potsdam) (invite only): Friday, July 18, 2014 – Monday July 21, 2014

School of Data is the division that I work in at Open Knowledge. This summer camp includes fellows, partners and local instances of School of Data. We will talk about strategies, share skills and develop plans for the upcoming year. I am specifically sharing community programming and community engagement best practices:

July 22nd, 2014

FALL OVER, Report back, sleep!!!


Batman, Foodies, Fashion + CrisisMaps at Next Day Better

Building a common good unites us. This Thursday I’m participating in Next Day Better in Toronto. This is such a special event combining fun, food, art and technology to inspire people to make the Next Day Better. I’ll share the story of Crisismappers highlighting the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team response in the Philippines.

How will I make the Next Day Better?

I help people get more involved in their world. One example is supporting an open community-driven digital humanitarian response.

“We are a culture platform that builds and activates diaspora communities to create a better future. We believe that diasporas like the Philippines global community are hubs and inspirations for social innovation, incredible design, and world changing ideas. We bring these doers and change makers together to share their stories and make the next day better.”


Tickets are only $20.00 with amazing talks and food! Please join us.

Help Share about Next Day Better

Facebook updates:

We’re partnering with social innovation group @NextDayBetter to celebrate their launch in Toronto on June 19. It will be a night of inspired talks from changemakers – the #Philippines is ready for open-source mapping! If you’re in Toronto, RSVP here.

Amazing things are happening June 19 – board member/idea hacker Heather Leson will be @NextDayBetter’s launch in Toronto as they bring big-idea thinkers, amazing work doers and changemakers together. Get your tickets here.


We’re partnering w/ @NextDayBetter for their launch in #Toronto 6/19! Learn more:

The #Philippines is ready. Join us @NextDayBetter Toronto launch | 6/19 7pm | RSVP

About NextDayBetter

NextDayBetter is a platform that spreads ideas and actions that make the next day better. Ideas and actions are Philippines-flavored and rooted in design, entrepreneurship and innovation.

We invite innovators entrepreneurs, designers, do gooders — both Filipino and Non-Filipino—to share their stories about creating a better future.

Visit for more information.

I found out about the Next Day Better group after engaging with folks around Hacking PH: focused on rebuilding a resilient Philippines. They really inspired me with their approach to building community locally and globally.

How will you make the Next Day Better?


Mesh in the Open

Mesh is Canada’s premier digital conference about what is next in business, media, marketing and society. The diverse participants always inspire. This year was no exception from Neil Harbisson’s cyborg activist to Mark Little on telling stories better with Storyful my brain is still spinning from the eclectic conversations.

This year I had the honour of running a workshop with Gabe Sawhney about Open Data, Civic Tech and Hacking for Good. We made our session fairly interactive with some slides to frame questions and then 5 breakout groups to talk about everything from technology in the upcoming Toronto elections or building a civic hack lab in the city. Each group had 30 minutes to talk amongst themselves and then provide report-backs. Thanks to the MESH team for inviting us to hack the conference process and bring our civic engagement spin to the event.

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