Can IT change Odessa?

September 13, 2014

Last month Odessa Regional (Oblast) Council elected a friend of this blog, Alexie Goncharenko as head of the regional parliament.

That is not to say that being friends automatically means agreement with politics or policy.  As adults we should all be capable of separating people and personalities from their positions and politics – though when looking to the extreme right or extreme left that admittedly becomes quite difficult.  Centre-left or centre-right, conservative, liberal or socialist – any central position within – does allow such separation for anybody with a modicum of intelligence however.

Behind Mr Goncharneko is a small team of trusted advisors and confidants.  A group that gathers to float ideas, ponder complexities and push liberalist idealism against the realist environment.  This often occurs in the absence of Mr Goncharneko, just as it does with many political figures the world over.

Don’t float something past the boss unless it has been crash-tested amongst the boiler room staff thoroughly – We all know the score.

Amongst this little crowd are several other friends of this blog – one of which today entered the Odessa Regional (Oblast) Council for the very first time as a member.

So today, I congratulate my friend Petr Obyhov, not only on his appointment, but also to acknowledge his work behind the scenes – and recent influence with –  the newly appointed regional head.

For posterity, photographs of his first vote and first sitting.

Petr 2Petr 1

Having known Petr sometime, some recent changes within the regional council clearly have his fingerprints all over them – even prior to taking up his position today.  Leaving aside his years of political activism (local governance, transparency and e-governance), Petr is one of those people who is intelligent to the point of being scary.  Microsoft Ukraine programming competition winner, headhunted by Samsung whilst still at university, a degree in applied mathematics, can read parcels of programming as if it were Russian etc.  All well over the heads of most people to be sure.

Thus the move today – that coincidently occurred on his first day – to live-stream Odessa Regional Council meetings on the Internet points to his influence before being moved from the boiler room to the public stage.  The same is true of the decision on 8th September to actively pursue e-government locally.  As such now all documents, incoming to, and generated within the Oblast Administration, are now scanned and accessible to assembly members where ever they be and whenever they want access.  A massive reduction in actual paperwork and copying at long last.

The new arrangement to post council members attendance and voting histories on-line again appears to have his fingerprints all over it too.

To be blunt, excuses that “the system is down, we’re waiting for a man to come and look”, or “it can’t be done, the system won’t allow it”, are also no longer much of an excuse when an e-governance and e-democracy advocate that not only can talk the talk, but can walk the programming walk and fix it faster than “the man” now sits in the council.

The IT campaigners, on-line B2B, digital media, big data analysts etc., now have their point-man in the Odessa Oblast Administration.  E-governance looks set to gain some traction at last.

Who knows, perhaps an increase in quality regional soft power may also result, helping to negate some of the partisan local media and set an example for the snake-pit that remains Odessa City Hall.

E-democracy, however, is likely to remain some way off.

Still, always nice to see people you know and like getting on in life.

One comment

  1. AWESOME and kudos to your friend! It looks like Odessa is even ahead of some of our local governments when it comes to integrating technology to streamline processes and making information available to those that need it.

    I wish more people knew about this and understood that Ukraine isn’t some 3rd world country… no more than parts of America are 3rd world-like.

    Thanks for continuing to write daily. I appreciate your blog and the effort that goes into it.

    Kind Regards,


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