As NDI’s chief technology officer, Chris Spence has led technology initiatives for the Institute around the world and helped NDI become recognized as a leader in the application of technology to the unique and evolving challenges of democratic governance. He has helped a large number of governments, legislatures, election monitoring groups and civil society organizations, political parties and citizens in developing countries and emerging democracies embrace technology to advance their goals.
Since joining NDI in 1996, Mr. Spence has built and managed an information and communications technology (ICT) team that has worked in dozens of countries, providing innovative strategies and technical assistance to hundreds of groups, often employing a wide variety of online tools, mobile phones and software applications. Over the years the team has introduced several innovations to the field. Recent examples include the first uses of SMS for data collection in election monitoring; sophisticated election results reporting using multiple data sets, maps and other engaging visualizations; and defining early “open data” best practices for sharing election results.
Mr. Spence also sets strategy and manages the technology that runs NDI’s global field operation in 70 countries and the Institute’s home office in Washington, D.C. Under his leadership, NDI has successfully embraced technology for business operations and communications as it grew to more than 1,200 staff members. At the Washington headquarters, Mr. Spence has managed the evolution from a few in-house systems to cloud computing in an increasingly challenging security environment.
Mr. Spence’s technology career started in Silicon Valley with several companies including Oracle Corporation, Netscape Communications and Triad Systems. He currently splits time between Washington, D.C., and Denver, Colorado.
Selected writings and speeches from Mr. Spence:
- New Technologies for Democracy, speech, July 2010
- Twitter Against Tyrants: The Role of New Media in Authoritarian Regimes, statement before the Helsinki Commission, October 2009