The Catalyst: Dreaming Bigger in the Civic Technology Movement
Truman Partner Zac Townsend on the Civic Technology Movement:
A vibrant technical community has recently coalesced around creatively solving civic problems. Code for America is just the best example of the burgeoning group of organizations building well-designed, well-executed, and modern web or mobile apps that solve civic issues. Apps for Democracy, BigApps in New York City, and other App competitions, as well as hackathons, have all engaged developers and designers in engaging social and civic data, while Boston, San Francisco, and Philadelphia have led the way in building mobile and web apps to engage citizens outside the traditional information technology structures.
Yet, despite their promise, these applications are often at the periphery of government services and citizen need. Of course we should know where our children’s school buses are, whether our streets have been plowed, and what vacant properties exist in our cities. But, though useful, these tools are small fry. The civic technology movement can – and therefore must – dream bigger, and attempt to remake how technology is used in the core functioning of government.
Before I explain two complementary paths toward remaking technology in government, let’s look at the purpose of technology in government, and the current path toward building and using it.
The views expressed in this opinion piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Truman National Security Project or Educational Institute.