The Meaning of Civic Technology
When it comes to solving our everyday challenges, most of us live in the 21st century: the age of websites, apps, and software suites. Whatever we need, needs to be convenient, connected, user-friendly, digitally recorded, accessible from anywhere at any time. As consumers, we settle for nothing less. But when it comes to solving the challenges we face as citizens of a society, we are decades behind. Speaking up for change, keeping others safe, helping those who need a hand, or shedding light on the inner workings of government often require us to interact with arcane, opaque, overcomplicated systems – when there are systems at all. Civic technology fills this gap.
Our purpose is ancient
To shape a civic society that works for all citizens. Our methods are new: the infrastructure, software, APIs, web technologies, and data analysis techniques that power modern life. Civic technologists have removed
barriers between Californians and their food stamps, connected
Chicago families to high-quality preschool programs, crowdsourced
shelter maps in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, and revealed
the federal government’s data to the public. While civic technologists’ specific aims and backgrounds vary, we all share a vision of a future in which technology enables government, organizations, businesses, and ordinary people to work together seamlessly.
As civic innovators, we aim to deliver technological projects that introduce novel approaches to solve real government needs. We welcome members from any background, from traditional tech industry roles to policy, research, nonprofits, and government. Come with your passion to innovate and your will to execute.
We work hand in hand with Code for San Francisco, Microsoft, Xtreet Government Technology, Geosphere Interactive, and others on solving civic and government technology issues. This is a great example of non-profits, startups, corporations, and volunteer groups working together for a better future.
Note from one of our valued partners
The Microsoft Civic Engagement Team works with local and national partners in cities in the U.S. to strengthen metropolitan communities and regions and contribute to local opportunities and economic growth. At Microsoft, we see how cities and counties are working at the intersection of people, programs, policy, and technology in ways that are creative, solution-oriented and highly impactful. Our team focuses on helping apply Microsoft resources, expertise, and networks to advance the effectiveness and awareness of these local initiatives and priorities.
The work touches on issues such as education and training, innovation and economic development, sustainability, criminal justice, accessibility, and transportation. We also enable the general application of tech and data to civic challenges by non-profits, governments, start-ups, and other organizations. Through cross-sector partnerships in these and other areas, we strive to be an active collaborator on work that has a sustained and scalable impact on the lives of individuals.