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Civic Tech Roundup: August 31, 2016

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Seattle happenings

  • What happens with your ORCA card data? The Seattle Times ran a feature on a team of students in the University of Washington’s Data Science for Social Good summer program who just completed a project analyzing 21 million ORCA card readings – a two-month sample that reflects a fraction of Sound Transit’s holdings.
  • Using some of the source code developed for Seattle’s Broadband Speed Test, the City of Louisville released a similar interactive tool called Speed Up Louisville.
  • This weekend, Hack for Healthcare was held at Startup Hall, yielding ideas for tackling issues from mental health to prescription drug use tracking. Check out this writeup from host Kal Academy and the Tweets tagged #hackforhealthcare.


In the news

  • The White House and the U.S. Department of Education just awarded $100k to New York-based ThinkZone Games, the winner of the Reach Higher career app challenge. Watch First Lady Michelle Obama make the announcement, read a writeup in Xconomy, or check out the company site at
  • Data company Kaggle just released its own open data portal, which allows for analysis and visualization without download. Check it out.
  • Policy.Mic featured several young entrepreneurs in a feature on elections-related civic tech. In explaining why one of the featured organizations was set up as a nonprofit, author Kathleen Wong highlights the gap between the private and public sector that’s given rise to civic tech overall: “Those who understand Congress typically don’t understand technology, and vice versa.”



  • California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom Talks Transparency, Civic Tech, State IT Reforms.” In this interview with GovTech magazine, current Lieutenant Governor of California and former Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom shares his vision for how civic tech can transform government. “People are demanding a different kind of openness, and they have a right to demand it,” Newsom says. “It’s a race against time right now because people’s experience with government is contrasted every single day by the private sector, and our experience in public sector is so glaring, and so problematic in terms of civic engagement, and in terms of governmental interaction and trust that, at least from my perspective, this is code red. […] We just have to have this massive cultural and technological shift around interests — not agencies, not silos, and that requires a massive reorganization. That’s not reform, that’s reimagining, and what I’ll be promoting is reimagining these systems, not reforming them.”
  • Encouraging and Sustaining Innovation in Government.” This new report from open government legend Beth Noveck and Stefaan Verhulst of GovLab details the outstanding challenges and opportunities for the public sector.
  • Three Advantages of Beta-Testing City Websites.” This article in GovTech explores an emerging trend among cities: trying beta sites on real users before relaunching.


Upcoming events 

  • Thursday, September 15, 12:00 pm: Civic Tech Lunch Hour at Impact Hub Seattle featuring the Department of Neighborhoods (RSVP)
  • Friday-Saturday, September 9-10: Technology & Justice Symposium at University of Washington School of Law (RSVP)
  • September 10-23: Seattle Design Festival
  • Thursday, September 22: Open Seattle Meetup (no RSVP yet)
  • October 14-16: Seattle GiveCamp
  • October 15-16: DubHacks (students only)