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Civic Tech Roundup: January 25, 2017

Seattle happenings

  • On January 17 and 18, the City of Seattle hosted a two-day workshop on “Big Data and Human Services” at City Hall, bringing in speakers and attendees from all over the country. (GeekWire)
  • Consider.It, the tool and company used by the City of Seattle to engage the community around the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), was profiled this week in GeekWire. (GeekWire)


National news

  • Big news for the civic technology world: According to Garrett Lansing, the new White House Chief Digital Officer, the U.S. Digital Service is “here to stay” – and so is acting administrator Matt Cutts, who recently quit his job at Google to stay in government. This answers one of the biggest questions the community had for the incoming administration, while raising many questions about what the agency will look like in the future, given that this is only the second administration – and first Republican administration – under which its employees will serve. (Politico)
  • Outgoing White House official Cecilia Munoz, who was behind projects such as the College Scorecard, is moving to New America, where she will create a national network for civic technologists. (StateScoop)


New tools

  • Cities across Europe and the U.S. are using technology to engage their publics in city planning. From CitySwipe (“Tinder for cities”) in Santa Monica to Flux Metro in Austin, local governments are hoping to make the change happening around people easier to influence and understand. (The Guardian)



  • Are bots the future of political activism? Carl Miller makes the case, in Wired. (Wired)
  • In “Hacking the Army,” Kate Conger explores one of the approaches the Defense Digital Service (part of the U.S. Digital Service) has taken to protecting the U.S. military against hacking attempts – “bug bounties,” contests for hackers to find vulnerabilities in the system before hostile agents do. Said outgoing Secretary of the Army in this article: “I have no better idea than you what will happen with the next administration, but I don’t think that the need for and the value of programs like this are really disputed by anybody.” (TechCrunch)
  • Researchers in the UK recently collaborated on a study of “what role digital technologies can play in helping to support people affected by domestic abuse.” Their just-released reports contain research findings as well as design principles, user experience maps, and suggested solutions that civic technologists could take on. All of it is available at; the funder, Comic Relief, is accepting proposals for potential tech solutions within the UK.
  • Knight-Mozilla Open News Fellow Lisa Rost recently gave a talk called “A Data Point Walks into a Bar” that directly addresses the connection between data and feelings and has some insights for anyone using data or data visualizations to communicate human experiences. (Chaos Computer Club)

  • Civicist presented “An Inclusive Vision for Democratic Technology,” calling out specific ways that technology makers can include historically marginalized populations. While the author is writing for a partisan audience, the suggestions could work for any organizations that works to engage diverse communities. (Civicist)


Upcoming events

Community events with a civic tech component:

  • Thursday, February 2, 11:45 am-1:00 pm at the Center for Architecture & Design, 1010 Western Ave: “Open Sidewalks: How Open to All?” is an opportunity to learn more about the Open Sidewalks project. Presented by the University of Washington Taskar Center for Accessible Technology, within the AIA exhibit “Open to All: Designing for the Full Range of Human Experience.” Free.

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