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What Is Civic Tech? And Why This Technology Movement Is So Special?

Have you heard about the recent technology movement that has been sweeping across the globe? This movement is known as the Civic Tech movement (or Civic Technology movement)! “Civic Tech” refers to any kind of technology that improves the relationship between a government and its people. This technology can both help governments serve and disseminate information to the general public, as well as help citizens in allowing their voices to be heard.

Civic Tech Can Be…

Civic Technology is a catch-all term used to refer to a wide-range of services, organizations, phone and web applications, and software that can be used to foster government and citizen relationships. Check out the examples below to discover what the term “Civic Tech” can refer to!

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Code for America: A nonprofit organization in the United States that runs a multitude of Civic Tech projects. These projects include “hackathons” or hacking marathons; the Brigade program that bring together volunteers, designers, and developers; and an application called GetCalFresh that helps the Californian government get food to families in need through food stamps.

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OneBusAway: An application that uses open-source data to display timetables for city transit in Seattle, Washington.

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United States Digital Service: A start-up dedicated to developing technology that improves the relationship between the US government and its people. Some projects they have worked on include building websites like Vets.gov that contain information for American veterans, or developing a digital healthcare application!

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Chicago Health Atlas: A website that emerged as a collaboration between the Smart Chicago Collaborative and the Chicago Department of Health. This resource displays data about health across communities in Chicago in a way that will allow the government to increase health equity across the city.

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Seattle Boundaries: A website that allows residents of Seattle to find where they are located within boundaries for school districts, police districts, and more. Using this website, citizens can discover which policies affect and apply to them!

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What’s My Wage?: A website that allows workers to discover what their minimum wage should be based on who their employer is in state.

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Live Music Project: Seattle: A website that helps residents of seattle find classical music performances from orchestras to music festivals.

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Better Make Room: A website that has tools created by the US Department of Education to help students in finding the colleges best suited for them. Some of these tools include a College Finder and a website that allows students learn more about financial aid options.

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Crime and Punishment in Chicago Project: An index of sources, run by the civic tech organization Smart Chicago, which displays data on crime statistics and responses from the judicial system in Chicago. Ultimately, the goal is to create a guide to what data is accessible or not about crime and the judicial system.

Youth-Led Tech: A mentoring program for teenagers in Chicago neighborhoods and a juvenile detention center. The goal is to teach youth about how to use technology to meet their own needs.



Vocabulary

  1. Civic Tech: Any kind of technology that improves the relationship between a government and its people

  2. Disseminate: To spread/disperse something

  3. Catch-All: A general term that refers to a group with a wide variety of random, miscellaneous, or extra things

  4. Nonprofit (Organization): Refers to an organization that doesn’t give excess revenue to its members, but instead uses the extra money to work on achieving their goal (usually a social cause)

  5. Hackathon: An event where computer programmers, designers, etc. meet to work on creating software

  6. Food Stamps: A government voucher that can be exchanged for food


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anna Deen is a student at Washington University in St. Louis studying English Literature, American Culture Studies, and Communication Design. In her free time, she enjoys hiking in the mountains, going to art museums, and eating ice cream.