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Civic Tech to empower democracy and increase civic engagement: Local examples from the US - Tammy Esteves (Troy University)


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This was presented at mySociety's TICTeC Local 2019 conference, which was held on 1st November 2019 at City Hall in London. More details on the conference can be found here:

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Civic Tech to empower democracy and increase civic engagement: Local examples from the US - Tammy Esteves (Troy University)

  1. 1. A presentation to TICTeC Local London by Dr. Tammy Esteves, Troy University CivicTech to empower democracy and increase civic engagement: Local gov examples from the United States
  2. 2. Political Participation Technology may provide some answers Political participation and trust in government are in evident decline Polarization, low voter turnout, rise of incivility, ideological disconnects
  3. 3. How I got here
  4. 4. How I got here Image from the 2013 Knight Foundation report “The Emergence of
  5. 5. Research questions • What is the relationship between sustainability, emergency management, and smart city technology? • Are the same cities leading the way in all three areas? • Are the departments siloed, or are they collaborating (or at least cooperating)? • Is a model emerging for doing this well? Initial questions • Full circle to – the use of technology for building community. • If and how is the technology being used to make life better? How are these all connected for sustainability and resilience holistically? Evolution
  6. 6. Research process
  7. 7. So, what are some ways technology is being used to promote democracy and increase civic engagement? • Social Media • Decrease Digital Divide​ • Increase Civic Participation​ • eVoting • Crowdsourcing • Reaching online students
  8. 8. Social Media • #lovelansing, #orlandostrong • City of Orlando and Orange County Commissioners • CivicPlus • Crime prevention and police assistance • Emergency alerts and severe weather updates • Activities and class registration • Town Halls and Council meetings • Public Service Announcements • Construction Updates and Road Closings • Job applications • Facebook Town Hall
  9. 9. Crossing the Digital Divide Louisville, KY: Digital Inclusion Plan. Residents in one of the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods can stroll down to their local community center for free high-speed internet access, digital literacy training and assistance in entrepreneurship skills. (GOVTECH) Austin, TX: Smart Work, Learn, Play. Connect underserved communities with digital inclusion program that will put an internet connection, digital literacy training and computers in every housing authority home. (GOVTECH)
  10. 10. Increasing civic participation • Raleigh, NC: InVision Raleigh, a web-based 3D tool that uses geospatial analytics to provide place-based scenarios allowing citizens to visualize and interact with proposed changes in the city, exploring trade-offs between scenarios and conditions. (GOVTECH)
  11. 11. eVoting • Arizona, Colorado, Missouri and North Dakota allow some voters to return ballots using web-based portal. • West Virginia has a mobile voting app using blockchain technology. • Nineteen states + DC allow some voters to return ballots via email or fax.
  12. 12. Crowdsourcing
  13. 13. Reaching the online students Politics and Pop Culture Politics in the Digital Age • Growth of technology • Citizen journalism; digital democracy • Social media in politics • Social media in governance • eParticipation & CivicTech • Civic activism; Social media in protests • Crowdsourcing • Civil liberties in a digital age • DigiGov in the movies • What is pop culture? • Cinema & Video, Television • Books • Art (including graffiti) • Music • Social Media
  14. 14. A word about apps – CONSOLIDATE! City of Boston (7) – BOS:311, Commonwealth Connect, TrashDay, ParkBoston, StreetBump, Boston PayTix, Where's My School Bus Other cities – Seattle FindItFixIt, CycleAtlanta, City of Calvary Pets (Calvary has 12 apps) And just because it is cool – BCN Visual
  15. 15. Interesting Cocktail Party tidbit Honest Elections Initiative in Seattle in 2015 – To allow lower-income residents to participate in the campaign process, each Seattle resident, regardless of immigration status, receives four Democracy Vouchers, worth $25 each. The vouchers are funded through a tax, and can be donated to candidates of the resident’s choice in city elections.
  16. 16. “What is technologically possible may not be organizationally feasible, or socially or politically desirable.” Teresa Pardo, Director of the Center for Technology in Government (CTG) at the University of Albany
  17. 17. "A smart sustainable city is an innovative city that uses information and communication technologies (ICTs) and other means to improve quality of life, efficiency of urban operation and services, and competitiveness, while ensuring that it meets the needs of present and future generations with respect to economic, social, environmental as well as cultural aspects." (UNECE and ITU, October 2015)
  18. 18. Let’s Network! Twitter - @tlesteves Email – LinkedIn – Tammy Esteves