Civic Tech in Academia
Unless noted otherwise
Sameer Verma, Ph.D.
Professor, Information Systems
College of Business, San Francisco State University
San Francisco, CA 94132 USA
Developing the Caribbean 2015
University of the West Indies, Jamaica
Caution: Large variance in context.
Follow at your own risk!
SF State University (1899 - present)
• 29,000 + students
• Colleges: Business, Creative Arts, Education,
Ethnic Studies, Health and Human Services,
Humanities, Science and Engineering
O Main Campus: 1600 Holloway Ave. San Francisco
O Downtown Center: 835 Market St., San Francisco
O Romberg Tiburon Center, Tiburon
Commons Initiative - Mission
O To connect people, so they can communicate their ideas,
and collaborate on projects in the digital commons space at
SF State. (inward)
O To foster an environment where SF State commons can
participate in the commons worldwide. (outward)
OpenData, OpenGov, CivicTech
• Openly available data. Free to use, reuse, share-
alike. Provide attribution.
• Government data available to the public. Increase
transparency and accountability.
• Use of technology for civic engagement in the
public and private sector.
Social Justice, Equity, Resilience
Ad hoc experiences
• Interest began off-campus
• Uncoordinated experiences
• Discovery through Commons Initiative
O Like-minded students, staff, faculty
Let's hack something!
Hack nights and Hackathons
• Hack nights at Code for America
• San Francisco and Oakland brigades
• National Day of Civic Hacking
Hackathon in 2013
• Organize event
• Coordinate with National Day of Civic Hacking
• 8 challenges
• 1st time experience
• No student teams
• Four students
• Embedded as observers at SF Brigade (Code for
O 4 weeks observation phase
O 4 weeks participation phase
O Organize hackathon.
• Oversupply of tools and apps
• Little re-use
O Free Software Foundation
O Open Source Initiative
O Creative Commons
• Wide variance in skills
• Lack of consistency
• More Tech, less Civic
• Low Sustainability
O Bring into the classroom?
Rich history. Learn from it?
Civic Tech leads to Civic Engagement
Focus on local problems
Civic tech may or may not be driven by open data
Sustainability is key
Open Data @ SF State http://data.sfsu.edu
• A to Z Index
• Bike Routes and Racks
• Building Location
• Ewaste Collection Sites
• Sustainability Features
• Water Bottle Filling Stations
• Focus on:
Workshop: Civic Tech and Smart Cities
• June 8, 2015
• Scope: Sciences, Engineering, Business
• Focus: Research, teaching and service