The field of civic tech is still pretty new (not much more than a decade old, give or take), and because of this, there isn’t one common, well-known definition for it. It’s still evolving. If you’re not entirely sure what civic tech is, never fear – you’re not alone! We’re going to break it down so that you can get a better idea of what we and our global network are doing and why we care so much about this work.
Civic tech, in short, is technology that positively impacts society — but that’s not the whole story.
It’s about creating tools that help make more democratic, transparent and people-centered public services, but it isn’t only about the tools themselves — it’s about the process through which these tools are created. One important element of the process, for example, is that the people who will be using the tool must be involved in its creation.
A lot of civic tech tools are created with the intention of putting power in the hands of society, whether that be by making an already existing service more accessible or creating something new from scratch that helps people become more involved in the decision making that will affect their lives and the lives of others in their community.
In a sense, civic tech is a bridge that helps us better exercise our rights in a constant, active, and collaborative way. It does not see applications, platforms, and devices as an end but as a vehicle to improve and encourage citizen participation.
It might help to read about some specific civic tech projects to get a better idea of what it’s all about. Here are some examples:
It’s important to note that:
by Jennifer Pahlka