If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you’ll have seen a series of new projects rolling out over the past few couple of months: these are the concrete outcomes of the TICTeC Labs programme. You can access them all here.
TICTeC Labs was a new and, in retrospect, quite bold project for mySociety, involving many moving parts, the generous participation of people from a huge variety of organisations, and with collaborators in several different countries — and crucially, support from the National Endowment for Democracy.
Last week, in a final wrap-up event, we looked back on the programme as a whole, with presentations from our subgrantees and reflections from the steering group. If you’d like to watch for yourself, you can do so on YouTube, and there’s a transcript here (automatically generated, so be prepared for some typos etc).
Each TICTeC Surgery began with a question and ended up with a finished product or service several months later. At any one time, the six projects would be at various overlapping stages, from the initial discussions, to the Action Lab deciding what and whom to commission, to the work being undertaken and finally launched.
Despite this complexity, and thanks to the hard work of so many, each project was completed on time. Each one is a solution to an identified issue within the global civic tech community. And the benefits don’t stop there: everything is open source, and can be accessed, used or replicated by any group that may need them.
The wrap-up event began with presentations from the groups who had created these final outputs:
People Powered, on showcasing public-private civic tech success stories. Pam Bailey spoke about the importance of placing a human interest strand at the centre of the stories we tell. The output for this Surgery was a set of case studies highlighting notable examples of such projects.
Technoloxia, on a toolkit to help the global civic tech community fix common accessibility challenges. Yosr Jouni described the challenge of making a topic like accessibility both fun and indeed accessible in itself. The output here was an online, illustrated guide that’s available to all.
Open North, on data governance and quality. Christian Medina described how they used the international scope of the Labs to ensure that their offering was relevant to everyone, not just the global north. The resulting online course is in French and English and free for anyone to access.
Fundación Multitudes, on storytelling and reach. Stephani Paliza also shared thoughts on how they ensured their output would be relevant to communities anywhere in the world. Their offering was in the form of training for civic tech organisations across several continents, equipping them with effective tools to get stories about their projects and successes into mainstream channels.
The Demography Project, on driving impactful societal change. Richard Muraya described some crucial outputs around water in Kenya: educating, monitoring, and ensuring better water quality during a critical period for the country. The President of Kenya even attended their event for World Wetlands Day. You can see more about their several digital outputs here.
Policy Lab Africa, on civic tech in hostile environments. Charles Ikem described how, in just two months, they were able to map a huge amount of data showing where polling stations — often just unremarkable addresses in rural areas — were located, and launch an app for reporting electoral violence in time for Nigeria’s presidential elections.
mySociety’s Chief Executive Louise Crow and Steering Group members Isabel Hou and Matt Stempeck discussed to what extent the programme had met its aims to ‘strengthen civic tech networks and the exchange of ideas’, and ‘develop new initiatives and collaborations that expand the civic tech evidence base, address issues and challenges facing the sector, and enhance the effectiveness and potential impact of civic tech projects.
Matt encapsulated our thoughts neatly when he said: “The value of the unexpected community that was built in this process was important — so the direct, formal partnerships; but also, seeing who’s doing what, the diverse approaches to similar challenges, while at the same time finding that community.
“People really liked the ability to have repeat engagement on the theme and the ability to keep working on things over time rather than one off events.”
Finally, a Q&A allowed audience members to add their thoughts. This is a programme that’s been all about knowledge-sharing, and it’s notable that this spirit also persisted in our conversation: already, participants were talking about more translations of some of the assets, and invitations to speak at planned global conferences.
Everything we learned during the TICTeC Labs process will be very useful as we consider the next phase of TICTeC and what form its offerings will take as we go forward. This event allowed us to take a step back and understand our progress, learnings, and lessons for future programmes.