1. TICTeC Civic Tech Surgery #1: Public-private collaborations

    As outlined in this blog post, as part of our brand new TICTeC Labs programme, we’ll be hosting a series of Civic Tech Surgeries to diagnose, dissect and address Civic Tech dilemmas to unlock impact.

    I’m delighted to share details of our first Civic Tech Surgery. It will be held online on 28th October 14.00 – 16.00 GMT+1, and the topic is: Public-private collaborations: how can civic tech work effectively with public and private institutions?

    During the Surgery, we will hear about the challenges of working on private-public civic tech projects from practitioners from across the world, as well as their solutions and ideas to tackle these. There will be ample opportunity for attendees to also provide their feedback on issues they have faced, and their solutions and ideas.

    The Surgery will also feature reflections from civic tech researchers, to give perspectives on any existing evidence or research ideas on the topic that might be beneficial, that can then be elaborated on in subsequent TICTeC Action Labs.

    After not being able to meet as a global community in-person since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’re really excited to again facilitate the exchange of relevant and timely research, lessons learnt, successes, failures, ideas and code amongst the civic tech sector globally, so ultimately, civic tech tools are more effective.

    Who are Civic Tech Surgeries for?

    Anyone interested in the use and effectiveness of digital tools to enhance public participation, democracy, transparency and accountability.

    We think the event will be of particular interest to civic tech practitioners and researchers, elected government representatives, civil servants, technology companies, funders and software developers.

    Register to attend

    The Civic Tech Surgery will be held virtually on Zoom. You need to register to attend by signing up on this Eventbrite page.

    We look forward to seeing you there! To hear of future TICTeC events and initiatives first, do consider signing up to our mailing list.

  2. Introducing TICTeC Labs

    We’re delighted to share an exciting new chapter for TICTeC.

    TICTeC stands for ‘The Impacts of Civic Technology Conference’. Since 2015 mySociety has convened an international cohort of those who build, use and research technologies that aim to enhance public participation, transparency and accountability, in order to openly and honestly examine how digital civic interventions are shaping society.

    Discussion leading to action

    Now, thanks to financial support from the National Endowment for Democracy, TICTeC is expanding from an annual conference into a continuous programme of activities and events that will run across the next 18 months, primarily remotely.

    The aim is to discuss and tackle some of the biggest challenges facing the global civic tech/digital democracy sector — and once they’ve been identified, we’ll grant participants the funding that will enable them to work on solutions.

    We’re calling this new programme TICTeC Labs and it consists of two streams:

    1. Civic Tech Surgeries

    Regular online convenings bringing together the global civic tech community to discuss challenges facing the sector, to share existing research and experience, and identify evidence gaps and other needs.

    Each Civic Tech Surgery will be around two hours long, and open to participants from around the world; there will be six surgeries across the next 18 months, each focused on a specific theme identified as a key challenge for the global civic tech sector.

    The first Civic Tech Surgery

    Public-private collaborations: how can civic tech work effectively with public and private institutions?

    28 October 14.00 – 16.00 GMT+1

    Read more about it and sign up here.

    2. Action Labs

    A collaborative and action-oriented process to take forward ideas generated in Civic Tech Surgeries and support initiatives that address common challenges.

    Following each surgery session, a working group of expert individuals will be convened to lead the Action Lab for that issue area, feeding back to the wider pool of participants as they go. Action Labs members will work together to decide what would be helpful to produce in order to help the civic tech community with challenges identified in Civic Tech Surgeries.

    Grants will be available to those who apply to actually produce the work identified by the Action Lab.

    We’ll be opening applications to join the first TICTeC Action Lab soon, so do sign up for updates.

    Oversight

    To help guide and promote the TICTeC Labs programme, as well as to make it as relevant and inclusive as possible to local and regional contexts and contributors, we have established a global Steering Group. We are delighted to welcome the following exceptional people to the TICTeC Labs Steering Group, and we thank them for their contributions:

    • Neema Iyer, Founder, Pollicy
    • Oscar Montiel, Independent Consultant (formerly The Engine Room, Codeando México, Open Knowledge etc)
    • Matt Stempeck, Technologist in Residence, Cornell University, and founder and director of the Civic Tech Field Guide
    • Isabel Hou, Open Culture Foundation and g0v
    • Nonso Jideofor, Funding & Partnerships Manager, Code for All

    With the help of the Steering Group we have now identified topics for the Civic Tech Surgeries and Action Labs over the next 18 months:

    • Public-private collaborations: how can civic tech work effectively with public and private institutions?
    • Ensuring civic tech is accessible: how can we lead and popularise best practice?
    • Accessing quality information: how can we overcome barriers to accessing good data and documentation?
    • Scaling and replicating civic tech: how can we overcome the well known challenges to achieving scale and replication?
    • Tackling the climate crisis with civic tech: Where can civic tech be most impactful?
    • Storytelling and reach: how can we amplify our successes beyond the civic tech community to evidence our impact through mainstream channels?

    If you would like to join a Civic Tech Surgery as a discussant to share your experiences of, or reflect on, any of the above topics, then please get in touch. We will of course communicate dates for the Civic Tech Surgeries in due course, and you can hear these first by signing up to our mailing list.

    Future plans

    We do of course still plan to host our usual in-person TICTeC global gatherings again in future, but at this stage we still think it is too early to start organising a conference with attendees from over 35 countries worldwide, whilst international travel is still so uncertain.

    This is why TICTeC Labs is so exciting – we can’t wait to connect more meaningfully with the global civic tech community again and ensure that the peer and cooperation network we worked so hard to build through TICTeC conferences can survive and thrive in this period of uncertainty. We really hope you can join us for this new chapter.

  3. Join us at our TICTeC Show & Tells

    We’re excited to invite you to our TICTeC Show & Tell events, which will be taking place online in March, April and May.

    At each event, six speakers from across the world will be given 7 minutes each to share their research and learnings related to the impacts of civic technology.

    TICTeC is the global home of civic tech impact research, learning and change. It’s a safe place to honestly examine what works, what doesn’t, what can be improved, what to be aware of etc., so ultimately, better digital tools for civic and democratic engagement are developed.

    Event 1:

    At this session, speakers will share their research, lessons learned and insights related to the impacts of using technology and data for improved accountability and transparency.

    Find out more here and sign up to come along.

    Event 2:

    At this event, speakers will share research and past experiences on using technology to involve citizens in policy and decision making. Topics include online citizen assemblies, online post-COVID consultations and citizen-representative communications.

    Read about each of the presentations and sign up here.

    Event 3:

    Shows & Tells at this session will cover how using geospatial/place-based technology can empower local communities to engage in planning and policy decisions.

    Read about all the presentations, and sign up here.

    Interested in sponsoring TICTeC?

    We’re a charity, so in order to continue running TICTeC events and initiatives we need financial support. Sponsorship opportunities for the TICTeC Show & Tells can be found here. We’re also looking for support for an expanded TICTeC programme of work to strengthen and solidify an international network of specialists armed with the skills and knowledge to instigate real change in how democracy can be developed and practised online. Get in touch if you’d like to learn more about these opportunities.

  4. TICTeC Show & Tells: Call for Proposals now open

    We would dearly love to be issuing a Call for Proposals for our normal two day Impacts of Civic Technology Conference (TICTeC), in person, in some beautiful city somewhere, in anticipation of having some great discourse and drinks. Alas, the pandemic means we are not yet in a place to do that.

    We also recognise that attempting to hold a two day event online is just too much – we are all suffering a bit of screen fatigue at this point, and we understand how difficult it is to concentrate and engage with lengthy online sessions.

    Therefore, we will instead be hosting a series of online TICTeC ‘Show and Tells’ from March until May 2021, which will be short, energetic and to-the-point.

    These will be hour-long virtual events that will bring together the global community who use, build, research or fund digital technology that empowers citizens. Speakers will share their real and in-depth research and lessons learnt about the impacts of these digital technologies, and whether their intended outcomes were indeed realised. TICTeC, as it always has been, continues to be a safe place to honestly examine what works, what doesn’t, what can be improved etc, so, ultimately, better digital tools are developed.

    TICTeC’s ethos is that every organisation developing and running technology that serves citizens should do so with evidence-based research at the forefront of their decisions, and should examine their impacts. This is to ensure validity and legitimacy, but also to curb and mitigate possible detrimental and unintended consequences.

    Apply to present

    Each TICTeC Show and Tell will feature five 7-minute presentations, followed by a Q&A session after all speakers have made their presentations. If you have relevant research/experiences/lessons learnt to share, please submit a talk by 14 February 2021.

    We’re looking for proposals relevant to the below topic areas in particular, however, if your proposal doesn’t quite fit into these themes but is still relevant to civic technology we’d nevertheless love to hear from you. We’re also particularly keen this time to hear from users of civic technology about their experiences, as well as researchers, funders and practitioners.

    For more advice on submitting a proposal please see our guide.

    Sponsorship opportunities

    TICTeC really does bring together a truly global group of people, all passionate about examining digital technology’s impact on society. TICTeC events usually bring together participants from at least 30 countries worldwide.  But, as a charity, we need support to make TICTeC convenings happen. We’re currently looking for sponsors to help us continue. If you’re interesting in helping us to continue TICTeC’s valuable work, please see our guide to sponsorship and sponsorship packages, or feel free to contact Gemma Moulder to speak about more bespoke alternatives.

    We look forward to reading your proposals, and to seeing you at our Show and Tells!

  5. Talking TICTeC 2021

    We need your input on the future of TICTeC – read on to find out more about our plans and have your say.

    We’ve been running our Impacts of Civic Technology Conference (TICTeC) since 2015, and in that time it’s become a key annual milestone for the sector to stop, gather and take stock of how civic technology is shaping societies around the world.

    We believe more than ever in TICTeC’s core ethos: that every organisation developing and running technology that serves citizens — including ourselves — should do so with evidence-based research at the forefront of their decisions, and should examine their impacts. This is to ensure validity and legitimacy, but also to curb and mitigate possible detrimental and unintended consequences.

    Such an approach is especially important for organisations involved in democratic and civic technology, as active, informed and engaged citizens are needed now more than ever to tackle vital issues such as climate change, systemic racism, and health crises. If the tools we build to empower citizens to get things done don’t serve them or function as planned; then it’s time to do things differently.

    TICTeC allows attendees to learn from each other to do this, by sharing best practices, research, methodologies and lessons learnt – so that, ultimately, better civic and democratic tools are developed.

    We will meet again

    TICTeC truly is a global gathering, bringing together around 200 attendees from around 30 countries from across the world.

    Usually, by this time of year, we are well into the organisation of next year’s TICTeC, which we traditionally hold in March or April, in a different global city each year. And by September, we’ve usually decided where we’ll be holding the event and announced all the details including our open Call for Proposals and registration.

    However, this year, as we all know, has been like no other.

    Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the complications it brings for organising global gatherings, we have chosen not to pursue our usual plans. Therefore, for the first time since 2015 we are not planning to run an in-person TICTeC in March/April next year.

    We are instead considering our options for hosting the in-person TICTeC later in 2021, and in addition to our online TICTeC Seminar series this autumn (please do come!), we’d like to organise some further TICTeC initiatives in spring 2021.

    Help us shape TICTeC

    We’d like to make our next TICTeC initiatives as useful as possible to all those working on, using, funding or researching civic technology. What would you find helpful? What would best meet your needs and goals? More seminars? Perhaps workshops, training or networking events? Virtual or in-person? Or perhaps other initiatives that don’t involve actually convening in either of these ways, like podcasts, forums or information sharing?

    We are really keen to hear your feedback on this, as well as on the development and improvement of TICTeC in general. You can let us know your thoughts by filling out this survey or emailing us directly on tictec@mysociety.org. We’d be grateful for any feedback before 31st October 2020.

    Time to reflect

    We’re obviously disappointed to not be organising TICTeC as usual this year, as it is truly a massive highlight for us, and is one of the few gatherings of the global civic tech community left. However, we’re determined that we will meet again and we’re glad to have some time to reflect on how we do things.

    The last few months have been a good time to reflect, speak to other event hosts, attend as many virtual events as possible, review virtual platforms, update our environmental policies, and think about how we can use TICTeC to raise more underrepresented voices.

    So as well as changing the time of year we host TICTeC in 2021, we’ll also be organising things differently. We have a new Environmental Policy that will govern our decisions about future TICTeCs – e.g. hosting in cities that more attendees can reach by train/sea; carbon offsetting; opting for catering with the lowest carbon footprints; and encouraging attendees to play their own part in keeping their carbon footprints down or offsetting etc. And we’re working on plans to make TICTeC as diverse, inclusive and equitable as possible.

    We will continue to reflect and adjust, and your feedback will really help us with this, so we’re really grateful for your thoughts.

    If you’d like to hear about future TICTeC initiatives first, then do consider signing up to our mailing list or joining the TICTeC community on the Google Group.

  6. Join us at our TICTeC Seminars

    We’re not ones to say ‘told you so’, but…

    If more digitalisation, transparency and accountability mechanisms had been adopted before the coronavirus pandemic hit, it’s clear that many outcomes would have been different today.

    Civic tech, digital democracy and open government organisations have been championing these reforms and mechanisms for decades, with the pandemic serving as a tragic example of why they’re essential and not just ‘nice to have’.

    Join mySociety and guests this autumn for a series of online discussions as part of our Impacts of Civic Technology (TICTeC) events programme, to reflect on the impacts of the above, and why digital transparency and accountability are more relevant than ever going forward.

    Seminar 1:

    Having more open data, and access to data, would have helped with responding to the COVID-19 crisis — that’s the premise with which we’ll start this discussion.

    More open contracting and beneficial ownership data would have helped governments the world over to make quicker and safer purchases of essential equipment to tackle COVID-19 — and that’s just one example of how a reliable open data strategy could have saved time… and lives.

    Join us to discuss this timely and important topic by registering here.

    Seminar 2:

    Things that once were deemed by governments as impossible or not important enough – like remote voting – have become a reality in parliaments across the world since the emergence of COVID-19.

    This session will get to the crux of why it’s taken a global pandemic to get more parliaments to digitise, and how new measures should be harnessed so future opportunities are not missed. Register here to join us.

    Seminar 3:

    The pandemic may be taking up all the column inches, but let’s not forget that the climate emergency hasn’t gone away.

    With the UN COP26 delayed until November 2021, this ‘borrowed’ time is crucial. We think it’s vital that we and the TICTeC community discuss the climate crisis and how the wealth of experience and expertise in the civic tech sector can feed into pivotal actions needed to tackle it. What can be learnt from previous civic tech initiatives, and from the COVID-19 pandemic, to ensure the right decisions are taken and opportunities are not missed?

    More details on the exact date, topic and panelists for this discussion will be added here and to the TICTeC website soon. If you would like to suggest a speaker or topic for this discussion (or ideas for future TICTeC seminars!) please get in touch; we’d love to hear your thoughts.

    Join the conversation

    There will be ample opportunity for attendees to ask questions during the seminars, and engage in the conversation via chat and interactive polls.

    Each discussion will be followed by an optional speed networking session. Attendees who stay will be split into small groups so they can introduce themselves and their work; discuss their thoughts on the session topic; and get to know some new people.

    We hope you can join us!

  7. TICTeC 2020: schedule now online

    We’re delighted to announce the schedule for TICTeC 2020, our two-day conference that focuses on the use and impacts of Civic Tech around the world. If this sounds good to you, you’d better book now, because spaces are limited.

    Thanks to our sponsors, TICTeC is returning for its sixth year and this time will be held in Reykjavik on 24th and 25th March 2020. Councils in Iceland are pioneers in using digital tools to elicit feedback and engagement from its citizens on policies, expenditure and projects, so TICTeC 2020 will be a really unique occasion to hear about these, as well as many other innovations from across the world.

    You can find out all about TICTeC over on the event’s website, and get a flavour of what Iceland is like as a place to visit in this video:

     

  8. TICTeC Local 2019: schedule now online

    We’re pleased to announce the schedule for TICTeC Local 2019, our one-day conference that focuses directly on the use and impacts of Civic Tech in communities and local government. If this sounds good to you, you’d better book now, because spaces are limited.

    Join us on 1st November at London’s City Hall to discuss how digital tools can help local government and communities to foster citizen engagement, drive efficiencies, and combat social and environmental problems. TICTeC events are unique in that they emphasise the research behind digital platforms and tools, not just showcasing the tools themselves.

    TICTeC Local is more than just a conference once a year: we want it to be a catalyst that helps more local councils and organisations think about and research the impacts of digital tools they are using, and to share this knowledge amongst their peers.

    For six years now we have fostered a global network of civic tech researchers and practitioners via our Impacts of Civic Technology Conferences (TICTeC) – TICTeC Local allows us to bring some of that international experience to the local level and emphasise the importance of local digital innovations and researching their impacts.

    Free public sector tickets

    We have a set number of free tickets available for public sector attendees. These are limited to a maximum of two tickets per public sector organisation. If you work in the public sector and can commit to attending please choose the ‘Public Sector’ ticket option on Eventbrite.

    Speakers include

    We are delighted to be joined by many excellent speakers — here are just a few you can expect to hear from:


    Vidhya Alakeson

    Chief Executive, Power to Change

    Vidhya is the founding Chief Executive of Power to Change, the independent trust established in 2015 to support the growth of community businesses across England to create more prosperous and cohesive communities.


    Miriam Levin

    Head of Community Action and Giving at Office for Civil Society, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)

    The focus of Miriam’s 18 year career in central government, public, private and third sectors has been to develop and implement long-lasting, impactful community development strategies, focusing on how people can be involved in shaping the places where they live and take action on the things that matter to them.

     


    Professor Graham Smith

    Professor of Politics and Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy (CSD), Westminster University

    Graham’s research interests are in democratic theory and practice (particularly participatory democratic institutions), climate and environmental politics and the third sector/social economy.

    He is currently involved in a number of funded research projects, including Scholio (University of Connecticut), Participedia (SSHRC) and AssoDem (Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness). Recently completed projects include Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit (ESRC) and Cherry-picking.


    Giselle Cory

    Executive Director, DataKind UK

    Giselle oversees the running of DataKind UK, empowering the community of volunteers in their use of data for social good. After graduating in Maths and Physics, Giselle worked as a data scientist and public policy analyst in the UK Government, a national charity and think tanks, before returning to study a masters in Computational Journalism. Prior to joining the team at DataKind UK, Giselle was a longtime core volunteer. She believes that smart, responsible data collection and use can help the social sector tackle some of the UK’s biggest challenges – and change the world!


    Richard Smith

    Lead User Researcher at #HackIT, Hackney Council

    HackIT brings together the technology, digital and data teams of Hackney Council to support their residents and businesses, colleagues and partners.


    Georges Clement

    Co-Founder, President, JustFix.nyc

    Georges is a product manager and experienced nonprofit leader who specializes in partnerships, business operations, fundraising, and gathering research insights to inform digital product features.

    JustFix.nyc builds technology for tenants and organisers fighting displacement, by following a community-driven approach to support New York’s housing justice movement.


    Dr. Tammy Esteves

    Assistant Professor of Public Administration, Troy University

    Dr. Esteves is very active in the American Society for Public Administration, where she is on the board of the Section of Democracy and Social Justice, and is a past president of the Evergreen Chapter in Seattle. She primarily teaches Research Methods, Leadership in Public Administration, Ethics in Public Administration, eGovernance, and Public Health Preparedness and Emergency Response. Her main research interest is the role of technology for building community, particularly in the areas of social media, crowdsourcing, and GIS.


    Jonathan Pichot

    Developer & Product Manager, NYC Planning Labs

    Jonathan is a New York-based software developer and product manager with an enduring fascination of cities. He has worked for software companies and city governments, working to use technology to improve the way cities function and the lives of the people that live in them.

    NYC Planning Labs  believe better outcomes can be achieved using modern design and development practices along with open technology. They are civic technologists that help support the Department of City Planning’s mission.


    Don’t miss TICTeC Local 2019

    Book your place here.

    There’s more information about TICTeC Local on the main TICTeC website.

  9. Join us in Reykjavik for TICTeC 2020

    We’re excited to announce that TICTeC 2020, our sixth global conference on the Impacts of Civic Technology, will be in Reykjavik, Iceland on 24 and 25 March 2020.

    Put that in your diaries now, we’d love for you to join us.

    What is TICTeC and why do we host it?

    There are several existing annual conferences in which civic technology is showcased, and in which the potential for such tools to change and drive participation can be discussed, however, very few of these events include real and in-depth research into whether the potential outcomes of civic technology were realised.

    This is where TICTeC differs: the majority of speakers will be presenting evidence-based research to demonstrate the various impacts of civic technology from across the world.

    We created TICTeC to bridge the gap between civic tech and research – to bring two different communities together, to emphasise the importance of being able to demonstrate impact, and to share what those impacts are.

    Why Iceland?

    We’re really excited to be hosting TICTeC in Reykjavik, as the City Council are pioneers in using digital tools to elicit feedback and engagement from its citizens on council policies, expenditure and projects.  As one civil servant told us: “If a political party does not believe in or promise citizen engagement they just won’t be elected here”.

    TICTeC 2020 will therefore be a unique occasion for the global community to learn from Iceland’s extensive civic tech and civic engagement experience, and vice versa.

    We’re delighted that civic tech veterans Citizens Foundation will speak at TICTeC 2020 about their latest attempt to crowdsource the Icelandic constitution using digital tools, a project they are currently working on with Iceland’s National Parliament and the University of Iceland. Lessons from this will be extremely valuable to TICTeC’s global audience, so we are excited to have them join us.

    TICTeC 2020 will also include keynote speeches, simultaneous research tracks, hands-on workshops, and special networking sessions. We also expect there to be additional fringe events as other organisations arrange companion events before and after the main conference.

    Over the coming weeks, we’ll be publishing a series of blog posts to further explain our reasons behind choosing Iceland for TICTeC 2020; how we’ll be trying to reduce TICTeC 2020’s carbon footprint; and our experiences trying to increase diversity at our conferences.

    Apply to present or run a workshop

    This two day conference provides the opportunity for researchers to present theoretical or empirical work related to the conference theme. We also welcome proposals for individuals to lead workshops or give presentations relating to the conference theme. We encourage submissions to focus on the specific impacts of technologies, rather than showcase new tools that are as yet untested.

    If you’d like to give a presentation or run a workshop at TICTeC 2020, please submit your proposals now. You have until Friday 17th January 2020.

    Register

    For the last three years TICTeC has sold out – so make sure you get tickets early. Early bird tickets provide a significant discount, so it’s well worth registering before early bird ticket sales end on Friday 14th February 2020.

    Sponsor

    If you’d like to support TICTeC to bring together the world’s best Civic Technology researchers and practitioners, there are many different sponsorship opportunities available. Please visit our sponsorship page for more details, or contact gemma@mysociety.org for more information.

    Keep an eye on the TICTeC website for full details of proceedings as they are announced.

    We look forward to seeing you in March in beautiful Reykjavik!

    Meanwhile, if you’d like to see what TICTeC is all about, you can browse all the resources from this year’s TICTeC, check out the TICTeC guide, and/or watch this video overview:

    And here is an overview of this year’s conference, expect more of the same plus improvements in Reykjavik:

    Photo header: Image by Sharon Ang from Pixabay 

  10. We’re heading to RightsCon: See you there?

    Next week Gareth and I will be heading to Tunis to attend the 8th edition of RightsCon. RightsCon is the world’s leading summit on human rights in the digital age, so we’re thrilled to be hosting a session at the conference about digital Access to Information platforms with our awesome friends at MuckRock.

    If you’ll also be there we’d love to talk to you about your campaigns or investigations and how using access to information platforms could help.

    As Jen said in her recent blog post,  we’ll be spending time this year developing our software platform Alaveteli Pro so more people across the world have access to its digital tools that help with the sending and management of information requests.

    We’d love to get feedback on this work and would love to meet organisations who are interested in setting up Alaveteli Pro instances, in order to make access to information easier for citizens in their countries. We’re also very keen to talk to individuals and organisations who are interested in collaborating on cross-border public-interest investigations and campaigns using FOI-generated data.

    We’d also love to talk to RightsCon attendees who might be interested in attending our AlaveteliCon event in Oslo on 23 and 24 September, where activists, journalists, technologists and campaigners from across the world will come together to discuss Freedom of Information technologies for creating public-interest investigations and campaigns.

    And of course, our Call for Proposals is currently open for our TICTeC Local conference so it’d be great to chat to people interested in presenting their work using digital innovations to help local communities and/or public authorities to foster citizen engagement, drive efficiency, and combat social and environmental problems.

    If you’re interested in chatting to us in Tunis drop us an email or give us a tweet 🙂