TICTeC is our annual conference on the impacts of civic technologies. It’s a great chance to hear from researchers and practitioners right across the sector, from many different countries and with many different approaches.
Not least among these will be our keynote speakers. Today, we’re delighted to announce the first of these: Helen Milner, CEO of Tinder Foundation.
Helen has had a long history in delivering training around the internet and particularly, as a means of addressing social exclusion.
Hi Helen. Give us the elevator pitch: what will you be talking about at TICTeC, in a nutshell?
Is civic tech an amusing pastime of the middle-classes?
I’ll be putting a series of questions: is digital trying to fix outdated modes of democracy?
Are people getting increasingly detached from politics and do they feel that democratic structures are impenetrable no matter how much politicians tweet?
Is civic tech an amusing pastime of the middle-classes? Or can communities co-design a better future for everyone using tech?
There are lots of clever people developing democratic and civic tools and apps to help people have a voice—but unless people have the skills to get online, and to use these apps, they will remain the preserve of the digitally confident.
I will be trying to answer some of these questions and discuss how our efforts can make maximum impact for most people most of the time – and leaving no-one behind.
And why should people be excited by this?
As the world becomes increasingly digitised, we cannot allow the chasm between the digital ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ to get any wider.
As the world becomes increasingly digitised, we cannot allow the chasm between the digital ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ to get any wider.
At Tinder Foundation, we’re committed to helping the 12.6 million people in the UK—and the next 3 billion around the world—who don’t have basic digital skills, and so who aren’t realising all of the benefits of the digital world.
My work as a Commissioner for the UK Parliament’s Digital Democracy Commission brought me up close to the barriers of history and culture looking from the inside out.
What are you hoping to get out of TICTeC?
Tinder Foundation’s ethos is very much about taking collaborative approach to extend our reach and ensure that our models of delivery are co-designed for social challenges, rather than assuming a one-size fits all approach.
I’m excited about being part of the conversation so that together we can ensure that democratic and civic technology is accessible to everybody in society.
Where does your passion for digital and social inclusion come from?
In the UK there are still a shocking 12 million people—and 3 billion worldwide—who lack the basic skills to use the internet and benefit.
I went to school in south London where I was educated alongside people from all different backgrounds and have always believed in equality of opportunity. In the UK however, there are still a shocking 12 million people – and 3 billion worldwide – who lack the basic skills to use the internet and benefit.
By not helping these millions and billions of people gain we are further marginalising the most disadvantaged people in society as well as making it less easy for them to have a voice.
My role on the Digital Democracy Commission presented recommendations about how everybody in society could engage with the democratic process via digital channels, for example the potential for online voting and a website to help make politics more accessible to those who aren’t currently engaging with politics (such as young people).
The commission also made a strong case for investing in digital skills training in order to ensure that people can participate with a more digitised political system in future, and the same goes for civic tech.
If you could make one recommendation to those developing new civic tech, and wanting to see real impact from it, what would it be?
Civic tech is about more than just technology—its evolution should be driven by a desire to include everyone and empowering everyone to participate in decision-making about matters that impact on them: community, housing, education, transport, the environment, budgets, et al.
Unless there is a shared commitment towards ensuring everyone can engage with democratic and civic tech, the power to influence change in society will continue to be held in the hands of a committed few.
You won’t want to miss what Helen has to say at TICTeC, so make sure you book your tickets now. Earlybird pricing runs until February 19.
How is the data explosion transforming our world?
That’s the question that inspires the Big Bang Data exhibition, running from today until February 28 at Somerset House in London.
Alongside all kinds of data displays, data-inspired artwork and data-based innovations, the exhibition features our very own FixMyStreet and TheyWorkForYou as examples of websites that are using data for the common good.
The exhibits range from fun to thought-provoking to visually rather beautiful: we enjoyed Nicholas Felton‘s annual reports about himself, the Dear Data project, and innovative devices such as the fitness tracker for dogs. Most of all, of course, we enjoyed seeing our very own websites put into context and available for everyone to have a go with.
We’re delighted to have been included in this event, and we recommend a visit if you’re in the area. There’s plenty to keep you interested and informed for a good hour or two.
Last year’s TICTeC saw a huge range of subject matter, including:
- Keynotes from leaders in the field, Shelley Boulianne and Ethan Zuckerman
- Experimenting with Facebook ads in Kenya, to see whether users could be encouraged to take a political action
- A look at the demographics of who uses online democracy tools across different countries
- A donor’s perspective on what makes for successful civic technology
- And even crowdsourcing a map of public toilets in the UK
Session leaders included representatives from MIT, the Oxford Internet Institute, the World Bank and even the Royal College of Art.
If your research is just as interesting, and touches on the impacts of civic technology anywhere in the world, we’d love to hear from you.
Oh, and did we tell you it’s in Barcelona? In spring time?
Speakers will have free entry to the conference, and there’s also the chance for all attendees to be considered for travel grants.
Still not sure? Check out videos, photos and slide decks from last year’s TICTeC.
As ever with Mozilla’s annual, hands-on festival, there was a lot going on in London’s Ravensbourne, a venue that’s especially conducive to mixing and meeting.
MozFest attracts an active and positive crowd of digital people, ranging from junior-school coder kids right through to hoary old digital campaigners. So we were delighted to meet up with old friends and make new ones, especially as some of them had travelled for afar to be there. London was fortunate once again to be hosting the event, since Mozilla is of course an international organisation. And as our main focus at this year’s event was EveryPolitician — “data about every national legislature in the world, freely available for you to use” — that international aspect was especially welcome.
As a result of our being there, we hope that lots more people know about EveryPolitician’s data, and that some of them are going to build or do amazing things with it. We’re still adding to our data, so we’d love your help: we have data on at least the current term of the top-level legislatures of most of the countries in the world. But we’d still love your help with finding good sources for the remaining few, as well as our ongoing task of going wider (adding more details about the politicians we do have) and deeper (adding historic data from previous terms).
If, in the spirit of digital do-ism that infuses MozFest, you do make something useful or funky with EveryPolitician’s data, do please let us know. We make sure all this lovely data is available to you in a consistent way (that not only means the delivery formats of CSV or JSON Popolo, but also that we adopt reliable conventions about the way we use them). This maximises the likelihood that, when you share that thing you’ve built using the data for your country, people in other places will be able to easily adopt it to work with the data for theirs. And that’s why, if you’ve made something amazing, we’d like to know — so we can shout about it.
Finally: thanks to the people who made MozFest run so smoothly this year, and the spirit of the open web. See you next year!
Image: Mozilla Festival CC BY 2.0
We’ll be at the Open Government Partnership Global Summit on October 27-29.
It’s one of the biggest events of the year within our sector, focusing on transparency, accountability, citizen participation and innovation, so we know it’ll be a great chance to spread the word about our work, and catch up with friends from all over the world.
We’re there with two main purposes.
Launching our latest research
On Wednesday 28th October at 4pm, Rebecca will be hosting a session titled Researching the Real-World Impact of Digital Democracy. The Open Knowledge Foundation will be joining us, to present recent research they’ve conducted into open data and data literacy.
We’ll also be launching our own report on the demographics of civic tech users, highlighting how the kind of tools we make are used by different groups around the world, and the opportunities and challenges that this presents to civic technologists and open government advocates.
Can’t make it to Mexico City? No problem: we’ll simultaneously be publishing the research here on the mySociety website. Yes, that’s right, we’re staging an international live link-up… in our own small way.
Showcasing our software
With so many people in one place, all with a very specific interest in our kind of work, we jumped at the chance to exhibit at the Open Fair. Paul and Gemma will be there, showcasing some of our projects and tools that promote transparency and help with parliamentary monitoring.
We’re really looking forward to the event. If you’re going too, we hope you’ll come and say hello.
Want to know who else is going?
It’s always useful to know who’ll be around, so you can see who you want to catch up with. We’ve started this crowd-sourced spreadsheet: do feel free to add yourself.
Our meet-ups are open to everyone. Come along if you’re interested in hearing more about inspiring tech projects in Bristol and beyond, and if you fancy having a drink with the following guest speakers:-
Paul Wilson and Professor Dimitra Simeonidou, Bristol Is Open:
Paul and Dimitra will speak about Bristol Is Open and its mission of creating an open programmable city region that gives citizens more ways to participate-in and contribute-to the way their city works. Find out more about the project here: http://www.bristolisopen.com/
Mike Dunn, Sift Digital:
Mike is a UX consultant with Sift Digital in Bristol. The Bristol Pound is an local alternative currency designed to benefit independent businesses. They’re trying to get us to completely rethink where our money goes. Mike will talk about how he put together a lightweight programme of user research and digital strategy work to suit their (very) limited budget, and why digital people should use their powers to do good.
Ben Fowkes, Delib:
Ben leads the consultancy team at digital democracy company, Delib, where he helps governments tackle tricky initiatives that require input from citizens. Ben will be giving a talk about his recent trip around the US which saw him visit large swathes of government, universities and hallowed ground like Civic Hall in New York, to attempt to answer the question – ‘What is Civic Tech?’. He’ll explore the differences and indeed, the similarities, between the respective countries and look at larger trends and opportunities from the other side of the pond.
Our very own Ben Nickolls:
Ben heads up the mySociety Services team. He’ll talk about some of the innovative digital projects we’ve been working on recently to help local government and other institutions better serve the public.
They’ll be some other speakers too; which we’ll add to the meet-up’s Lanyrd page in due course.
So, we hope to see you there!
When: Thursday 23rd July 2015, drop in any time between 7pm and 10pm
Where: The Royal Navy Volunteer pub function room, 17-18 King St, Harbourside, Bristol , BS1 4EF
How: Add your name to the Lanyrd page: http://lanyrd.com/2015/mysociety-friends-meet-up/, so we know you’re coming.
Who: Anyone who fancies it.
NB: Watch our Twitter stream on @mySociety to check for last minute advice about where we are sitting or if we have moved venues for unforseen reasons.
The mySociety Services team will be attending this year’s Channel Shift Conference on 17th June in London. We’d love to see you there, and we’d be happy to talk about your needs.
Local authorities using FixMyStreet for Councils have reported a shift of up to 300% from phone to online reporting. Why? Because when online reporting systems are this easy, phone contact plummets.
So we know how important channel shift is for councils, and we can help you achieve it. With central government calling on local councils to lead the way in cost-cutting via digital technologies, we know there’s great pressure to deliver services on an ever-lower budget.
The solution doesn’t have to be a lengthy and costly tie-in with a big provider, however. FixMyStreet For Councils shows how small independents can provide everything your clients need, with no long-running, over-priced framework agreements.
Come and have a chat and we’ll show you how other councils have implemented our services. We can answer all your questions about back-end integration, mobile apps and how we can tailor FixMyStreet to your needs.
We look forward to joining attendees from Central and Local Government, Housing, Police and the Private Sector, to discuss channel shift best practices. The conference will focus on overcoming key barriers, such as: culture change, integrating front-end to back-end systems, effective business process mapping, and demonstrating and promoting channel shift success.
Many of our services are tried and tested catalysts for shifting citizen contact online. We’ll be demonstrating the channel shift success we’ve had with our council clients, and showing how you can replicate that success with your own implementation.
Here is some more information about the conference:
- Chair: James Rolfe, Director of Finance, Resources and Customer Services, Enfield Council
- Keynote: Danny McLaughlin, Digital Service Manager, Department for Work and Pensions
- Steve Halliday, Chief Information Officer, Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council and Past President, Socitm
- Julie Robinson, Director of Resources, Watford Community Housing Trust
- Boris Worrall, Executive Director Futures, Orbit Group – Futures
- Ian Simons, Group Head of Social Media, RSA Insurance
- Natalie Proffitt, Head of Digital Media Services, Leicestershire Police
- Barry May, Head of Customer Services, London Borough of Camden
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org / 020 7202 0571
The second international Alaveteli conference
Venue: Impact Hub Next, C/ Alameda 22, Madrid 28014
There’s no other conference like it. If you’re involved with Freedom of Information technologies, you’ll want to be at AlaveteliCon, the only event with a specific focus on FOI in the internet age.
AlaveteliCon brings together civic society organisations and individuals from around the world. All have one thing in common: an interest in online Right To Know tools.
Interested? Keep reading and apply below!
Yesterday was our conference on the Impacts of Civic Technology, and what a packed day it was.
Don’t worry if you missed anything, though: we now have videos, interviews, photos and blog posts for you to digest at your leisure.
Meanwhile, you might like to browse through the #TICTec hashtag on Twitter, where many delegates shared their thoughts and insights in real time.
Thanks to everyone who came and made TICTeC into such a rich, useful and thought-provoking day. It wouldn’t have been the same without you.
We’re expecting 109 people from 26 different countries and 69 different organisations – all with a common interest in discussing and understanding more about the impact of civic tech.
You can see the full agenda here, and don’t worry if you didn’t manage to get a ticket: we’ll be documenting everything in full.
- For the as-it-happens picture, keep an eye on the Lanyrd page throughout tomorrow.
- We’ll be following up with summaries, podcasts, photos and videos right here on the mySociety blog.
- Be sure to tag your social media with #tictec and we’ll also document the best of that.
See you tomorrow!