When you realise that borrowing ideas is not a sign of weakness, but as Bloomberg Philanthropies‘ James Anderson puts it ‘a badge of honour’, you can really maximise the benefits for cities — and their citizens — around the world.
That’s the thinking behind the Government Innovation programs James heads up: despite the diversity of the world’s cities, it’s undeniable that they are facing many of the same problems, from climate change to low civic participation, from pollution to health issues.
If a scheme in one city is driving forward sustainability, growth or efficiency, why expect others to reinvent the wheel hundreds of times? It makes perfect sense to pass on the findings about what works and what doesn’t to other cities facing similar issues.
Among other initiatives, James is responsible for forging a global network of mayors in 290 cities across 25 countries, to share knowledge and technology around areas as diverse as bike-sharing schemes, measures against childhood obesity and urban sprawl, tackling corruption, encouraging recycling, and many many more.
You can tap into Bloomberg Philanthropies’ vision and James’ own hands-on experience by coming to our conference on the impacts of civic technology, TICTeC. James is the second of our keynote speakers (see Alessandro Orofino, our other keynote here), and we know that he’ll be offering inspirational and tangible takeaways from a perspective that’s highly relevant for our times.
Make sure you don’t miss out: book your ticket to TICTeC now.
Need a bit of inspiration in these turbulent political times? You’ll get it in spades from ‘urban activist’ Alessandra Orofino, the first of our confirmed keynote speakers for TICTeC 2019.
Founder of Meu Rio (My Rio), Alessandra hasn’t just brought about change herself; she first gave 160,000 residents in her native city of Rio de Janeiro the power to do it for themselves, with an array of digital tools that facilitate campaigns, civic engagement and participation, and then went on to found the even more ambitious Nossas to unroll similar initiatives across several other Brazilian cities.
Each calls itself a network of inclusion for a more democratic, inclusive and sustainable city, allowing people to organise around causes and places they care about. The vast majority of its members are in their twenties — as is Alessandra herself.
At mySociety, we talk a lot about giving people the tools they need to be active citizens, and Nossas is a shining example of what you can achieve on that front. Stacy Donahue of Luminate — the philanthropic organisation supporting technology that empowers people and institutions to build just and fair societies — thinks so too, calling Alessandra an inspiring role model amongst investees.
Meu Rio saw early successes such as preventing a school from being replaced by a carpark for the World Cup; and the introduction of a new missing persons system for the police, to deal with a chronic lack of information around a major issue for the city. Now, similar breakthroughs are being made on a regular basis by its sister organisations under the Nossas banner.
If this can be done for cities as large and diverse as Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Porto Alegre and São Paulo, then why not everywhere? Book your ticket for TICTeC now, and learn what it will take to empower citizens in your own locality — directly from one who has done it herself.
Thanks to the kind support of FutureGov, we have a set number of sponsored places for public sector attendees — at no cost. If you work in the public sector and can commit to attending please choose the ‘Public Sector Sponsored Tickets’ option on Eventbrite.
With a heady blend of innovators from within government, and external practitioners who are driving social change, TICTeC Local is going to be like nothing we’ve ever seen before in the sector.
We’ve already announced many of the speakers, including Paul Maltby, Chief Digital Officer at the Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government, and Beatrice Karol Burks, Director at Futuregov.
Now here are a few more of the movers and shakers who’ll be inspiring you:
Chief Digital Officer for London
Theo is London’s first Chief Digital Officer. His job is to transform the capital into the world’s smartest city, and to make public services more accessible, efficient and responsive to the needs of Londoners.
Previously with Camden council, Theo was credited with bringing it the title of ‘leading digital borough’ thanks to its use of public data; he has also worked at GovTech accelerator Public Group.
Head of Local Digital Collaboration Unit, Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
Leading this relatively new unit, Linda aims to disrupt the local government IT market and stimulate the move towards interoperability standards for local services. She has a background with Government Digital Service and was also the founder of Thinking Development, an NGO created in response to Haiti’s 2010 earthquake.
Deputy CEO and digital transformation lead, Wigan Council
Advocating ‘digital by default’ strategies wherever possible, Alison is widely seen as the reason Wigan council was named as LGC Digital Council of the year; she’s known for embracing cutting-edge technologies in the pursuit of better public services, and happily collaborates with other authorities to help everyone innovate for good.
Director of Government Innovation, Nesta
Eddie works with city data analytics, behavioural insights, digital government, collaborative platforms and digital democracy for Nesta, the global innovation foundation. He is an advocate of government and public sector organisations making smarter use of people, data and technology to deliver more and better with less.
Co-founder & managing director at Snook
Innovating through research, strategy, design and delivery, Snook only works on projects that will have a meaningful impact on society. That’s led them into designing tech for fishermen, domestic abuse survivors, cyclists and plenty more. Sarah was awarded a Google Fellowship for her work in technology and democratic innovation and named as one of Good magazine’s 100 extraordinary individuals tackling global issues in creative ways.
Research, Engagement and Communities Team Lead, The Engine Room
Zara has worked in over twenty countries in the field of information accessibility and data use among civil society. Now, with social change NGO The Engine Room, she works with communities and organisations to help understand how new uses of data can responsibly strengthen their work.
Strategic Head: Policy & Information Services, Stockport Council
Stockport Council is working, under the banner of the Digital Stockport project, to improve the customer experience through the use of online technologies. Steve leads organisational and place-based strategy, and the Digital by Design programme. He sits on the @GMCADigital Steering Group and is prototyping a Greater Manchester Office of Data Analytics.
Lead Consultant, Shaping Cloud
Defining the use of cloud within central and local government to re-imagine the way services are delivered, Shaping Cloud informs and advises on digital transformation. Helen brings prior experience as a CIO and Director in the public sector.
Open Data Manchester
Open Data Manchester is an association for people who are interested in realising the potential of data to benefit citizens, business and public bodies. Previously with FutureEverything, Julian led the Open Data Cities programme, bringing about a change in the way that public bodies within Greater Manchester use data.
IF helps organisations to earn the trust of their users when it comes to data, advising on design and security, and always with a focus on ethical practice.
As IF’s inhouse designer, Maria is well-placed to explain how good design can play a critical part in this mission.
Founder & CEO, Shift
Shift is an award-winning charity, designing products and building social ventures for social change. Nick was named one of Britain’s 50 New Radicals by The Observer and NESTA and is a board member of the Centre for the Acceleration of Social Technology.
Don’t miss TICTeC Local
There’s more information about TICTeC Local on the main TICTeC website.
Tuesday 6 November sees the first ever TICTeC Local, a one day conference examining Civic Tech at the cutting edge of local government.
mySociety’s annual TICTeC conference has already established itself as the must-attend event for the Civic Tech community. Now TICTeC Local promises the same opportunities for learning, networking and take-home lessons — for Local Government. If you have an interest in how technology is changing the ways citizens interact with councils and city governments, this conference is for you.
Where Civic Tech meets Local Government
The schedule is shaping up nicely for a full day of commentary and presentations from inspiring thinkers.
They are a blend of hands-on Civic Tech practitioners, and representatives from the authorities, both in the UK and abroad, who are transforming local services at the grassroots level.
Here’s a run-down of the speakers confirmed so far.
Chief Digital Officer, Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government
As Director of Data at the Government Digital Service (GDS), Paul led a cross-government programme designed to improve the way government approaches, uses and handles data. He’s now brought his insights to Local Government, as CDO at MHCLG. No-one is better placed to give us the ‘state of the nation’ when it comes to how digital technologies can transform citizen-government interactions.
Head of Democracy, Kirklees Council
Carl is known for innovative approaches to service delivery, citizen engagement and governance. His passion for local democracy is demonstrated by his role in establishing Notwestminster, a national network where people can share ideas for improving local democracy.
José María Becerra González
Consul project, Madrid City Council
Consul is a free citizen participation tool which fosters transparency and democracy in local government. It’s being used in 18 countries around the world to give citizens a say in the decisions that shape their communities.
Data and Information Systems Technical Architect, Lincolnshire County Council
Lincolnshire Council are the latest to integrate with fault-reporting service FixMyStreet, as part of a council-wide strategy to shift to digital.
From Civic Tech
Anthony Zacharzewski and Michelle Brook
The Democratic Society
The Democratic Society (Demsoc) works for more and better democracy, helping governments that want to involve citizens in decision-making to be transparent, open and welcoming of participation. Anthony founded DemSoc in 2006 after 14 years in strategic roles in UK central and local government; and as Managing Director, Michelle leads on the organisation’s research projects.
Beatrice Karol Burks
Studio Director, FutureGov
FutureGov seeks to reform public services by supporting organisations through digital transformation and service design. Over the past ten years, they’ve helped more than 100 local and national authorities over four continents think differently about public services.
Co-founder, New Citizenship Project
Jon co-founded this social innovation lab in 2014, to help catalyse the shift to a more participatory society. The New Citizenship Project works with all types of organisations to engage people as citizens, working with tools as varied as documentary films to setting up new social enterprises.
Ex of Government Digital Service and City Hall London where she established The London Data Store, Emer is now helping to build The Federation, an open community of digital businesses & innovators, built on co-operative values, in the heart of Manchester.
Don’t miss TICTeC Local
There’s more information about TICTeC Local on the main TICTeC website.
We’re delighted to be hosting the first TICTeC Local conference in Manchester on 6th November 2018.
TICTeC Local is a spinoff from our global The Impacts of Civic Technology Conference, which is now in its fifth successful year.
This event will narrow the lens, focusing on where and how civic tech connects with and impacts Local Government, rather than the international focus we have with our global TICTeC events.
We’ll be examining what works and why, the challenges and ethical decisions involved in using civic tech and how these initiatives can be replicated by local authorities around the UK.
We’ll hear from many local authorities and civic tech practitioners in the UK and further afield who are leading the way on using technology to improve civic participation, streamline citizen interaction with public bodies, and create efficiencies in civic budgets.
If you work in or around the local authority or local public institution space, and have an interest in using digital tools, then do come and join us in Manchester.
You will leave inspired by some of our showcased projects, you’ll have a better understanding of the most effective digital tools, and you’ll have met interesting people who are on a similar journey, or who might be able to help you in developing your digital capacity in the future.
We’ll be announcing speakers and contributors over the next couple of weeks.
We’re delighted to announce that TICTeC 2019, our fifth conference on the Impacts of Civic Technology, will be in Paris on 19 and 20 March 2019.
Stick that in your diaries now, we’d love for you to join us.
TICTeC is an annual milestone in the Civic Tech world, bringing together researchers, practitioners, and all those with an interest in how technology is changing the way we engage with society.
Primarily, the goal of TICTeC is to promote and share rigorous and meaningful research into civic technologies and digital democracy around the world. The conference facilitates discussion and networking amongst individuals and groups to find real-world solutions through sharing evidence of impact, and (importantly) evidence of what doesn’t work.
Call for Papers now open
If you’d like to give a presentation or run a workshop at TICTeC 2019, please submit your proposals now. You have until Friday 11th January 2019.
For the last two 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 8th February 2019.
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 firstname.lastname@example.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 Paris! Meanwhile, if you’d like to see what TICTeC is all about, you can browse all the resources from this year’s TICTeC and/or watch this video overview:
Back in April, we hosted the fourth edition of our research conference The Impacts of Civic Technology Conference (TICTeC) in Lisbon, Portugal.
We were thrilled to bring together 150 leaders in the field from 29 countries to take stock of the civic technology research landscape and to discuss what works and what doesn’t when it comes to using technology for social good.
62 speakers from 19 countries covered topics such as: responsible technology; accountability keywords; blockchain; fact-checking; service delivery; bridging the civic tech research divide; working with governments; impact measurement; open contracting; amongst many, many others. Thank you to everyone involved for sharing your experiences and research.
If you weren’t able to attend (or indeed if you’d like to experience it all again), do check out the TICTeC website to see videos of all conference sessions, interviews with delegates, photos, and slides where available.
As a taster, here’s an overview of the whole event… in just two minutes:
Running on April 18-19 in Lisbon, TICTEC will, as usual, provide an unparalleled opportunity to meet the people building and using Civic Technologies that improve lives, solve problems and address social ills. The schedule is now on the TICTeC website, where you can also get acquainted with this year’s speakers.
Keynotes Martha Lane Fox and Prof Jonathan Fox will set the tone for a full programme, with speakers and delegates including representatives from Google, Facebook, and scores of cutting edge practitioners from many countries.
This will be your chance to hear from recently-elected French MP Paula Forteza; and Civic Tech thinkers from MIT, NYU and UCL. More international angles are added by representatives from Buenos Aires City Government, Rome’s ‘Roma Capitale’ initiative, and several speakers from Nigeria whose attendance has been made possible thanks to a grant from the MacArthur foundation.
During two days of diverse presentations and workshops, attendees will examine what works — and what doesn’t — in the fields of digital democracy, accountability, anti-corruption and transparency tech. There’s just one rule for those making a presentation at TICTeC: it’s not enough to present a new digital initiative; you must also bring the research that enquires into its efficacy.
A few tickets are still available, but hurry — we’re nearly sold out.
Don’t worry too much if you can’t attend in person. Every session will be filmed, with videos shared online after the event. Keep an eye on the mySociety blog or YouTube channel to be the first to know when they’re available — or sign up for the newsletter. To track the conference in real time, follow the hashtag #TICTeC.
TICTeC2018 in Lisbon is going to be amazing, and we can say that with confidence.
Not just because we know that it’ll feature the usual blend of insights from all sorts of people at the cutting edge of Civic Technology; and not just because it will afford the usual opportunities for swapping stories with others in your field, all against the backdrop of Portugal’s lovely capital.
Giving us even more assurance that TICTeC2018 will be one of the most memorable yet, are our two must-hear keynote speakers. As Gemma has already announced, Professor Jonathan Fox and Martha Lane Fox will be kicking off the proceedings each day — and they have more than their vulpine names in common: you can be sure that they’ll each be delivering some truly thought-provoking insights for those in the field of Civic Tech.
To give you a small taste of that, we had a chat with Jonathan about his keynote, which will be on the topic of the political construction of accountability keywords.
Not to ‘spoiler’ your keynote, but could you give an example of the kind of keywords you’ll be focusing on?
Our words inform messaging, which is key to building broad constituencies for change.
Key terms in the field of accountability practice are both politically constructed — and contested.
For example, sometimes pro-public accountability forces lose the battle for what keywords mean. Consider the term “fake news” — during the 2016 US presidential campaign, this term was used to push back against the political use of disinformation.
Not only was this effort unsuccessful, the term itself was then appropriated and twisted by its original targets. Now the dominant use of the term “fake news” (not only in the US) is to undermine the credibility of independent investigative reporting.
The idea of analysing keywords to shed light on contested meanings draws on a long tradition in cultural studies, most notably a 1976 book by Raymond Williams. In this approach, a keyword is “a socially prominent word (e.g. art, industry, media or society) that is capable of bearing interlocking, yet sometimes contradictory and commonly contested contemporary meaning.” You can see more about this on the University of Pittsburgh’s Keywords Project.
Why do words matter so much, when some people might feel that action is a priority?
The real question about the viability of any term is whether it effectively communicates its meaning to its intended audience.
Accountability keywords have different meanings, to different actors, in different contexts — and in different languages.
The resulting ambiguity can either constrain or enable diverse strategies for promoting public accountability. This is relevant for action because our words inform messaging, which is key to building broad constituencies for change.
What led you to this precise area of research?
I have long been curious about the most appropriate way to communicate ideas about accountability across languages and cultures.
It is easy to become frustrated when literal translations sound awkward or fail to communicate. This led me to explore alternative communication strategies, looking to learn from examples of invented terms that manage to take off and enter everyday discourse (like “whistleblower”), or terms that come from popular cultures than can be relevant.
We’re delighted that you’ll be one of our two keynotes at TICTeC. What are you most looking forward to about the event?
I very much look forward to catching up on cutting edge research, learning from TICTeC participants.
I very much look forward to catching up on cutting edge research, learning from TICTeC participants — and finding out whether and how the ideas that I am working with might resonate.
For example, I am trying out an invented term that is intended to question the researcher-practitioner dichotomy in which researchers are assumed to be the knowledge producers and practitioners are cast as the knowledge consumers… In an effort to recognise more explicitly how practitioners can also be knowledge producers, I am proposing the term “action strategist.”
TICTeC is attended by activists, funders, academics, government organisations and representatives from the private sector — all working within the field that we label as Civic Tech. First: since you’ve given so much thought to terminology: would you say ‘Civic Tech’ is a satisfactory term for what we do? And second, what one piece of advice would you give us all when it comes to naming and talking about our work?
Yes, I think the term does work. My first reaction was to think that it has the advantage of being fairly self-explanatory — though a quick search finds some important differences in interpretation.
But the real question about the viability of any term is whether it effectively communicates its meaning to its intended audience.
Thanks to Jonathan for this preview of his keynote presentation. If you’d like to hear more on this topic, make sure to book your tickets soon, while the early bird price still applies.
Or perhaps you’d like to present your own research into the impacts of a Civic Technology that you’ve been studying? Our Call For Papers is still open, but hurry: there’s just over a week to get your proposal in.
We’re really looking forward to heading out to Lisbon in April, for our fourth Impacts of Civic Technology Conference (TICTeC) — and you will be too, once you hear who our keynote speakers are!
Drumroll please… as we introduce:
Martha Lane Fox
Martha is the founder and executive chair of Doteveryone, a think tank fighting for a fairer internet. She co-founded Europe’s largest travel and leisure website, lastminute.com, with Brent Hoberman in 1998; they took it public in 2000 and sold it in 2005. In 2007 she founded her own charitable foundation Antigens and also serves as a Patron of AbilityNet, Reprieve, Camfed and Just for Kids Law.
Martha was appointed as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords in March 2013, and was appointed Chancellor of the Open University in March 2014. In 2015 she joined the board of the Creative Industries Federation, the Scale up institute and the Open Data Institute, and became a member of the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy in 2017.
She is a non-executive director at the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and in April 2016 was appointed as a non executive director of Twitter. She also co-founded and chairs LuckyVoice, the chain that’s revolutionising the karaoke industry in the UK.
Professor Jonathan Fox
Jonathan is a Professor at the American University’s School of International Service, focusing on the relationship between citizen participation, transparency and accountability, from both scholarly and practitioner perspectives.
He has carried out extensive research in rural Mexico, and with Latino immigrant organisations in the US, conducting dialogue with a wide range of public interest groups, grassroots organisations, development agencies, private foundations and government policymakers. Jonathan’s current project? He’s launching a new “action-research incubator” at SIS: the Accountability Research Center.
Here at mySociety, Johnathan’s research work has always been an inspiration. If you’re not familiar with his work we can recommend a short reading list:
- The uncertain relationship between transparency and accountability (2007)
- Social Accountability – what does the evidence really say? (2015)
- When does ICT-enabled citizen voice lead to government responsiveness? (2015)
And if you’d like to read more about Jonathan and his work, you can visit his blog.
Fancy speaking at TICTeC? There’s still time to apply
Our Call for Papers is open until 2nd February, so do submit a proposal if you’d like to join Martha and Jonathan on the bill.
We’re looking for session proposals that focus on the specific impacts of Civic Technologies, rather than showcase new tools that are as yet untested.
We will prioritise proposals that can demonstrate data or evidence of how Civic Technology has been impactful in some way. We encourage presentations that examine negative results as well as research evidencing positive outcomes!
So if you have research to share, then do submit your proposal here.
If your work touches on Civic Technology and open government, and you need a fast-track to understanding what works and what doesn’t, you’ll want to join us in Lisbon. Previous attendees attest that time spent with others in the sector has been every bit as useful as the conference itself — we make sure there’s plenty of time in the evenings for socialising. Roll that in with the lovely location, and you have a package that’s both professionally rewarding, and a lot of fun too. Register to attend here.
Early bird tickets are available until 9th March, which provide a 50% discount on regularly priced tickets.
Past TICTeCs have sold out, so do make sure you book in early!