What do we mean by "civic technology?"
Have you ever paid a parking ticket on your city's website? Applied for a business permit online? Perhaps you've used a mobile app to find out when the next bus or train is arriving at your stop? Has your library added a mobile application tied to your ILS so that patrons can browse new arrivals and be alerted to overdue materials?
These are all examples of civic technology -- the use of technology to improve how citizens, businesses, and other groups engage and conduct business with their government.
In small towns and large cities alike, civic technology is improving the relationship between citizens and their governments. At the federal, state, and local levels, government technologists are bringing the innovations of Silicon Valley to bear on the challenges and day-to-day matters on Main Street. Libraries, as well-respected local government entities, have an important role to play in their local civic tech ecosystem.
What role can my library play in our local civic tech scene?
Our libraries have the potential to be valuable anchors of their local civic tech ecosystem:
- partner with local agencies to permanently publish and archive data without regard for partisan concerns;
- offer data literacy training to patrons and staff alike seeking sources of reliable data for various projects;
- serve as a high-tech, high-touch public community center for additional civic technology efforts, such as providing community training classes for new government-backed technology initiatives;
- provide a neutral, comfortable physical space with high-speed Internet access for members of the local civic technology community to reliably meet and exchange ideas;
- serve as a trusted government entity with a long-term focus on the health of our communities for far-ranging or long-term projects.