Open Collective
Open Collective

Civic Tech Field Guide

Productively growing the field of civic tech

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News from Civic Tech Field Guide

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We're rebuilding the Civic Tech Field Guide

Hello friends, In case you missed our presentation at Code for All Summit, we're in the process of rebuilding our directory of nearly 5,000 tech for good projects. You can...
Read more
Published on January 10, 2022 by Matt Stempeck

About


The Civic Tech Field Guide is a crowdsourced, global collection of tech for good tools and projects. It’s your place to find and be found. You can learn about the original motivations for this project here.

Thousands of civic tech practitioners from over 100 countries around the world have contributed to this living resource. We catalog not only the tools, but also the social side of our field: the conferences, funders, awards, design principles and playbooks.

It’s a free, and Creative-Commons-licensed collection curated to help you in your work. Whether you want to add your own project(s), learn from others’, or research our field, we invite you to explore the field.

The Civic Tech Field Guide is curated by Matt Stempeck and people like you. Technical development and fiscal sponsorship is generously provided by Devin Balkind and Sarapis.

Acknowledgements

The Field Guide is an independent project that has been supported by Knight Foundation, Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, and Luminate. Civic Hall is our Founding Organization. Micah Sifry was instrumental in growing the Guide from its original Google Sheet beginnings, and Erin Simpson helped create the first version of this guide.

We benefit from expert curators who help us stay apprised of their areas of expertise and domains within civic tech. They are:

Drones for Good: Fatima Sarah Khalid
Get social benefits: Greg Bloom
Civic data: Deblina Mukherjee
Connectivity: Georgia Bullen
Promise trackers: Farhad Souzanchi

Colombia: Juliana Uribe Villegas
Iran: Feiredoon Bashar and ASL19
Chile: Auska Ovando
Poland: Aleksandra Kamihska
Paris and France: Clémence Pène
Australia: The Code for Australia team
South Africa: Melissa Zisengwe and Lailah Ryklief
Tunisia: Wafa Ben-Hassine
United Kingdom: Gemma Humphrys and the mySociety team
México: Alma Rangel and the Codeando México team
Washington, DC: Meag Doherty
Thailand: Opendream

Guiding Principles


Why ‘civic tech’?
E-democracy had its day, but as field-builder Tom Steinberg wrote back in 2014, civic tech won the name game. And we define civic tech simply as the use of technology for the public good. It includes but is not limited to efforts to enable interaction between people and their governments or improve government service delivery (i.e. govtech). Civic tech is tech that empowers people to have more agency and more of a role in the decisions that affect their lives, as well as tech that helps address public challenges and needs. We believe that anyone, not just people with advanced degrees, can both use and advocate for the use of tech for the public good. We also recognize, as noted by the 2018 #MoreThanCode report, that others using tech for the public good may prefer to refer to their work as “community tech” or “tech for good,” among other terms.

Free
The Civic Tech Field Guide has always been and will always be free of charge.

Open
We collect, curate, and produce information to help grow the field of civic tech in productive directions. For this reason, the entire collection is Creative Commons licensed. We ask only that you attribute the Field Guide with a link back to the site in a visible location, and that you use it for non-commercial purposes only. (Creative Commons BY NC SA 4.0).

Our data is available via Airtable and bulk export on request. Please simply get in touch with us if you’d like to use it and aren't able to find what you need.

Too cheap to fail
We have seen too many similar efforts invest large amounts of resources into developing a flashy custom platform, and then run out of budget and go offline a few years later. We chose to build the Civic Tech Field Guide on open source technologies. Our goal is to stay around for years to come so that people can continue benefiting from the contents of the Guide.

Crowdsourced
The success of the Guide depends on the civic tech community contributing their knowledge back into it. We welcome contributions, be they individual project submisssions, curating a section, or sharing entire datasets.

Global
We aspire to global coverage of the field of civic tech. Wherever possible we retain projects’ original language in their profiles, and will offer translation tools. We believe there is too much to be learned from one another to artificially limit our scope to one country or region.

Specific
We intentionally catalog civic tech at the project level. There are many nonprofit directories. Rather than rebuild these, our goal is to help people discover specific projects and products that will be useful as resources, tools, partners, inspiration, or precedents.

Inclusive
Wherever possible, we collect more project examples, rather than fewer. We could limit this collection to open source tools only, for example, or only free tools. But if you’re someone looking at related products or services, like SMS campaign tools, for example, you’d probably see all of the relevant competitors, rather than a small subset.

Lessons learned
It’s not always popular, but we believe it’s worth tracking the projects that are no longer with us. There are many reasons projects are shut down, but together with the Internet Archive, we believe future generations of civic technologists deserve to know what they were, and ideally, why they failed. This is why we advocate for a postmortem culture in civic tech.

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