Civic Tech Roundup: January 11, 2017

Seattle happenings

  • GovTech published a new piece summarizing the City’s snow “hackathon” on December 15th. As the City makes any updates to snow preparedness on the technology front, we will keep you posted here.


National news

  • Uber teased a new website, Movement, that visualizes its traffic data for ease of exploration by transportation professionals, urban planners, and the general public. (TechCrunch)
  • The White House published a report called “Try This at Home” that shares its best practices from the last 8 years of government innovation, for possible implementation at the state and local level. (White House)
  • The City of Long Beach just released 100 new spatial datasets on a new, location-centric open data portal, DataLB. The portal offers a number of easy-to-explore maps and other contextual information. (RouteFifty)


New tools

  • The “Party of Lincoln” app is getting a lot of attention this week, though it was released in September. It claims to be a non-partisan resource guide that facilitates voter registration, changes to party affiliation, and a resource for information on candidates and measures. It joins a growing collection of applications designed to facilitate engagement with the political process.
  • D-CENT describes itself as “a Europe-wide project creating open, secure and privacy-aware tools for direct democracy and economic empowerment.” Tools in use include a participatory budgeting platform in Reykjavik, a notification platform in Helsinki, and policy development platforms in Barcelona and Madrid, as well as electronic voting and other cutting-edge ideas. The project is a partnership of a number of European organizations, including UK innovation foundation Nesta and the Open Knowledge Foundation.



  • Vicki Sellick, Director of the Innovation Lab at Nesta, wrote that volunteering from home is about to become as common as working from home. Technology is opening opportunities for volunteerism, both for technology builders (such Red Cross volunteers mapping the Ebola crisis from oceans away) and for casual users (such as peer-to-peer support networks and tutoring via the web or SMS). She also notes the ways people can “donate” data for good causes, linking to a number of existing and upcoming opportunities. (Nesta)
  • Fast Company interviewed Ariel Kennan, a designer at the City of New York, for its “Designing Women” series. Kennan, an alum of the Code for America Fellowship program, works in the City’s Center for Economic Opportunity. She has worked on projects like the City’s new street homelessness initiative, HOME-STAT, as well as deeper efforts to build design capacity across the City. (Fast Company)
  • GovTech released a “Year in Tech” review, spotlighting open data, civic engagement, expansion of tech in state and local governments, and big moves in the industry. It’s a quick roundup of all the major events of the year and a window into emerging trends. (GovTech)


Upcoming events

Community events with a civic tech component:

  • Wednesday, January 25, 10:00-11:30 am @ Impact Hub Seattle: “Community Cross-Pollinators: Technology + Social Impact.” Free. (RSVP)


If you’d like to suggest events or content, please email us at

Civic Tech News — What Works Cities Initiative in Seattle

Since 2015, the City of Seattle has been working quietly on a number of programs to make our government more data-driven, results-oriented, and innovative. We passed a new open data policy that balances transparency and privacy. We are shifting to a new model for performance management, both within the City and with our contractors. We are using design thinking to explore new approaches to big issues such as youth unemployment and homelessness, with a 5-person team in Mayor Murray’s Office of Policy & Innovation dedicated to one project at a time. What has made such big changes possible in such a short period of time? The common thread is Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Inspired by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s experiences using data and design thinking to improve that city, Bloomberg Philanthropies has created a number of initiatives that make it possible for other cities to explore what “works.” These include What Works Cities (hyperlink:, a national initiative for mid-sized cities to improve use of data and evidence in decision-making, and Innovation Teams (hyperlink: Under Mayor Murray’s leadership, our city is taking full advantage of both. Seattle is one of the pilot cities in What Works Cities and currently has an Innovation Team in its second year of operations.

What Works Cities Panel:
Chrissie Grover-Roybal, Tina Walha, Tyler Running Deer and Candace Faber


On May 26, Seattle IT hosted a panel discussion at the local Impact Hub to share the work these groups are doing with the broader public. The panel was moderated by Candace Faber, the City’s Civic Technology Advocate, and featured:

  • Tyler Running Deer, Seattle’s Organizational Performance Director, who has been leading the City of Seattle’s engagement under the What Works Cities program,
  • Chrissie Grover-Roybal, Innovation Fellow with the Government Performance Lab at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and
  • Tina Walha, Director of the Innovation Team in the Mayor’s Office of Policy and Innovation.


Over 60 people attended May 26 Event at Impact Hub

The City of Seattle joined What Works Cities in August 2015 as one of eight cities in the first national cohort, setting goals for three projects: to research and establish a Citywide Open Data policy and program; to design and develop a Citywide, central organizational performance program; and to explore, analyze, and establish a pilot results-driven contracting practice to improve the outputs and outcomes of contracted services to the public.


The first two projects are complete from the What Works Cities perspective, having now been institutionalized in the City through dedicated full-time positions in Seattle IT and the Mayor’s Office as well as new roles for existing staff across departments. The performance team is working on a strategic framework and a toolkit to help city departments better use data and information to manage services and programs, anticipated to be complete by mid-2016. The third project, led here by Chrissie Grover-Roybal, is still in progress, and reorients the structure and management of homeless services contracts to focus on improving outcomes for people experiencing homelessness.


The Innovation Team spent its first year examining strategies to increase access to opportunity and decrease the impact of violence among Seattle’s young Black men, ages 14 to 24. This year, the team will be focused on addressing Seattle’s homelessness crisis. To learn more about the Innovation Team, check out