Civic Tech Roundup: January 25, 2017

Seattle happenings

  • On January 17 and 18, the City of Seattle hosted a two-day workshop on “Big Data and Human Services” at City Hall, bringing in speakers and attendees from all over the country. (GeekWire)
  • Consider.It, the tool and company used by the City of Seattle to engage the community around the Mayor’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda (HALA), was profiled this week in GeekWire. (GeekWire)


National news

  • Big news for the civic technology world: According to Garrett Lansing, the new White House Chief Digital Officer, the U.S. Digital Service is “here to stay” – and so is acting administrator Matt Cutts, who recently quit his job at Google to stay in government. This answers one of the biggest questions the community had for the incoming administration, while raising many questions about what the agency will look like in the future, given that this is only the second administration – and first Republican administration – under which its employees will serve. (Politico)
  • Outgoing White House official Cecilia Munoz, who was behind projects such as the College Scorecard, is moving to New America, where she will create a national network for civic technologists. (StateScoop)


New tools

  • Cities across Europe and the U.S. are using technology to engage their publics in city planning. From CitySwipe (“Tinder for cities”) in Santa Monica to Flux Metro in Austin, local governments are hoping to make the change happening around people easier to influence and understand. (The Guardian)



  • Are bots the future of political activism? Carl Miller makes the case, in Wired. (Wired)
  • In “Hacking the Army,” Kate Conger explores one of the approaches the Defense Digital Service (part of the U.S. Digital Service) has taken to protecting the U.S. military against hacking attempts – “bug bounties,” contests for hackers to find vulnerabilities in the system before hostile agents do. Said outgoing Secretary of the Army in this article: “I have no better idea than you what will happen with the next administration, but I don’t think that the need for and the value of programs like this are really disputed by anybody.” (TechCrunch)
  • Researchers in the UK recently collaborated on a study of “what role digital technologies can play in helping to support people affected by domestic abuse.” Their just-released reports contain research findings as well as design principles, user experience maps, and suggested solutions that civic technologists could take on. All of it is available at; the funder, Comic Relief, is accepting proposals for potential tech solutions within the UK.
  • Knight-Mozilla Open News Fellow Lisa Rost recently gave a talk called “A Data Point Walks into a Bar” that directly addresses the connection between data and feelings and has some insights for anyone using data or data visualizations to communicate human experiences. (Chaos Computer Club)

  • Civicist presented “An Inclusive Vision for Democratic Technology,” calling out specific ways that technology makers can include historically marginalized populations. While the author is writing for a partisan audience, the suggestions could work for any organizations that works to engage diverse communities. (Civicist)


Upcoming events

Community events with a civic tech component:

  • Thursday, February 2, 11:45 am-1:00 pm at the Center for Architecture & Design, 1010 Western Ave: “Open Sidewalks: How Open to All?” is an opportunity to learn more about the Open Sidewalks project. Presented by the University of Washington Taskar Center for Accessible Technology, within the AIA exhibit “Open to All: Designing for the Full Range of Human Experience.” Free.

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

“Designing the Equitable City” Workshop at the Seattle Design Festival

Designing the Equitable City
SEPTEMBER 19, 2015
10:45 am – 1:00 pm, Seattle Central Library
1000 Fourth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98104
Fourth Floor Room 1, Washington Mutual Foundation Meeting Room

Four agencies from the City of Seattle present a workshop on visioning an equitable city.

Cities are spaces where diverse cultures, experiences, backgrounds, traditions and ways of being converge. They are nests for creative expression and offer pathways for unique and dynamic opportunities. Yet, although diversity is a clear asset to all cities, not all communities reap the same benefits of what a city has to offer.

In the wake of recent events that bring into focus racial iniquities and tensions, and with on-going patterns of displacement, lack of affordable safe housing, lack of transportation, food deserts, and lack of green space in communities of color it’s clear that the cities we have created are not designed to serve everyone. The good news is that design is man-made so we all have a part to play in re-designing for cities that uplift people of all races.

The City of Seattle has made a commitment to work towards social equity with an emphasis on racial equity, across all departments. In this workshop you will hear from the City of Seattle’s Office for Civil Rights, Seattle Design Commission, Seattle’s Planning Commission and the Office of Arts and Culture as they share the role that we as designers, urban planners, and artists play in creating a new equitable vision for our cities. There will be a panel of commissioners, design professionals, artists and staff who will share what is happening at a city-wide level to realize the City’s commitment to building a racially equitable Seattle, followed by an interactive brainstorming breakout session where we will all explore our own individual roles in visioning and realizing a more inclusive home that serves all communities. There will be an opportunity to report out on the smaller-group discussions and share what we’ve learned from each other.

Speakers and facilitators will include:
Kirin Bhatti, Seattle Office for Civil Rights; Michael Austin, commissioner, Seattle Planning Commission; Vanessa Murdock, Executive Director, Seattle Planning Commission; Lee Copeland, commissioner, Seattle Design Commission; Ellen Sollod, Vice Chair, Seattle Design Commission; Valerie Kinast, coordinator, Seattle Design Commission; Leilani Lewis, Director of Marketing and Communications, Northwest African American Museum; Lara Davis, Arts Education Manager, Office of Arts & Culture; Ruri Yampolsky, Public Art Director, Office of Arts & Culture. Assisted by Payton Bordley, Racial Equity Liaison, Office of Arts & Culture.

City to Discuss Ballard Transportation and Urban Design Improvements

Seeking feedback during May 7 open house

In response to ongoing development, the community’s desire to retain Ballard’s character, and Sound Transit’s planning for light rail to Ballard, Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development (DPD) and Department of Transportation (SDOT) are working with neighborhood groups and non-profits, organized as the Ballard Partnership for Smart Growth. This meeting is an opportunity to review recommendations for shaping growth in the Ballard Business District and to explore transportation issues.

The collaboration will develop an Urban Design Framework (UDF) and a multimodal transportation plan called Move Ballard that will articulate a shared vision to guide future development and transportation investment while ensuring Ballard’s people and places thrive. Through Move Ballard, we will engage community members to recommend innovative solutions for enhancing the transportation environment for all, regardless of how they travel to and through the area. The City and Ballard Partnership for Smart Growth are holding an open house on May 7 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Leif Erikson Lodge to:

  • Receive comments on the draft recommendations to better guide development
  • Identify and prioritize near-term improvements for all forms of transportation in the Ballard Hub Urban Village
  • Evaluate and prioritize potential future high capacity transit (e.g. light rail, streetcar) station locations while preserving and supporting industrial and commercial employment in Ballard.

Tell us what you think about the future of transportation and growth in Ballard. Here’s how you can provide your feedback:

  • Attend the Community Meeting
    May 7, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m.
    Large Hall (2nd floor), Leif Erikson Lodge, 2245 NW 57th Street
    (Light snacks will be provided)

At the first meeting held a year ago, we heard that the community loves Ballard’s historic qualities and its tradition of industry. Many appreciate the growth of shops and restaurants in a beautiful, walkable neighborhood. However, they are also concerned that a number of recent high-density projects being built in the area do not contributing to Ballard’s character. There are also worries about affordability and that transportation improvements have not kept pace with growth.

The City then worked with the Ballard Partnership to define responses to the community input on the character of growth in Ballard’s core business areas. At the second public meeting last November, we received strong support for preliminary recommendations to shape new development, streetscapes and open space in downtown Ballard.

Review the background information here

Questions? Comments?

Department of Planning and Development Seattle Department of Transportation
David Goldberg,Planner
(206) 615-1447
Chris Yake, Transportation Planner
(206) 727-8719