Digital Transformation in Government Insight #101:
Civic tech and COVID-19
With many civic tech initiatives coming out of the current coronavirus pandemic, it’s comforting to know while people are staying apart, they're also coming together.
What is civic tech?
Civic tech is technology that boosts the relationships between governments and citizens. It’s also about building community, about people from government and tech coming together with citizens to create better solutions.
Civic tech ‘against’ COVID-19
A recent Government Technology article focused on how civic tech is fighting COVID-19. This article calls out four specific things happening in the US, namely:
Local and state government acting as a central online contact point for information relating to the virus — Government Technology also has a fantastic Resource Guide for Government Leaders, which includes many soutions from govtech companies.
Bloomberg Philanthropies has several initiatives underway, including increasing its financial support for tech and innovation in local governments, and launching a resource bank on COVID-19 for local governments.
There’s work happening to target the digital divide, which has much more severe repercussions at the moment, with social distancing and online education being the new norm.
Headwater Economics has launched a new map of hospital beds in the US.
Civic Hall, a New York-based hub for civic tech, recently compiled a list of some initiatives from around the US and the world to help connect people. The list is in a blog post titled Take a deep breath, and includes examples such as:
MainersTogether.com, a site where people can connect and offer help
InvisibleHandsDeliver, a site offering safe, free deliveries to high-risk people in New York City and Jersey City
QuarantineChat, an app that matches people with other callers from around the world for a chat
Crowdsourcing proposals for short online courses for kids now stuck at home
Civic Tech in Australia
At this stage, we couldn’t find anything specific happening in civic tech in Australia related to COVID-19. However, this may be because we didn’t find it (!) or because we’re in the early stages of our curve and any work that’s happening is still in development. If so, hopefully we’ll become aware of it in the coming days and weeks.
Salsa Digital’s take
Civic tech is an area we’ve been interested in for some time, and our interest is only growing. It’s great to see people coming together during this global crisis. We think it’s also important to hear some of these ‘good news’ stories to help our mental health and to help prevent feeling isolated. While there’s much more happening in this space in the US, their pandemic curve is ahead of ours and their population is much larger. However, we hope to hear about more cases of civic tech in action in Australia as we face COVID-19 together.