Heading into the second decade of the 21st century, we constantly hear about how social media, geolocation, mobile apps and similar technological innovations are changing the way we interact with each other. But how are they changing the way we interact with our governments (particularly local governments)? Are they offering new opportunities for civic engagement? Are they changing the way residents view their role in local government, creating new opportunities for citizen involvement? Or are they cementing old ideas of citizens as customers by facilitating the delivery of government services?

These questions are of particular interest to those of us at the Davenport Institute for Public Engagement and Civic Leadership as we seek to help solve public problems by promoting citizen's participation in governance. We have created this blog to provide up-to-date information relating to what is being called "Government 2.0." We hope what you find here will help local governments and their residents make the most of the technology available for genuine citizen engagement.

New to Gov 2.0? Check out our foundational documents »

What is Civic Tech?

“Civic Tech” has become a bit of a buzzword lately.  But what exactly is it? The Omidyar Network,  in collaboration with Purpose, recently released an extensive report on Civic Technology called “Engines of Change.”  GovFresh took that report and summarized it in a helpful infographic that outlines key components of “civic technology.”

That infographic is available here.

Thinking like a Marketer

At the Davenport Institute we often talk about the problem with an “if we build it they will come” mentality toward public engagement.  Sometimes reaching the public means thinking like a marketer.  The City of Abbotsford, BC recently undertook an extensive engagement process around long-term plans, and wants to make sure anyone who haven’t heard does hear.  So they’ve used creative ways to reach out including this humorous video:

Last week the City partnered with Metroquest to talk about successful online civic engagement. The recording of the webinar is available here.

Crowdfunding: US and UK

Athlyn Cathcart-Keays reports on the growing use of crowdfunding for neighborhood regeneration—and fun stuff like swimming in the Thames—in London, UK:

Architect Chris Romer-Lee had a wild idea: Why not turn part of the River Thames into a swimming pool?

To see if the “Thames Baths” could work, Romer-Lee and his firm, Studio Octopi, did what many creative people with an idea have done in recent years: They launched a campaign on the crowdfunding site Kickstarter. It was a rapid success. In less than a month, they raised more than £140,000, mostly in small donations. The money helped to pay for a pre-planning study.

The London city government has formed a “regeneration team” to help coordinate and encourage crowdfunding initiatives.

Crowdfunding for neighborhood improvement isn’t just for the British; the American nonprofit ioby sprung up from a partnership of three Yalies interested in localized sustainability work has raised over $2.3 million and funded 674 projects across the U.S., according to their website.

 Read more about crowdfunding in London at Citiscope here.

Read more about ioby’s crowdfunding projects in the US here.

Contributor: Benjamin Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy alumnus, MPP ’16. 


Social Media Landscape Survey

 ICYMI, Laura Royden offers a roundup of the many ways city leaders are engaging citizens via social media.  Royden provides an excellent breakdown and links to a variety of online platforms that city leaders have used, plus the challenges that engagement via social media presents:

Social media’s growth…represents a unique and important civic engagement opportunity for cities that goes beyond basic advertising. By taking full advantage of social media, cities now have a relatively easy, low-cost way to hold two-way conversations with residents, reach previously disengaged populations, gauge public opinion, garner feedback, and even analyze posts to make more informed decisions about city services.

For the full survey at Data-Smart City Solutions, click here.

Contributor: Benjamin Peterson, Pepperdine School of Public Policy Alumnus, MPP ’16.