Civic Tech Digest — Week of 4/10

Harvard Undergrads Launch Federal Agency Fellowship | The Woman Building Iran’s Civic Tech Sector | 80 Orgs Voice Support for Open Government Data Act

Hello and welcome to week 2!

By releasing this weekly digest of Civic Tech news, we hope to cut through the noise and keep you up to date on the most important developments in the world of government, data/technology, and innovation.

This week, we are excited to announce a new member of our team, Kelly Lui.

Kelly is a talented writer and editor who founded The Caravel, a weekly publication at Georgetown University focused on international affairs. She currently works in Hong Kong at John Swire & Sons (H.K.) Ltd. and is excited to dive back into the world of writing and civic issues by joining this publication. Welcome Kelly!

Without further ado, here’s our first weekly round-up!

1. Tech Alone Won’t Be Enough to Reboot Progressive Politics

Last week, we highlighted some up and coming tools and platforms for resistance, change, and political activism. We’re following that up with an article about why that might not be enough.

“No one has built an app for righting the course of history. Technology has radically changed political movements, but they still require footwork and paperwork and the kind of slow and steady incremental gains foreign to people accustomed to moving fast and breaking things.”

2. Harvard Undergraduates Launch Fellowship to Connect Students Early to Federal Agencies

Harvard students launched the Civic Digital Fellowship, a fully-funded data science and technology internship program in federal agencies. The first program of its kind, it is designed to offer tech-savvy undergraduates an experience comparable to a summer at a top tech company, but in public service.

3. NYC Considers Codifying Startup’s Temperature Monitoring Sensor

Civic startups can become the real deal — just ask Heat Seek, a nonprofit startup and past winner of New York City’s long-standing civic tech innovation competition, BigApps. The technology is a sensor that monitors whether landlords meet minimum temperature requirements in tenants’ apartments during winter. New York City Council is considering a bill that would require landlords to install temperature sensors in living rooms.

4. The Woman Building Iran’s Civic Tech Sector (From Across the World)

Firuzeh Mahmoudi founded United4Iran and Irancubator, the first civic tech-focused startup incubator in Iran. She and her team are building apps like a Yelp for rating public officials and women’s health trackers — in heritage languages that are currently banned from official use.

One small complication — coined as an “anti-revolutionary fugitive”, Mahmoudi and her team can’t enter Iran and have to work from the Bay Area, trying to change the country from the inside out halfway around the world.

5. Over 80 Organizations Send Letter in Support of Open Government Data Act

The letter was sent to Chairman Ron Johnson and Ranking Member Claire McCaskill on the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs in the U.S. Senate and Chairman Chaffetz and Ranking Member Elijah Cummings on the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The OPEN Government Data Act would require federal agencies to publish government data in machine-readable and open formats and use open licenses. In addition, it would direct agencies to support innovative uses of government data, adopt consistent data practices across government, and develop best practices for open data.

That’s it for this week. Follow CivicTech for America on Medium to get notified when this digest is released every Friday. See you next Friday!