Civic Tech Digest Week of 5/1

Phone2Action’s New Alexa Skill Calls Your Elected Officials | Knight Foundation Awards 1.2 Million to Six Cities for IOT | How to Find Your New Sister City

Hello and welcome to week 4 and the month of May! We are excited to be bringing you yet another opportunity to learn about the world of civic tech and data.

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.

1. Phone2Action’s new Alexa Skill (powered by Cicero data) calls your elected officials with your Amazon Echo

Phone2Action Alexa Skill enables you to contact your Federal elected officials to let them know about issues that are important to you. Phone2Action will identify your lawmakers and connect you, via phone, to their offices so that your voice can be heard. Whatever your political affiliation, Phone2Action allows all American citizens to easily take part in the civic process.

2. Solution for Non-Violent Traffic Offenders Trapped in the Court System

A civic tech collaborative from St. Louis has developed a solution to help non-violent traffic offenders trapped in the court system. A new tool, YourSTLCourts allows users to find information about outstanding tickets and how to pay them via text or a web interface in order to avoid a downward spiral into court fees and debt.

3.Knight Foundation Awards 1.2 Million to Six Cities for Responsible Technology Work

The Knight Foundation announced on April 21 that it was awarding $1.2 million to six cities in order to explore how the Internet of Things (IoT) can benefit modern cities, thoughtfully and equitably. The awardees include: Akron, Ohio; Boston; Detroit; Miami; Philadelphia; and San Jose, Calif.

“As cities increasingly use the Internet of Things to reduce costs, increase sustainability and improve services, we need to be acutely aware of its impact — both good and bad,” said John S. Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for technology innovation, in a statement.

4. How to Find Your New Sister City

A new tool just launched by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago looks at the notion of sister cities using four vectors: equity, resilience, outlook, and housing.

The Peer City Identification Tool is like a DNA test for civic data, allowing users to tell at a glance where certain cities’ specific interests and challenges align, and where they deviate.

5. The First Website To Crowdsource New Laws and Public Policy

Launching beta this summer and created by a team of politicos and programmers who are tired of politics as usual, for the American voters that do not feel heard by their government. LawMaker is the first platform that directly connects people with their elected representatives to make change in our government.

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!

By Cherie Chung, Patrick Han, and Kelly Lui