Local government and the civic tech movement

Luiz Felipe Ribeiro Barbalat Queiroz
Intelligent Cities
Published in
2 min readFeb 16, 2018


For the past decade, there has been many technological systems supporting and investing in the civic tech sector. In the current era of globalization, governments and institutions are seeking for entrepreneurs who have the ability of using technology to empower citizens and make governments more efficient and accessible.

The video called The Civic Technology Movement can be visualized on the following web link: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3fHindWy4Y&list=PL053PhbEjSL5hWKdEiFtPSXo8fFncwrfu). This video highlights experiences that governments have gained throughout the years that has led society to believe that technology can be used to improve quality of life and increase government efficiency. In addition, the video emphasizes that the civic tech movement is getting popular, which consequently has the power to attract more investments to governments and public institutions. An example that can explain the boom of this movement is the improvement of telecommunication, which increases the technical capacity of governments in mainstreaming their social programs and agenda for development. Mainstream of social programs allows a better interaction between governments and civil society groups, moreover, increases government transparency and decreases corruption.

The fact that this civic tech movement is a new phenomenon and many governments do not have the capacity building to adopt the movement into a policy agenda, the number of engaged people is still very low. Yet, according to the video, the number of meetup groups hosting civic tech competitions and workshops has been growing up. However, this level of activity is dwarfed by other movements such as climate action. In this way, civic tech is growing but still lacking scale. There are different positive indications of growth in civic tech; but while growth compares favorably to other movements, again the scale just isn’t there.

Another example of how governments can use technological systems to support and invest in the civic tech sector is The FoodBorne Chicago Program.

FoodBorne Chicago is a project launched by the City of Chicago Department of Public Health in 2013. The executive director of the program defines the initiative as a project of the Smart Chicago Collaborative, a civic organization devoted to improving lives in Chicago through technology. In addition, according to the executive director of the program, they have worked with a whole host of partners inside and outside of government to pull together this simple interface to get your information directly to City of Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) so it can be of use to everyone.