Urban Fold

Accelerating Civic Engagement Technology

Although cities are looking to technology to help them better connect to their residents, get them involved in decision making, and share data, Silicon Valley has been slow to catch on. Emily Badger looks at one company trying to change this.

Anyone who's walked the exhibition hall at a recent APA conference may quibble with Badger's assertion that, "there aren't many companies out there selling modern web services to cities." However, seeing a gap in knowledge and enthusiasm amongst investors and entrepreneurs, the San Francisco-based non-profit Code for America is taking following the lead of their neighbors in Silicon Valley by launching an accelerator for civic technology start-ups this summer.

The hope for the accelerator, which has received funding from Google and the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, is "that this new industry can change the way you interact with local government in the same way that earlier tech start-ups have changed what's possible on the Internet."

"Our goals in thinking about this aren't in the one or two-year time frame," says Abhi Nemani, Code for America's director of strategy and communications. "We're going to probably see some cool companies come out of the first class. But this really is about a five to ten year goal getting investors excited, getting entrepreneurs excited, getting cities excited, getting this whole thing to work the way other markets work."

 

Full Story: The Next Big Start-Up Wave: Civic Technology

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