Omidyar Network has released “Engines of Change,” a report on the state of civic technology in the context of 21st century social movements that includes specific calls to action for organizations, governments, cities, practitioners, startups and investors that can help grow and sustain its impact.
The report, done in partnership with Purpose, is based on research conducted in 2016 with data based on meet-ups, social media conversations, GitHub contributions and venture funding, and provides a framework in which to view the momentum around civic technology. It incorporates Purpose’s Movement Measurement framework, a “methodology that uses big data to analyze social change,” that encompasses six criteria (Scale and/or Growth, Grassroots Activity, Sustained Engagement, Shared Vision, Collective Action, Shared Identity).
From Omidyar Network Investment Partner Stacy Donohue:
“So why consider viewing civic tech using the lens of 21st century movements? Movements are engines of change in society that enable citizens to create new and better paths to engage with government and to seek recourse on issues that matter to millions of people. At first glance, civic tech doesn’t appear to be a movement in the purest sense of the term, but on closer inspection, it does share some fundamental characteristics. Like a movement, civic tech is mission driven, is focused on making change that benefits the public, and in most cases enables better public input into decision making. We believe that better understanding the essential components of movements, and observing the ways in which civic tech does nor does not behave like one, can yield insights on how we as a civic tech community can collectively drive the sector forward.”
Civic tech, as defined by the report, is “any technology that is used to empower citizens or help make government more accessible, efficient, and effective.” A subset of this includes “Citizen to Citizen,” “Citizen to Government,” “Government Technology” technologies.
Findings in a nutshell:
The main take-away from this research is a need for a coherent and clearly articulated vision and sense of shared identity for civic tech. If the sector can work together to deliver this, it will help attract more participants to the sector – the more people understand what we mean when we say civic tech, the more they may see their work and interests reflected in it and will be interested to actively “join the movement”.