A definition for civic innovation
Out in California, Tina Lee asked about the best definition for civic innovation. As someone who has served as a fellow in the City of San Francisco’s Department of Technology Services, Lee has some personal context and interest.
According her tweets, she wants to distill the various definitions available online down to one working definition for educational purposes that would enable her to tease out the skills that are needed for 21st century civic engagement.
As it happens, I wrote definitions for years at WhatIs.com. This is an assignment that interests me. First, break down civic innovation into its components.
Webster defines “civic” as “or relating to a citizen, a city, citizenship, or community affairs.” Examples: “civic duty” or “civic pride.”
Webster defines for “innovation” as either “the introduction of something new” or “a new idea, method, or device.” Example: GPS navigation systems.
So, how could one define “civic engagement?” Concisely, with examples:
— Alex Howard (@digiphile) March 16, 2012
In this context, then, we might broadly define civic innovation as” new idea or method that improves the lives of citizens, the functions of cities, the practice of citizenship, or the state of community affairs.”
Maryland chief innovation officer Bryan Sivak, however, that “innovation challenges existing processes and systems, resulting in the injection, rapid execution and validation of new ideas into the ecosystem. In short, innovation asks “why?” a lot.”
San Francisco chief innovation officer Jay Nath told me via email this year that civic innovation “can be as simple as finding new ways to solve old problems. The real challenge is how to scale across a large organization and through time.”
Nath says that civic innovation is driven by resource constraints. “I recognize the value of applying lean methodology to public sector,” wrote Nath. “For the past few years, I’ve been operating without any budget and often without any direct staff. The way to innovate with these constraints is through partnerships, open innovation, and applying lean principles.”
Given that, a better definition for civic innovation might be a new idea, technology or methodology that challenges and improves upon existing processes and systems, thereby improving the lives of citizens or the function of the society that they live within.
Like the definition? Dislike it? Have ideas to improve it? Let us know in the comments — or share your version on Twitter using the #civicinnovation hashtag.
Earlier today, however, a mechanical engineer named Claudio Ibarra commented on a Google+ thread that he thought that the animated GIF was a “waste.”
You could spend a long day listing all of the organizations or individuals who are putting government data online, from Carl Malamud to open government activists in Brazil, Africa or Canada.
Putting a dollar value on clean water, stable markets, the quality of schooling or access to the judiciary is no easy task. Each of these elements of society, however, are to some extent related to and enabled by open government. If we think about how the fundamental democratic principles established centuries ago extend today purely […]
In an age where setting up a livestream to the Web and the rest of the networked world is as easy as holding up a smartphone and making a few taps, the United States Supreme Court appears more uniformly opposed to adding cameras in the courtroom than ever.
On January 10th, 2013, the OpenGov Hub officially launched in Washington, DC. The OpenGov Hub has similarities to incubators and accelerators, in terms of physically housing different organizations in one location, but focuses on scaling open government and building community, as opposed to scaling a startup and building a business. Samantha Power, special assistant to […]
The 2012-2013 influenza season has been a bad one, with flu reaching epidemic levels in the United States.
The Open Government Partnership (OGP) has released statistics on its first 16 months since its historic launch in New York City, collected together in the infographic embedded below. This week, Open government leaders are meeting in Chile to discuss the formal addition of Argentina to the partnership and the national plans that Latin American countries […]
The post-industrial future of journalism is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed yet. The same trends changing journalism and society have the potential to create significant social change throughout the African continent, as states moves from conditions of information scarcity to abundance. That reality was clear on my recent trip to Africa, where I […]
Social media was a bigger part of the election season of 2012 than ever before, from the enormous volume of Facebook updates and tweets to memes during the Presidential debates to public awareness of what the campaigns were doing there in popular culture. Facebook may even have booted President Obama’s vote tally.
Pollwatch, a mobile application that enabled crowdsourced poll monitoring, has launched a final version at pollwatch.us, just in time for Election Day 2012. The initial iteration of the app was conceived, developed and demonstrated at the hackathon at the 2012 Personal Democracy Forum in New York City.