2018 Schedule

Wednesday 18th April

  • Conference registration & refreshments

  • Welcome

    • Mark Cridge (mySociety, UK)
  • Opinion vs. Fact

    • Dr. Rebecca Rumbul (mySociety, UK)
  • The political construction of accountability keywords: lessons from action-research

    • Professor Jonathan Fox (School of International Service, American University)

    Professor Fox examines the keywords we use when talking about the upwards accountability of governments, and downwards accountability as citizens attempt to hold the powerful to account.

    He reflects on the political origins and implications of terms in the accountability field, addressing their invention, translation, appropriation and circulation in different contexts.

  • Refreshment break

  • Corruption & public spending: Civic Tech for accountability

    Impacts of anti-corruption pledge trackers

    • Jameela Raymond (Transparency International UK)

    The 2016 Anti-Corruption Summit saw leaders make over 600 pledges that could have real potential to reduce global corruption. However, there was no formal follow-up mechanism to ensure that they would be held accountable for the promises that they made.

    To fill this gap, Transparency International UK developed an Anti-Corruption Pledge Tracker — and it’s had incredible results.

    Bridging the gap between parliament and the people

    • Eshban Kwesiga (Parliament Watch, Uganda)

    This talk will cover how the Centre for Policy Analysis (CEPA) are using technology and multi media tools to make information on Parliament more accessible for mainstream online audiences, and some of the impacts of this work.

    How a crowdsourced FOI campaign improved EU transparency

    • Luisa Izuzquiza (Access Info Europe, Spain)

    A campaign to release EU commissioners’ travel expenses, after years of FOI requests and appeals finally found success through a co-ordinated crowdsourcing campaign.

    Luisa digs deep into the mechanics of such a campaign: how to set it up, the main challenges and obstacles, and the solutions found to counter them.

    Blockchain for civic change: can it deliver?

    • Anders Pedersen (Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI), US)
    • Andrew Young (GovLab, US)
    • Marco Konopacki (Institute for Technology & Society of Rio (ITS Rio), Brazil)
    • Nicole Anand (The Engine Room, US)
    • Stefaan Verhulst (The GovLab @ NYU, US)

    Blockchain, the much-hyped technology that underpins Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, is widely heralded as the answer to a vast array of public problems. In this session, we seek to cut through the noise.

    Further panelists will be added here soon.

    This 75-minute session will allow for an extended Q&A session where we will invite critical reflections and interventions from the audience.

    Make it count: conducting meaningful Civic Tech research

    • Alex Parsons (mySociety, UK)
    • Dr. Rebecca Rumbul (mySociety, UK)

    With several years of dedicated research behind them, and access to some incredible datasets, mySociety has a lot to say about how rigorous academic inquiry can inform and improve all we do in Civic Tech.

    In this interactive workshop learn how to conduct research that is truly meaningful — and how to avoid research that is not.

    You may also be interested in hiring mySociety researchers for training and research consultancy.

  • Lunch

    If you have any special dietary requirements, please ask the waiters/waitresses for your meal.

  • Improving Civic Discourse on Facebook

    • Alisa Nguyen (Facebook, US)
    • Annie Franco (Facebook, US)
    • Samidh Chakrabarti (Facebook, US)
  • Practical takeaways for Civic Tech

    Design for civic participation

    • Martin Wright (mySociety, UK)

    One of mySociety's designers, Martin, takes us through the main civic tech product design lessons he's learnt at mySociety.

    The personal and the public: protecting sensitive data in huge datasets

    • Felipe Hoffa (Google, US)

    When releasing a public dataset, practitioners need to walk a fine line between utility and the protection of individuals.

    Felipe moves us from theory to the real life practicalities of handling massive public datasets, showcasing newly available cloud-based tools that help with the detection of personal information, and bringing concepts like k-anonymity and l-diversity into context.

    Design principles for re-engaging disaffected citizens

    • John Buckley (Frontend.com, Ireland)

    Through the DesignFix project, John collaborates with academic partners and students to explore societal issues through human-centred design: most recently they’ve been examining the rise of anti-government populism.

    The result? Rules of Engagement that guide how Civic Tech practitioners can encourage buy-in from policymakers and work towards restoring public trust.

    The scrutineer scrutinised: research on mySociety projects


    • Hartwig Pautz (University of the West of Scotland, UK)

    Hartwig analyses whether mySociety’s online Civic Tech tool WriteToThem, which allows people to contact their representatives at local, subnational, national and European levels, promotes ‘interactivity’ between elected and electors.

    His findings are not all positive: he argues that the site is often used for purposes unintended by its makers and not always appreciated by the representatives.

    Crowdsourcing subjective perceptions of neighbourhood disorder: interpreting bias in Open Data

    • Réka Solymosi (University College London, UK)

    Crowdsourced, open data is often seen as inherently problematic for researchers, primarily because of the inevitable subjective biases that occur when contributors are self-selected.

    Réka uses data from mySociety’s street fault reporting service FixMyStreet to reframe those biases as a useful route into understanding people’s subjective experiences with their environments.

    What research has mySociety been doing internally?

    • Alex Parsons (mySociety, UK)

    A look into what mySociety's Research Team has been finding out over the last year.

    A long, hard look: evaluating Civic Tech as a field

    The Making All Voices Count programme: new lessons about donor-funded civic tech

    • Duncan Edwards (Publish What You Pay, UK)
    • Rosie McGee (Institute of Development Studies, UK)

    This session will focus on two things: the potential and limits of technologies in the transformative project of building democratic and accountable governance; and the extent to which a donor-funded programme like MAVC incentivises and rewards a careful, critical, evaluative approach.

    Smart Cities vs. Civic Tech: an analysis

    • Annette Jezierska (The Future Fox, UK)
    • German Dector-Vega (The Future Fox, UK)

    The concept of Smart Cities is championed by tech giants and marketing agencies worldwide, while Civic Tech often relies on local social impact objectives, volunteers, and grants. Yet there is crossover between the two, and thus possibly untapped opportunities for Civic Tech in terms of innovation, collaboration and even new streams of revenue.

    The Future Fox’s research examines the relative impacts of Smart Cities and Civic Tech initiatives, asking what potential there is for Civic Tech to shape the Smart Cities agenda. In this session we also discuss how to develop and justify creative applications to scale up our technologies.

    The problem with impact measurement in Civic Tech

    • Matthew Stempeck (Civic Hall, US)
    • Micah L. Sifry (Civic Hall, US)

    Most Civic Tech products fail to reach the public for whom we build. Matt Stempeck and Micah L. Sifry researched available impact metrics for civic engagement technologies — and this was the sobering conclusion.

    While impact analysis can be highly challenging, important measures can be found. Here’s a clue: it’s not always about the metrics.

  • Refreshment break

  • Fact-checking & trust

    FactNameh: fact-checking Iranian politicians from abroad

    • ASL19 (Iran/ Canada)

    Fact-checking can be difficult enough, but when operated from outside the country of focus, things become all the more challenging. ASL19 work from Canada to promote accountability and transparency in the Iranian political arena.

    ASL19 share their experiences, including successes and unique challenges; and how they reach a target audience from whom they are geographically distant.

    PISA4U: empowering teachers through online global peer collaboration

    • Chi Sum Tse (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), France)

    An online platform brought policy experts closer to the people their recommendations are supposed to impact – teachers.

    The PISA4U experiment tapped into the desire of teachers to contribute and collaborate internationally in a project-based setting. What happens when an international organisation and a MOOC provider join forces with teachers around the world?

    CoFacts: the chatbot that combats misinformation

    • Wu Min Hsuan (ttcat) (Open Culture Foundation / g0v.tw, Taiwan)

    Misinformation is easily spread in closed messenger groups such as Whatsapp and its popular Asian equivalent, LINE; and such groups are hard to monitor.

    Enter CoFacts, a collaborative fact-checking chatbot with access to a database of hoaxes and misinformation. With over 20,000 users each week, it’s now also possible for its instigators to see how false information is spread.

    Assessing Civic Tech: issues and ecosystems

    Knowledge from failure: learnings from the Civic Tech Field Guide

    • Matthew Stempeck (Civic Hall, US)
    • Micah L. Sifry (Civic Hall, US)

    The Civic Tech Field Guide is a living database of tools, projects, and organisations worldwide.

    Of the roughly 800 initiatives covered, about 50 have been discontinued. Guide co-creators Matt Stempeck and Micah Sifry describe common reasons that Civic Tech projects fail, and then engage the audience in an interactive conversation about the major modes of failure.

    Civic Tech in Nigeria: What works?

    • Oluwaseun Akinfolarin (Civic Media Lab)

    No doubt civic technology is changing the way Nigerian citizens engage with Government but despite many attempts to intensify this engagement using civic tech tools many still haven’t gotten impressive results.

    This paper used Tracker a civic tech tool as a case study to explore the impact of civic tech tools in Nigeria in fostering public participation in governance. It sought to understand if civic tech tools have truly succeeded.

    Democracy as an obstacle to impact: the Nordic race to the bottom in open government

    • Christopher Wilson (University of Oslo, Norway)

    The Nordic countries display consistent and remarkably similar poor performance in Open Government Partnership implementation. Process tracing suggests that this is due to a combination of cultural and institutional factors.

    Christopher presents specific recommendations for the design of Civic Tech programs that aim for institutional engagement across levels of government.

    What drives change in government?

    Diverting hate speech with simple online tools

    • Chioma Agwuegbo (Reboot, Nigeria)

    Out of a general fear that the 2015 General Election would see the eruption of violence, CITAD developed iHub Kenya’s Umati project for use in Nigeria.

    The project has brought a better understanding of the instigators, victims, and language of hate speech, and the channels used in propagating it — providing critical information for designing appropriate responses.

    Civic Tech for governmental change

    • Alvaro Herrero (Buenos Aires City Government, Argentina)

    Towards the beginning of 2017, a Buenos Aires government department decided to create a website showing all public works under its jurisdiction. The results were unexpected.

    Alvaro encourages us to examine how projects might have surprising effects on internal power dynamics in public administrations and local bureaucracies.

    Why do governments publish Open Data?

    • Mária Žuffová (University of Strathclyde, UK)

    In the past decade, many countries have demonstrated their commitment to transparency, launching Open Data portals.

    Maria explores why governments decide to adopt policies that limit their control over information. Drawing from organisational theory and political competition literature, she proposes motivations for increasing access to government information.

  • Drinks reception (optional)

    A chance to chat over drinks and canapés. This will take place at Capricciosa Parque das Nações, just a short walk away from the venue.

  • End of day

Thursday 19th April

  • Arrival & refreshments

  • Getting results, making change

    Making waves: tech for water in Sierra Leone

    • Nonso Jideofor (The Engine Room, Nigeria)

    Water in Sierra Leone is a complicated issue. There’s plenty of it, yet access is poor. In the capital water is a scarce commodity, and the situation is worse in rural areas.

    The Engine Room partnered with Code for Sierra Leone to understand how technology could address these issues. Nonso compares methods and outcomes, sharing insights which will be applicable to all.

    Social media vs traditional media in electoral coverage

    • Tiago André Casal da Silva (EUI / UNU-EGOV, Portugal)

    Social media: a force for political division — or a level playing field that allows electoral candidates to communicate directly with citizens, escaping traditional media’s focus on sensationalism?

    Tiago presents research into unmediated electoral campaigns on social media, comparing their efficacy to conventional media, with some surprising results.

    The results matter: assessing technology for service provision

    • Guy Grossman (University of Pennsylvania, US)

    Guy examines the effect of a new platform allowing citizens in Uganda to send free anonymous messages to local government officials.

    Initial measures indicated superficial successes, but when actual improvements in services were analysed, results were disappointing. Guy suggests means by which we can ensure better outcomes, and more accurate assessment of such projects.

    Bridging the Civic Tech research divide

    • Anna Colom (Open University, UK)
    • Chi Sum Tse (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), France)
    • Christopher Wilson (University of Oslo, Norway)
    • Emily Shaw (Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University (GovEx), US)
    • Eric Reese (Center for Government Excellence at John Hopkins University, US)
    • Martin Wright (mySociety, UK)
    • Nicole Anand (The Engine Room, US)

    This hands-on session offers participants the opportunity to collaboratively develop connections across the different research and practitioner communities in Civic Tech.

    Examining different research practices, exploring the multiple roles that we play, and facilitating discussion, we identify how useful knowledge about Civic Tech can be created, shared, and incorporated into our projects.

    Impacts of data literacy and data usage

    Value for money meets value for many: open contracting and civic participation

    • Katherine Wikrent (Open Contracting Partnership, Mexico)

    Government contracting is worth trillions annually, so Civic Tech that can use open contracting data to save money and improve services generates massive benefits.

    Open Contracting Partnership’s partners have used Open Data, Civic Tech, and citizen monitoring to reform public spending. They share the results of monitoring and evaluation frameworks and in-country impact analyses from Ukraine, Paraguay and Colombia.

    Publish What You Pay: the Data Extractors programme

    • Joyce Nyamukunda (Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, Zimbabwe)
    • Miles Litvinoff (Publish What You Pay UK)

    A number of Data Extractors present case studies of their work.

    Publish What You Pay is a global coalition of civil society organisations advocating for transparency and accountability in the extractive sector. Their Data Extractors Programme trains participants to uncover and make sense of extractives data, creating a network of activists who can share their knowledge with local communities.

    Experience in supporting developing data literacy and increasing data usage

    • Duncan Edwards (Publish What You Pay, UK)

    An interaction discussion to share reflections and experiences about the approaches the wider civic tech community have taken to building data literacy and usage of data.

  • Refreshment break

  • Words from Google: supporting the Civic Tech ecosystem

    • John Webb (Google)

    TICTeC would not be possible without generous support from Google.

    In this short address, Staff UX Researcher John explains Google's commitment to the Civic Tech field, outlining why they believe it to be of such critical importance in the current age.

    Google are open to new ideas about how they might best support the Civic Tech ecosystem, and feedback about their current initiatives in this area.

  • Responsible technology as the new normal

    • Martha Lane Fox

    Martha Lane Fox outlines Doteveryone’s mission to make responsible technology the new normal.

    What does it mean to make technology responsible, at every step of the process: the way it's developed, the way it works for users and its impact on society?

    Martha addresses the challenges inherent in this approach: the required shifts in culture, the change in relationships between technology, government and society, and the new practices which will be needed. She outlines the promise of a future where digital technologies are useful, trusted and trustworthy — and why we must seize this moment to make that a reality.

  • Lunch

    If you have any special dietary requirements, please ask the waiters/waitresses for your meal.

  • Two heads are better than one: working with governments

    • Alvaro Herrero (Buenos Aires City Government, Argentina)
    • Ana Neves (Knowman, Portugal)
    • João Ricardo Vasconcelos (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, France)
    • Paula Forteza (French National Assembly, France)

    Chair: João Vasconcelos, Public Governance Directorate at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, UK

    Panelists: - Paula Forteza, French National Assembly Member (France) - Ana Neves, Cidadania 2.0 (Portugal) - Alvaro Herrero, Government of Buenos Aires City (Argentina)

    Governments have a wealth of knowledge about the needs of their citizens. Civic Tech organisations often have innovative technologies that can meet those needs. What can we do to ensure that the two factions work effectively together to improve transparency, increase public engagement, and maximise benefits?

  • Refreshment break

  • Civic participation & engagement

    Exploring sense of community for online citizen engagement

    • Ann O'Brien (National University of Ireland Galway, Ireland)

    Ann presents a Sense of Community-based qualitative analysis of the interactions between citizens and care professionals on an online participatory platform in the UK, Care Opinion.

    The Sense of Community theory has been well validated in other fields, but this is the first time it has been applied to the arena of online citizen engagement.

    Strengthening civic participation in Paraguay through online technology

    • Jorge Saldivar (Catholic University "Nuestra Señora de la Asunción", Paraguay)

    Democracy in Paraguay has, over the last 30 years, suffered from low engagement — but new technology such as smartphones and social media is changing this by equipping Paraguayans with tools that facilitate engagement.

    Jorge discusses lessons learned from civic engagement processes where citizens used web-based platforms to share their ideas for innovating public services and urban plans.

    Five years of Citizen Budget: an impact assessment

    • Christian Medina-Ramirez (Open North, Canada)

    OpenNorth’s Citizen Budget is a consultation tool that has been implemented in over 90 municipalities across the United States, Canada and France.

    After five years Open North have undertaken research on the tool’s impact. Through quantitative and qualitative approaches, they are now able to share the impact of this relatively lightweight approach to consultations in budgeting.

    Citizen participation in Rome

    • Cecilia Colasanti (Roma Capitale, Italy)

    A new portal, Roma Capitale, allows citizens to get involved in taking decisions for the city. Rome is exploring how digital solutions can best be used in combination with more traditional avenues in order to support democratic decision-making.

    Cecilia, Flavia and Marco report on the foundation of this project as well as the results and future plans.

    Two round table discussions:

    Why is no one using the Civic Tech evidence base?

    • Christopher Wilson (University of Oslo, Norway)
    • David Sasaki (William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, US)
    • Jessica Musila (Mzalendo, Kenya)
    • Nicole Anand (The Engine Room, US)
    • Rosie McGee (Institute of Development Studies, UK)
    • Wu Min Hsuan (ttcat) (Open Culture Foundation / g0v.tw, Taiwan)

    “We need to know what works in Civic Tech, so that we can design better interventions.”

    That fundamental assumption has driven research and funding, but the resulting outputs do not appear to influence program design in any meaningful way. This roundtable discusses appropriate next steps for providing the Civic Tech community with an evidence base it can actually use.

    Donor forum: good practices to support Civic Tech

    • Kip Wainscott (National Democratic Institute (NDI), US)
    • Kole Shettima (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation)
    • Mark Cridge (mySociety, UK)
    • Rachel Rank (360Giving, UK)
    • Stacy Donohue (Luminate)
    • Wu Min Hsuan (ttcat) (Open Culture Foundation / g0v.tw, Taiwan)

    Come and have input into what the donor community needs to know about the Civic Tech community.

    The National Democratic Institute and the Code for All Network are currently exploring the possibility of convening a donor forum on good practices to support Civic Tech. This panel aims to ensure that the concerns of the Civic Tech community are accurately conveyed to the donor community.

    Making responsible tech the new normal

    • Sam Brown (Doteveryone, UK)
    • Stav Bar-Shany (Doteveryone, UK)

    Doteveryone’s ongoing research highlights examples of both responsible and not responsible technology, and some unintended social consequences.

    Following Martha Lane Fox’s keynote speech, Doteveryone asks how we can foster collaborations between policy makers, civil society and the tech industry to ensure that responsible tech becomes the norm.

  • End of conference

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