Part of the TICTeC Labs programme that ran from 2021 to 2023, TICTeC Action Labs were collaborative and action-oriented working groups that took forward ideas generated in TICTeC Civic Tech Surgeries to support initiatives that address common challenges for the global civic tech sector.
Each Action Lab was organised around a certain theme, identified as a key challenge for the civic tech sector. Six Action Labs were convened across the 18 month TICTeC Labs programme.
Up to 6 individuals were convened to lead each Action Lab, and discussed and decided what would be most useful to produce in order to help the global civic tech community address challenges. They then used TICTeC Grants to commission solutions. You can see all commissioned solutions here.
#1. What would help the global civic tech community to work more effectively with public and private institutions?
At the first Civic Tech Surgery, the challenges of public-private civic tech projects, as well as possible solutions to tackle them, were discussed by Aline Muylaert of CitizenLab; Amanda Clarke, of Carleton University; Gabriella Razzano of OpenUp in South Africa and Ebtihaj Khan from Code for Pakistan, as well as Surgery attendees.
After discussing the above question, TICTeC Action Lab #1 members commissioned a piece of work that showcases examples of where civic tech interventions have resulted in tangible improvements and benefits for governments/public institutions and their citizens. See the finished case studies here.
#2. How can the global civic tech community fix common accessibility challenges?
At the second Civic Tech Surgery, the challenges of ensuring civic tech is accessible, as well as ideas of how to tackle them, were discussed by Mark Renja at Code for Africa, Laura Nelson-Hamilton at Public Digital, Oluseun Onigbinde of BudgIT Nigeria and Bonnita Nyamwire at Pollicy, as well as Surgery attendees.
TICTeC Action Lab #2 members agreed to commission a piece of work that creates a resource/ toolkit to support the global civic tech community in fixing common accessibility challenges. Read the finished toolkit here.
#3. What would help the global civic tech community to overcome common barriers to accessing quality information?
At the third Civic Tech Surgery, the challenges of accessing good quality information and data for civic tech projects, as well as ideas of how to tackle them, were discussed by Khairil Yusof from Sinar Project, Laura Zommer from Chequeado, Nati Carfi from Open Data Charter, Sym Roe from Democracy Club and Nehemiah Yelu Attigah from Odekro PMO, as well as Surgery attendees.
This Action Lab group agreed to commission a piece of work to create resources to train organisations/ the public in accessing and using data. The end result was an online course in English and French produced by Open North.
#4. How can we amplify our successes beyond the civic tech community to evidence our impact through mainstream channels?
At the fourth Civic Tech Surgery, the challenges of getting our stories out to a wider audience were discussed by Daniel Carranza of DATA Uruguay, Attila Juhász from K-Monitor in Hungary, Amy Leach of the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development Data and mySociety’s Communications Manager Myfanwy Nixon, as well as Surgery attendees.
This Action Lab group met and agreed to commission a piece of work to help meet these challenges. The end result was a training session for civic tech organisations by Fundación Multitudes, which equipped them with effective tools to get stories about their projects and successes into mainstream channels.
#5. How can civic tech drive impactful societal change?
At the fifth Civic Tech Surgery, we discussed opportunities and challenges in using civic tech to encourage people to change and coordinate their behaviour in ways that can cause significant changes in society, specifically through the lens of climate action. Panel members were Laura Brown, Chief Marketing Officer of ISeeChange, Jacopo Ottaviani, Chief Data Officer at Code for Africa and Laurence Watson, Head of Technology at Subak.
This Action Lab awarded a TICTeC Labs grant to the Demography Project, Kenya, for Maai Makwa, an open-source, open-data and public domain water quality and quantity monitoring project integrated with practical civic education.
#6. Civic Tech in Hostile Environments – how can we thrive in challenging contexts?
At the sixth Civic Tech Surgery, we discussed opportunities and challenges in running civic tech initiatives in conflict settings and other difficult contexts. The panellists brought their experiences to the questions of how best to support the civic tech community in hostile environments; and what is – and isn’t – helpful when we are doing so. Panel members were Teona Tomashvili of ForSet in Georgia; Yolanda Booyzen of the global organisation HURIDOCS; and Julie Hawke from the international Build Up.
TICTeC Action Lab #6 discussed the above question and commissioned a piece of work which repurposes existing software in a way which benefits civic tech organisations working in hostile environments. This grant was awarded to Policy Lab Africa to develop their Election Violence Tracker mapping electoral-related violence in Nigeria.