Civic Tech – of the people, by the people and for the people

Politics & Society
re:publica 2014

Short thesis: 

What if governments invited citizens to help create new tools and services that fit their needs? What if citizens offered governments not only their voices but also their hands and help build tools that improve the communication and collaboration between citizens and public administration? Initiatives and city labs around the world demonstrate how such engagement translates into new forms of citizen participation through the use of new technology. What´s behind these new initiatives and city labs? What challenges do they face and what chances do they hold?


Abraham Lincoln called democracy the experiment of "government of the people, by the people, for the people” in his legendary Gettysburg Address. Today new concepts of open and participatory government strive for better communication, interaction and collaboration between governments and citizens via the use of new technologies, tools and open processes. Although these new concepts aim for active citizen participation, the role of citizens is often limited to being “users” rather than collaborators and experts that help to create and implement civic tech. External innovation holds a big potential for government institutions that often lack of technical expertise and resources.

City labs like the Lab para la ciudad in Mexico City and initiatives like Code for All are trying to tackle this and have the mission to encourage, enable and help citizens to use their skills in fields like software development, design and usability to collaborate with government institutions or to individually build tools that fix problems they face as citizens. Their goal is to leverage technology wisely and connect civic-minded people that can disrupt the status quo, empower citizens and make government work better to affect change.

This talk will give an overview on international programmes and government initiatives like the Lab PLC in Mexico City, the government run innovation labs in Buenos Aires and Finland, the programme Code for America and many more. It will discuss their approaches and the tools and solutions that have been developed of the people, by the people and for the people.

stage 6
Tuesday, May 6, 2014 -
13:45 to 14:15


Open Transport Working Group