Government support is a key factor for civic technology

Blog Post by Rebecca Rumbul: “Civic tech is on a huge growth curve. There is much more of it about now than there was ten years ago. At the same time, it is changing the scope and reach, and becoming much more mainstream. Ten years ago civic tech was hardly spoken about by anyone. It was largely the domain of ‘outsiders’, by which I mean campaigners and data specialists working outside the mainstream. Today civic tech is an accepted, respected and widely used form of engaging citizens.

The movement over that ten years has mostly been gradual, but over the last couple of years, there has been a really significant shift in how civic tech is viewed both by those within and outside the sector. A wider range of funders are more interested in supporting projects, government seems to have woken up to how civic tech can really be a spur to public engagement, and the word is getting out there to people on the street. Quite literally. At mySociety our FixMyStreet app now garners in the region of six thousand citizen reports of things like potholes and fly-tipping every week.

This maturing of attitudes towards and use of civic tech is wonderful to see. Those pioneers who saw a problem wrote a bit of code and put it online as a way of immediately finding a way to fix the problem have seen their often locally focused efforts contribute to the growth of a global phenomenon in a really short space of time.  And we are in a process here. There is no doubt that civic tech continues to grow and continues to make an impact way beyond its humble beginnings.

But the way civic tech develops is not uniform around the world, and it does need a number of circumstances to converge to make it really sing. That coming together of citizen awareness, government buy-in and funding support is crucial to its success. And there are other important factors too.

We’ve been researching the impact of civic tech around the world, and one of the most interesting things we’ve learned is that the movement is working with institutions much more today than it did five or ten years ago…(More)“.