Strong, vibrant civic tech groups like Civic Tech Toronto, Civic Tech Fredericton and BetaCityYEG, are conduits for collaboration between residents and governments. They increase both the digital and civic capacity in their communities, and provide opportunities for residents to build digital solutions to local challenges. Code for Canada supports the formation, growth and sustainability of civic tech groups in Canadian cities, helping residents and public servants to co-create meaningful impact in their communities.
Supporting grassroots civic tech growth
Code for Canada’s Community Network has provided a platform for civic tech organizers across the country to connect, collaborate and learn.
We convened civic tech organizers from across the country at the Canadian Open Data Summit in Edmonton in 2017, established regular conference calls with civic tech leaders to identify shared challenges and opportunities, formed a Slack channel for those heading up civic tech efforts in their communities, featured stories of Canadian civic tech success on our blog, and created both a Civic Tech Toolkit to help residents start and sustain a civic tech community in their city, as well as a Civic Tech Playbook to help municipal officials collaborate with local civic tech groups.
The result? The number of civic tech groups in Canada has more than doubled, growing from three in 2017 to seven in 2018, and civic hackers from Fredericton to Vancouver have built apps or hosted events that made a positive impact in their communities.
The national civic tech movement is supported by Code for Canada, which serves as a platform and resource hub for civic tech organizers across the country.”
– Civic Tech Fredericton
The number of new civic tech groups in the country since Code for Canada launched
Practitioners who have joined our community Slack channel for civic tech organizers
Code for Canada’s Civic Tech Toolkit can help you start a civic tech group in your city
At Code for Canada, every Tuesday is #CivicTechTuesday.
Once a week, we tweet out information about civic tech meetups happening across Canada to our more than 4,600 followers. It’s our way of helping local civic tech groups — as well as the organizations, governments and venues that support them — reach a larger audience.
Building capacity through collaboration
When the City of Toronto reached out to us about innovative ways to address a lack of bicycle parking in the city, we saw an opportunity.
Code for Canada acted as a bridge between City Hall and Civic Tech Toronto, engaging local civic hackers excited to dive into the problem. With support from Toronto’s Transportation Services division, civic tech volunteers quickly organized and built an open source tool that lets cyclists easily report bike parking issues and post them to a public dashboard for everyone — including city staff — to see.
By working together, the City of Toronto, Code for Canada and Civic Tech Toronto successfully piloted a new model for collaboration between municipalities and civic tech groups.
As a result of that collaboration the City deployed a new civic engagement tool at a fraction of the cost of traditional procurement, municipal staff saw how the agile, user-centred methods common to civic tech projects could be applied to their work, and the Transportation Services division garnered new and actionable data about residents’ needs.
“It made sense as a civic tech project … If we want to put tools in the hands of the public, who better to create these tools than citizens and cyclists?”
– Jake Miller
BikeSpace product manager
The number of bike parking reports made through the BikeSpace app between July to October 2018.
Introducing Code for Canada’s Civic Tech Playbook
Are you a public servant curious how civic tech can help you achieve your mandate?
Having seen the positive impacts that came from the BikeSpace project, Code for Canada is developing a guide for municipal leaders to help them partner with local civic tech communities. The Civic Tech Playbook contains information about the values and practices of civic tech, and presents concrete steps public servants can take to engage with, and ultimately become part of, the civic tech community in their city.
Creating community with open data
Code for Canada and Ontario’s Open Government Office collaborated to support events that extended the momentum and impact of International Open Data Day on March 3, 2018. This support enabled local organizers to host new events related to civic tech and open data, or scale up existing ones.
In addition to sponsoring the CodeAcross 2018 civic hackathon in Toronto, we supported a “mapathon” with high school students in the Region of Durham, as well as a presentation on open contracting and procurement reform in Ottawa.
These events introduced residents and students to both open data and civic tech, and showed them how technology, data and design can be used to understand and address issues in their communities.
“The event exceeded our expectations in terms of the technical skills the students learned, and for those students who were anxious about interacting with other students and professionals with high-level jobs prior to the event, we observed a growth in their social skills.”
– Teacher with the Region of Durham
Half of the attendees at the Ottawa Open Data Day event went on to attend an Ottawa Civic Tech hacknight
The number of civic tech-led hackathons in Canada to celebrate Open Data Day in 2018
“Attendees enthused about the potential of open data stuck around to participate in Civic Tech Ottawa’s weekly hacknight, where they had the chance to act on what they learned.”
– Rob Davidson
Organizer with Ottawa Civic Tech