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Civic Tech and Engagement: With Waze, Who's in the Driver's Seat?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, October 21 2014

Screenshot of Waze.com's live map for Rio de Janeiro

Can you be a "connected citizen" if you don't know that you are connected to government? That's the question that's been on my mind since Waze, the crowdsourced traffic data company recently acquired by Google, announced a major new partnership with ten local cities and governments around the world called "Connected Citizens." Under this program, Waze will be giving city, state and county authorities like the New York Police Department and Rio de Janiero's Operations Center real-time traffic incident data (aggregated and anonymized) and in turn getting timely and relevant data from the authorities about scheduled events (construction, marathons and the like) that can also cause traffic problems. Since the program's announcement, dozens more governments have been applying to join in. At first glance, this can only be seen as a net plus good where everyone wins. But upon further inspection, Waze's new "Connected Citizens" program can teach us a lot about the potential, and limits, of tech-empowered civic engagement when the users aren't really in the driver's seat (pun intended). Read More

Civic Tech and Engagement: How SeeClickFix is Changing the Fabric of Local Reality

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, July 24 2014

To see how people using the Internet can thicken civic engagement in deep and positive ways, there is no better example than SeeClickFix.com, a community platform that was founded in 2008 by Ben Berkowitz, a computer programmer living in New Haven, Connecticut, and his friends Miles and Kam Lasater and Jeff Blasius. Read More