The Civic Tech Field Guide is led by its Curator, Matt Stempeck. The project’s mission is to effectively grow the field of civic tech. We have many challenges facing democracies and the world at large, and it’s our belief that we need more people contributing more productively to improving things. This belief drives our core values of:
- A global perspective, as we can all learn from others’ work.
- Making our resources as available as possible through open source code, open data licensing, and strong accessibility.
- Inclusively pointing to helpful resources others have created, even and especially if they could be seen as competitors.
- Providing an often missing archival memory of the field, so we can learn from our past mistakes and get better at what we do, rather than brush failures under the carpet.
We take a broad definition of ‘civic tech’: the use of newly available possibilities for the common good. The field has had many names over the years, often driven by powerful actors in the field, and we try not to get bogged down in semantics.
You can learn more about the original motivation for the Civic Tech Field Guide here.
We are fiscally sponsored by Superbloom, a US 501(c)3 nonprofit organization.
History of the Field Guide
The Field Guide was conceived in early 2016 by Micah Sifry, co-founder of Civic Hall, Stempeck (while Director of Civic Technology at Microsoft), and Erin Simpson, then at Civic Hall Labs. This team created the first edition of the Field Guide.
After this initial prototype gained considerable traction and validated the need for the resource, Stempeck developed the project into a full directory in 2018 under the auspices of Civic Hall with support from Knight Foundation, Luminate, and Patrick J. McGovern Foundation.
In 2020, Stempeck spun the project out of Civic Hall and independently sustained it for the next two years. In 2022, the National Endowment for Democracy provided critical support to revamp and activate the project, making its resources readily available to people fighting for democracy all over the world.
Today, the Civic Tech Field Guide is the most comprehensive collection of tech projects for the public interest and democracy, anywhere. Its continued success is thanks to the ongoing leadership by Stempeck and a growing community of contributors.
In addition to everyone who has added to this collection over the years, we’d like to acknowledge and thank the following contributors:
Devin Balkind of Sarapis has architected the migration of the Field Guide from an outdated WordPress directory to a modern, open source knowledgebase, and provided advanced technical resources to the project. All of our improvements in usability, accessibility, design, speed, and ease of curating the collection are thanks to Devin’s initiative.
Benjamin Munyoki has led the software development of our open source Directory app. He is a software engineer specializing in web application development, APIs and Fintech. In the last 8 years, Benjamin has implemented several high profile projects and led teams to deliver products that solve societal problems through technology. He also contributes to open source projects in Fintech, the latest being an Mpesa (mobile money) payments integration package for PHP.
Carmen Maymó contributed an open source script to automatically check the availability of every link in our collection, flag inactive projects, and provide a replacement link from the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine. This has drastically improved our ability to identify inactive projects.
The team at Divao also helps us keep the database fresh by regularly flagging inactive projects.
Mark Renja has reinvigorated our communications campaign, improving both the consistency and quality of our monthly newsletter. Mark is a project manager with Code for Africa’s Engagement team. As an alum of Meta’s 2021/22 Accelerator Challenge for fact-checkers, they help implement growth strategies for PesaCheck – Africa’s largest indigenous fact-checking organisation. They also work with global non-profits Code for All and mySociety to develop accessible products that get the civic tech community to serve more diverse users.
Bharat Kashyap has helped us integrate project screenshots into our data processing pipeline so that in the near future, every listing in the collection will have a representative image to go with it.
The Civic Tech Field Guide also benefits from expert curators who help keep the collection current from their perspectives and expertise within civic tech.
Drones for good: Fatima Sarah Khalid
Get social benefits: Greg Bloom
Civic data: Deblina Mukherjee
Connectivity: Georgia Bullen
Promise trackers: Farhad Souzanchi
Colombia: Juliana Uribe Villegas
Iran: Feiredoon Bashar and ASL19
Chile: Auska Ovando
Poland: Aleksandra Kamihska
Paris and France: Clémence Pène
Australia: The Code for Australia team
South Africa: Melissa Zisengwe and Lailah Ryklief
Tunisia: Wafa Ben-Hassine
United Kingdom: Gemma Humphrys and the mySociety team
México: Alma Rangel and the Codeando México team
Washington, DC: Meag Doherty
As a crowdsourced collection, we try to be as inclusive as possible. Our priority is to focus on projects using tech and innovation to meaningfully shift power in society from the few to the many. We take an intentionally global view in our work, and fight silos of every kind.
We will include projects from across the political spectrum as long as they can inform about the role of technology in democracy.
We will not include projects that:
- are unrelated to this field
- could harm people
- are purely commercial with no apparent public benefit
- don’t want to be found by others
We reserve the right to curate the collection so that it’s of use to our users.
As a policy, we only want to include public projects (publicly available URLs) and we refrain from collecting any personally identifiable information, other than publicly available information about the name of a project’s founder or author, and a contact email address, if the project owner provided it in order to stay in touch.
If you find any information about yourself that you would like removed, simply click the “Suggest a change” button on every listing and make a request, and we will comply.
We reserve the right to catalog publicly available information to better inform the field.
If you find your own project(s) in the collection and would like to improve or update how they are presented, you can click the “Claim This Listing” button on every listing page to get in touch.
Third party services
We use Google Analytics to understand aggregated trends in which content is most popular, Mailchimp to communicate with people who sign up for our email list, and Airtable to collect and organize our database. In all cases we de-activate features that might impinge on user privacy wherever possible.
We’re proud to have been featured and cited in the following books and resources:
- Civic Power, Rebuilding American Democracy in an Era of Crisis
- Power to the Public: The Promise of Public Interest Technology
- A Civic Technologist’s Practice Guide
- The Right to the Smart City
- Rebuilding European Democracy: Resistance and Renewal in an Illiberal Age
- Error 404: ¿Preparados para un mundo sin internet?
- How We Give Now: A Philanthropic Guide for the Rest of Us
- Human Rights Connected Activist Toolkit
- Principles for Digital Development
- Erasmus SALTO Participation Pool
- Develop Impact
- Humboldt University Public Interest AI World Map
- Reset: Was Ist Civic Tech?
- Involve UK
- Transparency for Iran
- Stanford PACS Reclaiming Digital Infrastructure for the Public Interest
Any sponsored promotion on our website or email newsletter will include a “Partner Content” heading to distinguish it from other content.
Editorial inclusion in the Civic Tech Field Guide is not up for sale; projects will be added or excluded based solely on their relevance to the field. As noted above, we take an inclusive but carefully categorized approach to listing projects.
In addition to the Civic Tech Field Guide, Matt Stempeck works part-time or on freelance projects with:
- Librarian, London College of Political Technology at Newspeak House (2023 – )
- Advisory Board, the Civic AI Observatory (2023 – )
- Internal research, Luminate Strategic Initiative (2023)
- Cornell University’s Public Interest Tech program (2020 – )
- mySociety’s TICTeC program (2022 – )
- Bad Idea Factory (2019 – )
- Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (2023): Wrote an essay on civic tech in the US.
Matt has worked with the following organizations related to civic tech, usually on a freelance basis:
- Code for All (2022)
- OEN (2022)
- Mozilla Foundation (2019 – 2021)
- People Powered (2021)
- OECD (2019)
- Civic Hall (2018-2020)
- Knight Foundation (2017)
- Hillary for America (2016)
- Engagement Lab at Emerson College, unpaid advisory board (2016)
- Microsoft Technology & Civic Engagement (2014 – 2017)
- Google Social Impact (2013 – 2014)
- Voto Latino (2014)
- MIT Center for Civic Media (2011 – 2013)
- Personal Democracy Media (2013)
- Youth & Participatory Politics program, MacArthur Foundation (2013)