We consider these categories necessary pre-requisites for effective civic tech. Without digital literacy and access, meaningful representation, trust and safety, or civic literacy, civic tech will not succeed. So while not every project in this section is explicitly ‘civic tech’, they are vital foundational layers to the field.
- Connectivity – If people cannot easily connect to digital tools in an equitable manner, civic tech will fail to address existing power imbalances in society.
- Circumvention – Circumvention tech helps people evade censorship that blocks access to information and communication.
- Digital literacy – The ability to navigate technology and complicated digital contexts is an increasingly necessary skillset for citizens. Digitization of government, online advocacy campaigns, and other civic tech efforts will hit hard limits if the constituency or electorate isn’t comfortable using technology.
- Civic literacy – An education in civics itself, independent of tech, is a necessary precursor to effectively designing and building civic tech. Too many founders jump into democracy and government contexts with a favorite tech solution despite near-total ignorance of those sectors, their histories, or their inner workings. The projects here address traditional civic literacy education, often with a more modern and digital approach.
- Diversity & inclusion – If civic tech is not built by and for a representative portion of society, it cannot hope to legitimately serve the public’s needs. The tech industry’s own failure to recruit and retain a diverse workforce is a big red flag for applying tech to universal applications like government.
- Linguistic representation – Working to ensure indigenous and native languages are represented online and survive the transition to digital.
- Digital security and privacy – People will not (and should not) use tech that’s untrustworthy. Too many tech projects, including civic tech projects, have abused user privacy and/or failed users in providing a secure user experience. Anyone advocating for increasing digitization of government, social benefits, or public conversation should invest in strong digital security and privacy-respecting approach from the onset and on an ongoing basis, as this area evolves rapidly.
- Assistive and Accessible Tech – The web and other technologies should be accessible to all people. The ability to use technology regardless of disability or status is a fundamental precursor to that technology serving civic goals.