Tiago PeixotoLast week, we announced the keynote speakers for TICTeC, the Impacts of Civic Technology conference 2017.

Now we’re going to look at each of them in more depth, starting with Tiago Carneiro Peixoto of the World Bank. His keynote is titled (Un)Civic Tech? and will be looking at how sometimes, despite high hopes, civic technologies don’t deliver everything that’s been hoped for.

Most importantly, Tiago will examine the tangible effects of civic tech on participation, inclusiveness, and governmental action — and then go on to outline which research agendas we should be pursuing now.

We zipped a few questions across to Tiago and he was happy to give us some answers.


(Un)Civic Tech? — that’s quite a bold title, given that your listeners will all be people working in the arena of Civic Tech and with a strong belief in its power to do good! Should we be worried?

Actually my initial title was “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly of Civic Tech”, so it’s not all just bad and ugly. But no, you shouldn’t be worried. Unless you are extremely prone to confirmation bias!

TICTeC is all about assessing the impacts of Civic Technology, making you a particularly relevant speaker. What measures does the World Bank have in place in order to assess the impact of the work that it does?

The measures depend on the problem at hand.

But some of the recurrent measures we look at are related to the effects of technology on uptake, inclusiveness, citizens’ decision-making, and governments’ responsiveness.

For those who are getting started on the subject, I would suggest taking a look at one of our recent publications, Evaluating Digital Citizen Engagement: A Practical Guide.

It’s time to focus on government responsiveness.

Part of our work can also be found at the Open Government Research Exchange, which is a partnership between GovLab, mySociety, and the World Bank’s Digital Engagement Evaluation Team.

But the best illustration of our measures and findings — which will be presented later this year — are not public yet. So, for those who would like to see it first-hand, I would suggest they come to Florence for TICTeC.

What do you perceive to be the value of TICTeC?

One of the key values of TICTeC is that it is convened by mySociety — which, since its creation, has been one of the leading organisations actually doing civic technology work.

The curation of the conference by mySociety’s team, combined with mySociety’s reputation and network, naturally tends to draw the participation of high-level researchers who are more likely to be dealing with concrete problems in the civic tech space.

What are you looking forward to getting out of the conference yourself?

Of course, I’m very curious to see the research that will be presented at the conference, and how it has evolved in relationship to previous conferences.

I am also very interested in meeting new researchers and exploring venues for collaboration with them. But I hope that the conference is also an opportunity to collectively move towards a more coordinated and problem-driven research agenda.

TICTeC brings together researchers and practitioners in Civic Tech. If you could give a single message to the community, what would it be?

It’s time to focus on government responsiveness.

You’ve done some interesting work with FixMyStreet data. What did you discover there?

We are happy to have conducted what is, to our knowledge, the first empirical work examining the effect of government responsiveness on citizens’ participation.

The fact that we did this in collaboration with mySociety and using FixMyStreet data is something we are particularly proud of.

We are now looking into other issues, such as predictors of government responsiveness. In other words, what makes governments “tick”? Does it matter who you are for governments to respond?

While these may seem like trivial questions, they have important implications for the design and performance of solutions like FixMyStreet. I don’t want to anticipate our preliminary findings now, but I will certainly do so at TICTeC.

 

So there you have it: several more good reasons to book your ticket for TICTeC now.

Or, if you have something to say, why not submit an abstract?

Check back soon for our Q and A with TICTeC’s other keynote, Audrey Tang.


image: Pank Seelen (CC by-nc/2.0)

Original source – mySociety

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