“We need to empower a new generation of technologists who want to work for the public good”

Public Interest Technology is not a luxury for only some universities, Andreen Soley writes. Instead, we need to create a broad-based network of universities to grow a civic technology field that reflects student demographic trends.   The demographics of high school graduates are shifting fast. Over the next 10-15 years, Hispanic high school graduates are

Why We Should Teach Public Policy Students More about Technology (and Coding)

What responsibility do universities have in preparing public policy students for a world increasing informed by data and technology? David Eaves, a lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and Ben McGuire, a Kennedy School student delve into this issue.   Over the last several years, a fascinating trend has emerged among students applying

Procurement resources

We’ve pulled together a list of places to help those working in government rethink their procurement processes. These are just a starting point. If you have an undiscovered procurement gem, please tweet us @wearecommons and let us know!   Getting Started 18F’s guide to Modular Contracting and Agile Delivery provides many resources for those looking

If you try to procure without risk, in the end, you’re more likely to fail

Michael Knapp is the CEO and founder of Green River, a software design and development firm that has worked extensively with local governments. He is passionate about social justice, and his firm’s most prominent recent project has involved working with cities to end homelessness. We spoke with him about his experiences with the government procurement

Tackling Homelessness in Seattle with Data-Driven Tools

The city of Seattle, Wash, has been changing the way they deal with homeless populations, and gathering data to drive some evidenced-based solutions. Now, with clear incentives and data collection, employees have a path forward for helping the homeless. But will it work? Journalist Rebecca Gale investigates.   Homelessness was on the rise in Seattle. In 2015,

To upgrade government technology, build a better procurement toolkit

Mariel Reed served as an Innovation Strategist for the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, where she helped grow Startup in Residence into a national network connecting cities with startups. She recently founded CoProcure to help local governments find, buy, and share high-quality technology products from a more diverse group of vendors via streamlined,

A one-year model doesn’t make sense

The city of Austin, TX, has been iterating their tech and innovation hiring practices and has just completed a restructure that moves from a fellowship model to one that will integrate technologists into city positions. We sent The Commons co-editor Sara Hudson to learn more about how they hire and get buy-in from city agencies.

We can’t promise them all jobs after, but at the very least, we get some work done

Nigel Jacob is the Co-founder of the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, a civic innovation incubator and R&D Lab within Boston’s City Hall. He is a former Urban Technologist-in-Residence at Living Cities, currently a board member of Code For America and coUrbanize, and is an Executive-in-Residence at Boston University. We spoke with Nigel twice,