On August 17th, I organized and moderated the first event of a speaker series on civic technology and smart cities called POLIS. The event was hosted by General Assembly. The series focuses on the intersection of computational technology, governments, data, and citizenship. The series focuses on themes such as sustaining new civic hacking efforts, emerging modes and sites of engagement, and the role of governments in urban technological change.

For POLIS ONE, the theme was social sustainability within civic technology (“Sustaining the Hack”). From hackathons to monthly meet-ups, many civic tech projects and efforts require volunteer labor and casual, extracurricular involvement. As such, maintaining projects long-term can be a challenge. POLIS ONE featured three speakers grabbling with these issues as different ways.

The full presentation can be found here).

Speaker Bios:

Luigi Ray-Montanez, Co-organizer for Code for Atlanta & Lead Engineer at Vox Media

Luigi is a co-organizer and co-founder of Code for Atlanta, an all-volunteer civic hacking group established in 2014. He also serves on Code for America’s National Advisory Council. During the day, he’s a senior software engineer at Vox Media.

Luigi’s talk focused on the shift in national efforts related to supporting volunteer Code for America brigades.

Shawn Taylor, Co-organizer, Code for Atlanta

Shawn is co-organizer of Code for Atlanta, where she has served for two years. She also works as a front-end developer at cyber security company Cybraics. Her civic interests include parks and elections. Shawn can be found at http://mapsandapps.net/.

Shawn’s talk focused on how to make the best of civic hack nights, and what project management means in the the context incremental improvements.

Mark Noonan, Program Manager, People Making Progress

Mark’s main work is to help adults with developmental disabilities find and maintain employment and live as independently as possible. He also runs the office of a small folk music production company and enjoys the occasional freelance web development project.

He leads a civic hacking project that is working with MARTA towards improving the experience of paratransit users in the Atlanta area.

Mark’s talk focused on sustaining an individual project (MobilityETA) through episodic work and adjusting expectations on the fly.