Introducing Civic Exchange
Last autumn, we launched a platform called Europe Commons as part of Nesta’s Code for Europe project. While the core programme supports local government in developing digital solutions for civic problems, we also wanted to encourage the reuse of effective apps and services with a dedicated online resource.
Today, we’re excited to launch the newest version of that platform, along with a brand new name – Civic Exchange – and we need your help to source the most effective digital services from across Europe.
Coding for public good
Hundreds of applications, solving many civic challenges, are being deployed and we want to draw on the experience of these initiatives to enable solutions to scale. Code for America in the US, followed by Code for Europe, Code for Africa and others, have been successful in connecting technologists with civic leaders and growing a global community interested in technology for the public good.
To build on these movements and encourage the replication and scale of successful tools and approaches, Civic Exchange provides an online space where cities can discover and share impactful software.
What's in a name?
Why the name change, you might wonder? Well, after much discussion and debate, we simply decided we needed a name that better described the purpose of the platform.
There are more similarities than differences in the challenges faced by cities. Yet we still see lots of reinventing of (technological) wheels, rather than scaling and improving on great ideas. Therefore, we wanted to focus on the sharing and exchange of digital software with a proven track record – hence the new title, Civic Exchange.
Through our research we’ve discovered that what’s most important to understand is the civic issues around a digital service, and how it tackles those. With that in mind the focus of Civic Exchange is on civic problems and solutions, rather than standalone software.
We’re aware too that with new technology, going first isn’t always easy. Without proof of impact, creating the business case for implementation can be challenging. That’s why we’re also focusing on software that has evidence it can achieve its aims - whether that be reducing costs, increasing efficiency, or creating social impact.
We need you
So this is where we now need your help. We’re launching a campaign to elicit the most effective apps and digital services that are helping to improve public services in Europe, and we’re looking for any suggestions that you might have about those you have come across.
We’re hoping to find apps or digital services across any sector – from health to tourism to employment – that help improve the lives of citizens (view details for our desired criteria on the right, or click here).
We fully support open innovation, but we also believe it’s important to showcase proprietary systems if they have created a positive impact on public services – so we’re looking for both open source and proprietary software, as well as both government and third party-created services.
Getting in touch
If you have any suggestions, we’d love to hear from you. You can send us an email at [email protected] or tweet us via @CivExchange. We’ll be using the general #tech4good hashtag for our campaign, so please follow us for updates along the way.
You can also add your own civic apps and digital services to Civic Exchange – you just need to register for an account.
Over the next few months we’ll be adding new entries to the site and building a series of evidence-based case studies to showcase the most impactful civic software. Our aim is that Civic Exchange can then be used as an accurate, reliable and evidence-driven resource for anybody wanting to improve public services using proven digital tools.
That way, we can help to spread technology for better government.