As part of a series, I invite social innovators who are creating and who are interested in a variety of civic and social projects to share their thoughts.
1. What are you currently most passionate about?
Political and social engagement and how they can be used to improve quality of life
2. What are the key areas you focus on?
Democratic process and civic technology.
3. What is one project you are working on and why?
Using housing data to explain the current issues with affordable housing and homelessness in Toronto and to support broader public advocacy and political engagement on the issue.
4. What are a few challenges and how will you address them?
A complex policy narrative that includes three levels of government, the private and non-profit sectors and political stasis on the issue. We will address this by telling the story in a number of different ways using different tools – analysis, writing, maps, interactive media, apps etc.
5. What are a few successes and how did you achieve them?
Attracting a broad range of participants to work on the project. We succeeded in illustrating the opportunity to play a role in education and advocacy on a topic that a lot of people want to support and were inclusive in our communications to people who wanted to join.
6. What is sustainability to you and how would you envision achieving it?
Seeing tech and data work integrated within the policy, journalism and academic fields. Seeing these sectors having adequate funding to support policy-driven use of technology and data and to hire tech talent to participate in core work.
7. What advice do you have for someone interested in your areas of focus?
Civic tech is at least 90% policy and maybe 10% tech. Technology will not solve human problems. When doing work in civic tech make sure that those you intend to serve are at the center of your process; citizens and policy experts are two vital groups to engage.
8. What do you want to ask for that you don’t currently have? (in relation to your focus area or project)
Broader tenant and policy stakeholder participation.
9. Who is your current favorite socially driven person, organization or project and why?
Neville Park – a writer that covers City Hall and makes City Council accessible to people through writing and live-tweeting and also writes great primers on important social issues. Neville’s writing is clean, clear and engaging, you can find it here: Nevillepark.ca and on Twitter