Has there ever been a better time to be involved with technology in the government space? Maybe not. Like all overnight sensations that have been years in the making, civic tech or gov tech — we like that one best — suddenly is cool.
Venture capital is flowing to startups focused on solving government problems, bringing new ideas and vitality to the market. A nationwide army of citizen coders is partnering with innovation-minded public officials and delivering impressive results. The cloud, open source software and predictive analytics continue to evolve and mature, offering new ways to strengthen public programs and services.
Our Doers, Dreamers and Drivers for 2015 are in the thick of this shift. This year’s list includes a California-based entrepreneur who recently placed a $23 million bet on new companies in the gov tech space, along with the founder of a social platform widely used by local agencies that’s now valued at more than $1 billion. It also includes government innovation and performance officers who are reinventing how agencies acquire and use technology, as well as how they measure the results. And, of course, it includes CIOs and elected officials who are transforming the bedrock systems and infrastructure that power government service delivery and public safety. (You can meet them all, starting on page 14.)
The stature of this work has been on a pronounced upward trend over the past few years. Groups like Code for America and a number of foundations — Knight, Sunlight and the aptly named Information Technology and Innovation — have done yeoman’s work in catalyzing interest and bringing new blood into the government technology space. Our sister organizations — the Center for Digital Government and the startup e.Republic Labs — have helped convene like-minded people on forward-leaning efforts in states and localities. Civic tech or gov tech is even getting positive attention in the mainstream press.
But using innovative technology and ideas to solve community problems and provide crucial services has always been a big deal. One of the reasons we launched the GT Top 25 in 2002 was to give well deserved recognition to public-sector visionaries and their partners who are doing great work, but too often fly under the radar.
It’s great to see heightened interest in public-sector technology, and we applaud the spread of a civic-minded entrepreneurial spirit that’s attracting new players and participants. Like you, we were gov tech before gov tech was cool. And like you, we’re happy to share the stage with those who are making the movement stronger, louder and prouder.