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Information-Sharing Platform Civic Roundtable Raises $5M

The startup brings public officials together to share expertise and advice about cybersecurity, elections management and other issues that can challenge government agencies. Veterans of Mark43 help run the company.

Civic Roundtable, a startup that focuses on helping public officials build information-sharing networks, has raised a $5 million seed round led by venture capital firm General Catalyst.

The money will go toward expansion as Civic Roundtable continues to encourage its participants — using a platform that company officials say is akin to a combination of Reddit and LinkedIn — to collaborate and share expertise about such issues as homelessness, economic development, cybersecurity and election administration.

Some 5,000 users from more than 500 government agencies have accessed the platform, company officials told Government Technology. Civic Roundtable’s goal is to “empower more effective and innovative government,” said Madeleine Smith, co-founder and CEO.

That means thinking of government as a team sport, and offering a platform where public officials can share experiences and advice when it comes to complex, multi-department issues such as reducing homelessness. That effort typically requires grants, census taking, social services, law enforcement and other actions.

As co-founder Josh Seiden put it to Government Technology, Civic Roundtable wants to offer “one-stop shopping” to its clients — reflecting a big, emerging trend in the wider industry — saving them the time and energy from having to hunt down information from various sources.

Civic Roundtable launched in 2022, an outgrowth of work done at the Harvard Innovation Labs, and now employs former government workers and veterans of public safety technology vendor Mark43.

Civic Roundtable is positioning itself as at least a partial solution to staffing shortages among public agency tech departments — an issue that has sparked innovation and improvisation among governments.

The company expects to be especially busy this year during elections and getting election officials up to speed quickly about the particulars of their jobs.

As company officials point out, running elections comes with high turnover and labor shortages — plus the added challenge in 2024 of partisan pressure and attacks on election officials, and the need to set up defenses against sophisticated hackers.
Thad Rueter writes about the business of government technology. He covered local and state governments for newspapers in the Chicago area and Florida, as well as e-commerce, digital payments and related topics for various publications. He lives in Wisconsin.