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What’s New in Civic Tech: 18F Seeks Executive Director

Plus, Chattanooga, Tenn., launches a policing and racial equity dashboard for residents; 20 millennials and Gen Z leaders are selected as emerging cities champions by the Knight Foundation; and more.

now hiring
The federal tech consultancy 18F is searching for a new executive director, with applications for the Washington, D.C., posting remaining open until Friday, Aug. 28. 

The executive director job is, as the name suggests, essentially 18F’s leader, with the responsibilities for the gig including overseeing the consulting organization’s work to improve how public servants and the federal government use technology. As the posting notes, this job involves, “advocating for an iterative, human-centered approach to building and buying software in government, and running the cost-recoverable consulting organization as a business.”

Indeed, one of 18F’s primary functions is to help the federal agencies that it partners with get better at building, buying and using human-centered technology, with an emphasis on bridging gaps between government and the people or organizations it is meant to serve.

Most recently, Brian Whittaker has been serving as the acting executive director of 18F, doing so since February 2020, which is when the previous executive director, Angela Colter, departed, having held the position since June 2018. 

18F is housed within the General Service Administration’s Technology Transformation Services. It was created in March 2014, organized as it was in the aftermath of the troubles with the rollout. In recent years, there has been an emphasis within 18F on moving away from building products for the agencies that it works with, instead working to help those same agencies build their own capacity. 

Interested parties can still apply for the 18F executive director position through the online job posting.

Chattanooga, Tenn., Launches Policing and Racial Equity Dashboard

Chattanooga, Tenn., has launched a policing and racial equity dashboard through the Chattanooga Open Data Portal.

Data being looked at and visualized through this new dashboard includes citations, arrests, use-of-force incidents and citizen complaints. The dashboard takes a high-level view of the information that it’s looking to convey to users by breaking down data and stats at Census tract level. The data within this dashboard is aggregated from January 2018 to present. 

There are two key visualizations found within this dashboard. The first is the high-level Census tract map, which includes five layers. Those layers are Black-white per capita differential, arrests per capita, white arrests per capita, Black arrests per capita and arrests per incident. The other map includes use of force per capita, use of force per capita white only, use of force per capita Black only and use of force per incident.

In addition to the maps, the dashboard features easy-to-read visualizations of high-level summaries of police data such as 911 incidents, citations, arrests, use-of-force incidents and citizen complaints. Those same categories are also given individual sections with their own summaries and graphs.

The creation of this dashboard comes amid growing national outcry over police use of force against Black residents and a national spotlight on the Black Lives Matter movement.

20 Millennials, Gen Z Leaders Picked as Emerging Cities Champions 

The Knight Foundation has selected 20 millennials and Gen Z leaders as emerging cities champions this year.

These leaders will each receive $5,000 of seed funding, as well as a year of training, both of which are aimed at helping them carry out “bold and creative project ideas to build equitable and inclusive American cities,” Knight officials wrote in an announcement. These 2020 Emerging City Champions are all civic innovators, and officials say they will be working on reimagining public spaces, urban mobility and civic engagement, among other issues. 

In addition, many of the projects that the young innovators will be working on will be direct responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the ongoing national reckoning on race. Example projects so far include an outdoor classroom pilot in Detroit; a plan to make parks more welcoming in Macon, Ga.; and work to improve walking trails and bike paths in Charlotte, N.C.

This marks the Knight Foundation's sixth class of Emerging Cities Champions, with a new one being named each year dating back to 2015. As such, there are now more than 100 alumni of the program, and past recipients have gone on to found nonprofit organizations, create businesses and work to influence governmental policies. 

The age range for these recipients is 19 to 35, and they must come from and be active in the 26 communities where the Knight Foundation invests. They will start to implement their projects as of September 2020, with much of the work growing out of ongoing projects.

Net Inclusion Webinar Series Coming in September

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance’s (NDIA) Net Inclusion Conference is one of the signature events of the digital inclusion community, but this year, due to COVID-19, the conference had to cancel its original dates in the spring.

Instead, the NDIA will be hosting the Net Inclusion 2020 Webinar Series, in lieu of an in-person conference. The series will consist of eight one-hour webinars slated to take place at 2 p.m. ET on Wednesdays. The first webinar will take place on Wednesday, Sept. 16, and the series will run through Wednesday, Nov. 4. 

All of these webinars will also include an optional 30-minute wrap-up segment for informational conversation between panelists and participants, much like one would get informally at an in-person conference. The webinars will also be interactive panel discussions with experts in the space. 

Interested parties can check the webinar series webpage for upcoming panelist announcements, and they can also use that same page to register for the series.

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine