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What’s New in Civic Tech: Digital Equity in San Jose, Calif.

Plus, the annual Code for America Summit moves coasts in 2020, Pittsburgh’s Data Day event will focus on the upcoming 2020 Census, and this October is once again Cybersecurity Month across the country.

San Jose, Calif., has opened up applications for $1 million in grants related to digital equity and digital inclusion.

San Jose Chief Innovation Officer Shireen Santosham tweeted the link to the application this week, describing it as a “dream come true” and the results of “rolling up our sleeves and working” with community stakeholders for the past four years. Applications are due at 5 p.m. on Nov. 15.

This grant application is part of a larger cross-sector effort in the Northern California city, dubbed the Digital Inclusion Partnership, which officials say will see $24 million in grants go toward this issue over the next 10 years.

The goals of this campaign are to see 50,000 new households get high-speed Internet access in San Jose over that time period, as well as to ensure that the people living in those homes have the digital skills and abilities they need to utilize the technology in a way that enables them to benefit as much as everyone else.

The $24 million for the grantmaking is being raised through cooperation between the public and private sectors, with $14 million in funding slated to come from partnerships with telecommunication companies. San Jose has also earmarked some of its infrastructure to hasten 5G small cell deployment capable of supporting digital equity programs. In addition, officials are working to raise another $10 million from private donors. 

For this first round of grants, nonprofits, public agencies and education entities are eligible to apply. The caveats are that they must work to address digital equity and inclusion while also providing services related but not limited to education, workforce development, homelessness, health care, affordable housing, emergency preparedness or other social services. 

Annual Code for America Summit Moves to Washington, D.C., in 2020

Code for America’s annual summit, which is one of the largest regular events in all of civic tech, will be held in Washington, D.C., in 2020. 

The exact dates for the event are March 11 through Friday, March 13, and the exact location is at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va. This marks a cross-country and a seasonal move for the event, which in recent years has been held near the group’s headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area toward the end of May.

In addition to announcing the date and the time of the event, the group has also opened the application process up for panel proposals, informational sessions and lightning talks. A simple three-step application process is accessible via the group’s website. Code for America, a nonpartisan and nonprofit civic tech organization, will be curating a selection of roughly 40 one-hour sessions and 16 lightning talks, noting that it expects to feature a wide and diverse selection of speakers from around the world.

There are four programming tracks to pick from, and those are design and delivery; civic innovation and data; operations and management; and technology and policy.

More information about this year’s event, which is titled 10 Years of Designing Better Government, can be found on the official summit website.

Pittsburgh’s Data Day Event Will Focus on the 2020 Census

The Pittsburgh-based event Data Day, which is a “celebration of the many ways that civic open data influences and shapes our community,” will focus on the 2020 U.S. Census, which is the first high-tech count in the nation’s history.

Data Day is made possible through a partnership between the University of Pittsburgh Center for Social and Urban Research — which houses the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center — and the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, at the main Oakland library in Pittsburgh.

There are three key points about the Census that it will work to share and address, those being where and when members of the community can participate in the Census; how Census data is used to help both the public and private sector better serve communities daily; and how interested parties can volunteer or obtain paid work related to making sure the areas where they live are accurately counted. 

Events like this are likely to become more common as the Census gets closer. With the federal government providing less support for this year’s Census than it has during past counts, grassroots efforts — as well as programs at the state and local government levels — are taking hold across the country.

What also makes this Census perhaps even more important than those that have come before it is the increasing value of data. Businesses and governments use data about communities more than they ever have before, and the more precise it is, the better the odds are that your neighborhood will have the trash pickup it needs, or that a big company will open the stores you wish you could have right on your block.

In addition, this being the first high-tech Census is a daunting prospect for the 2020 count, with many experts in the space stressing the need for better awareness of concepts like digital equity as March and April draw closer. Events like this one seek to recruit workers and volunteers to help with all that, as well as to get accurate and helpful information out into communities. 

October is Cybersecurity Month

Finally, October is here again, which also means the return of cybersecurity month.

All month long, many state and local governments will be working to raise awareness of cybersecurity, cyberdefense and related issues in their jurisdictions. This is taking different forms across the country, ranging from informational sessions at public libraries to quick tips on social media.

Check the Web platforms of your own local and state governments for more information about what’s happening near you.

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.