IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

What’s New in Civic Tech: Gov2Go Expands to Colorado

Plus, Barbara Bush Foundation sponsors adult learning app competition; Sacramento’s Civic Lab celebrates its inaugural graduating class; City Innovate looks to hire a program director for its Startup in Residence Program; and civic tech continues to go to the dogs.

Residents of Colorado can now use Gov2Go, a tech platform that most notably allows residents to skip trips to the Department of Motor Vehicles and instead get their vehicle tag renewals done digitally.

Through the app, users can create profiles and enable reminders about when tags are due, as well as having the ability to complete the renewal transaction online from their device. Residents can then also use their devices to show their stored electronic receipts until their tags arrive in the mail. Colorado announced that the functionality is live and ready to be downloaded this month.

Gov2Go also has other applications past those related to vehicle tag renewal — although that is certainly a major part of the appeal. In addition, however, citizens can use it to get information about elections, government holidays, AMBER alerts, as well as to buy digital passes to federal parks in Colorado, including the Colorado National Monument.

Gov2Go is now being used in some capacity within all 50 states. NIC Inc., a major provider of digital government solutions and payment processing, is facilitating Gov2Go’s use in Colorado. The platform also marks the latest development in an ongoing trend that has seen agencies at all levels of government identifying more as customer service organizations. Whereas in the past most services were designed with the needs of institutions in mind, services like Gov2Go are being created to make life easier for residents.

Barbara Bush Foundation sponsors adult learning app competition

The Barbara Bush Foundation is sponsoring a $7 million app competition aimed at facilitating the creation of programs on mobile devices that can increase literacy among adult learners.

Dubbed The Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE, this global competition aims to foster solutions to overcome barriers in literacy, with an envisioned goal of empowering roughly one in 10 low-literate adults in the United States with better skills. At the American Library Association Annual Conference in New Orleans on Friday, June 22, the competition will announce a list of finalists before launching the contest’s second phase: a $1 million communities competition which involves piloting programs by recruiting low-literacy adults to download and use the apps.

This marks the final narrowing of competitors. One grand prize winner will eventually receive $3 million, while up to five finalists will be awarded $100,000 each. More information is available here.

Sacramento’s Civic Lab celebrates its inaugural class

Sacramento’s Civic Lab is celebrating its first class of graduates.

Civic Lab, which brings together cross-disciplinary teams to tackle issues of transportation and land use, involves piloting innovative solutions with the potential to have regional impact. A project from the Sacramento Area Council of Governments, the Civic Lab aspires to be a place where public agencies can test and find innovative work. In April, leaders announced $1 million would go to pilot Civic Lab projects, which will grow out of the graduating class.

Participants in Civic Lab received assistance with their projects via half- and full-day workshops, as well as through training with local experts, national leaders, decision-makers and proven innovators. This cohort process spans eight months of training.

Following graduation, participating teams will share lessons with regional peers and help to provide technical assistance for other pilot projects. Civic Lab year two is slated to begin this fall.

There were eight graduating teams this year, and their work covered a diverse range of topics, from transportation to air quality to agritourism.

City Innovate looks to hire a program director to lead its Startup in Residence Program

City Innovate is looking to hire a program director to lead its Startup in Residence Program (STiR), a national effort to help governmental organizations and local startup companies do a better job of collaborating with each other.

The program director would be based out of San Francisco, which was also the birthplace of the program back in 2014. Since its start, STiR has involved more than 50 startup companies, expanded to more than a dozen cities and recently set a goal of reaching 100 jurisdictions in the next five years. Projects born out of STiR have long been diverse, ranging from improving 311 efficiency to helping cities round up lists of buildings for hurricane damage assessment.

In a Medium post announcing the position, organizers stressed that they want a candidate who can help with the expansion of the program in the coming years. Simply put, the posting makes clear that, “The candidate will support our mission to help government become more accessible and responsive to its constituents.”

Other responsibilities will include managing the cash flow of the program, applying for federal grants, coordinating marketing efforts, identifying partnership opportunities, onboarding government and private-sector partners and more.

Civic tech continues to go to the dogs

We’ve written in the past about how civic technologists in jurisdictions ranging from New York City to Anchorage, Alaska, have developed maps to visualize popular dog names.

Well, a team of teen coders in Arlington, Texas, have continued to push this important work as part of the Arlington Public Library’s Coding with Robots Program. They’ve created a new level of dog name civic tech by building the data set into an interactive game.

The responsible team consisted of five members in grades eight through 10, and they based their Dog Name Game on pet names listed in the Arlington Animal Services’ pet licensing database. The game consists of 10 questions about which dog names are most popular in Arlington. Players can pick between an easy and hard setting. All the questions are essentially the same format: the game lists two pet names from the database and players must guess which one is most popular. If they get it right, the game throws them a bone.

Perhaps most importantly, the final screen gives players their scores, along with a link to adopt a pet or to license or renew their dog so that their own pet’s name will be included in the game.

Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.