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What’s New in Civic Tech: NYC Peoples’ Tech Assemblies

Plus, Ohio broadband program is now accepting grants; a new report examines the role of libraries nationwide in closing the digital divide; and New York extends the deadline for a fintech innovation challenge.

New York City
A group of government agencies and civic tech groups in New York City has launched the Peoples’ Tech Assemblies, a program that asks residents of the city to take part in online and offline assembly events related to public interest technology.

Other components of the program include a community survey of technology needs as well as on-going virtual public discourse slated to continue through October 2021. The groups involved with organizing the NYC Peoples’ Tech Assemblies include the New York City Office of the Public Advocate, the Office of the Manhattan Borough President, BetaNYC, New America’s Public Interest Technology team, the Urban Tech Hub at the Jacobs Cornell-Technion Institute, the CUNY College of Staten Island, CivStart, and also a collection of individuals who serve as advisers and facilitators.

As noted above, the three main components of the NYC Peoples’ Tech Assemblies are events, the community survey and the public discourse, all of which are slated to continue through October. The next phase for this project following the group ideation is another period of synthesis and analysis in the service of crafting challenge statements to push New York City to action. All outputs from this work will eventually be made available to the public in a transparent way to be used, published and organized around.

Essentially, the Peoples’ Tech Assemblies is a platform that is serving as a central hub for civic technologists and others in adjacent groups to get input and feedback on the work. On the platform’s homepage, interested parties can find the projects that are currently active.

From there, users can find the projects’ different modes of engagement, with ways for doing so that include adding an idea, commenting on proposals, joining votes, taking surveys and more. There is also a list of upcoming events. (Zack Quaintance)


Ohio has announced the launch of the Ohio Residential Broadband Expansion Grant Program this week, which is accepting applications as of Monday. Internet service providers can apply for the grants online until Nov. 8.

The program, which will be funded through the state’s operating budget for 2022 through 2023, will offer $250 million in grants to Internet service providers. According to the announcement, about one million Ohioans lack access to broadband Internet. The grants will enable Internet service providers to build broadband infrastructure projects in unserved and underserved areas.

More information on the program can be found on BroadbandOhio’s website. (Julia Edinger)


A new report from the Public Library Association uses national survey data to examine the role of public libraries in the effort to achieve digital equity.

The 2020 Public Library Technology Survey report detailed that over half of public libraries report circulating some type of technology, from hot spots to laptops, for patrons. Additionally, over 88 percent of all public libraries offer some type of digital literacy programming.

The report also explores library offerings of other emerging technologies, like virtual reality headsets, showing that a gap currently exists between city and rural area offerings in this space. Additionally, the report found over 1 in 5 libraries offer information or classes related to emerging tech, including robotics, 3D printing and coding. (Julia Edinger)


Organizers are extending the deadline for the NYC[x] Inclusive Innovation Challenge, which is aimed at deploying civic technologists to help address the many barriers experienced by unbanked and underbanked residents of the nation’s largest city.

The premise of this challenge is a simple one — participants showcase project ideas around the unifying unbanked theme, and then the winners get up to $20,000 in prize money to make their ideas a reality. The deadline has now been extended, and the contest will run through Sept. 20.

The challenge statement for this contest is, “How might we utilize breakthrough financial inclusion technology, innovative models and culturally relevant approaches to build community wealth and sustainable economic opportunities for unbanked and underbanked communities in the Bronx and across New York City?”

More information can be found on the challenge website. (Zack Quaintance)
Associate editor for Government Technology magazine
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.