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What’s New in Civic Tech: NYC Solicits Input for Digital.nyc

Plus, Code for America teams with the U.S. Treasury Department on a tax portal, Pittsburgh launches a new public health dashboard with an equity focus, and North Carolina promotes rural broadband work.

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The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) will soon relaunch Digital.nyc — which is an online hub for the tech community in the nation’s largest city — and before it does, the developers would like your help.

The group is soliciting input from any and all interested parties as it goes about initiating this relaunch.

“We want to hear from you, our colleagues across the tech community — current and past program partners, participants, and other NYC tech stakeholders — about the future of tech in New York City, and how a resource like Digital.nyc can support the ecosystem moving forward,” the group wrote in an email distributing the survey.

The survey itself takes five to 10 minutes, and the deadline for completing it is Tuesday, Aug. 31. As currently constituted, Digital.nyc functions as a hub for the tech ecosystem in New York City, which is among the largest such communities in the world. From the page, users can find resources related to startups, investors, job searches, event schedules and more. (Zack Quaintance)

CODE FOR AMERICA TEAMS WITH TREASURY DEPARTMENT FOR NEW TAX BUSINESS PORTAL


Code for America (CfA), the nation’s leading civic tech organization, has teamed with the U.S. Department of the Treasury to build a new portal that aims to make it easier for families with low incomes to access federal tax benefits.

The portal, dubbed GetCTC, will be free, mobile-friendly, and available in both English and Spanish. Work on the portal is well underway, and it is currently being tested and refined, with a public launch slated to happen in the coming weeks.

“GetCTC will make it easy for families with low or no incomes to get the flexible cash they deserve — including the Advance Child Tax Credit and any of the three rounds of stimulus payments they may have missed out on,” Code for America wrote in an email announcing the project.

The GetCTC portal, the email also noted, is designed to ask users questions with straightforward and user-friendly language, guiding clients through simple questions designed to determine eligibility. The portal also automatically calculates the Recovery Rebate Credit while offering those who visit support via chat.

There is also an outreach component to this new portal, with CfA also announcing that the group plans to work with community-based organizations that can leverage existing trust and relationships to reach users who might otherwise miss the platform. To do this, CfA will provide training materials and other resources to the groups, coordinating with the White House and the Treasury Department to do so. More information about the portal can be found via CfA’s blog.

Emphasizing the importance of the work, the group points out that as many as 4 million families who don’t file taxes — in large part because they don’t earn enough money to be required to — are missing out on benefits. The portal is part of ongoing efforts by the government to connect these people with the benefits for which they are eligible. (Zack Quaintance)

PITTSBURGH LAUNCHES A PUBLIC HEALTH RESOURCE WITH AN EQUITY FOCUS


Pittsburgh has launched a new public health resource out of the Office of Community Health and Safety (OCH&S), which targets equity and harm reduction in public health, including an Opioid Overdose Dashboard, listings for jobs within the city’s health department and public service announcements. Interested parties can find it now at pittsburghpa.gov/ochs.

Most relevant for civic technologists is perhaps how the Opioid Overdose Dashboard utilizes color coding on a map to share data regarding the number of opioid overdoses as well as the characteristics of individuals affected, including age, gender and race. It also details the number of overdoses per police zone and council district. The data is broken down by month to underline trends. (Julia Edinger)

NORTH CAROLINA PROMOTES RURAL BROADBAND CONNECTIVITY WORK


North Carolina has declared this Rural Broadband Week in order to bring awareness to the state of broadband access in rural areas.

Through Aug. 20, the North Carolina Department of Information Technology is shedding light on investments made for broadband infrastructure and digital skills in rural areas. Another priority will be bringing attention to the remaining gaps in achieving equitable broadband access.

As the announcement details, over 30 percent of households in rural areas do not have access to high-speed broadband infrastructure. Rural Broadband Week is one part of a larger plan to bridge the state’s digital divide — an effort that is amplified by the state’s recently established Office of Digital Equity and Literacy. (Julia Edinger)
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.