In honor of the new year, we wanted to reflect on some of the people, podcasts, and platforms, that we’ve learned from and been inspired by in 2018. ViewPoint works to carve out our own mission of digital transformation, but nothing exists in a vacuum, and we’re excited to be surrounded by so many other leaders in the realm of government innovation and technology.
So without further adieu, here are our 10 favorite voices powering government innovation (presented in no particular order):
1. Municipal Equation
Municipal Equation is a podcast about cities and towns in changing times, created by the N.C. League of Municipalities. The subject matters vary, but it’s always clear that this podcast is a passion project for host/producer Ben Brown, where every episode is crafted with care.
If you’re looking for a place to dive in, Municipal Equation produced two episodes on the broadband gap and fast internet service as a necessary infrastructure. Episode 47 brings in the authors of a report on how to leap the digital divide, while Episode 58 digs into the inaccuracies of the the FCC’s map of broadband availability and the ripple effects that has on policy making and funding decisions.
2. The Commons
The Commons is a self-described proverbial town square–a gathering place, a source of affirmation, and a resource for those working every day to improve government services. Led by the Public Interest Technology team at New America, with Editor in Chief Hana Schank and Managing Editor Emma Coleman, this publication is the perfect blend between journalism, academia, personal essays, and straight up practical advice.
Each month dives into one subject matter from many voices, perspectives, and formats, with past topics including “The Hiring Issue”, “The Procurement Issue”, and “The Field Diversity Issue”.
In keeping with their town square persona, the team at The Commons is always looking to feature a diverse range of practitioners and thinkers, so you too could take part!
3. Kirsten Wyatt, ELGL, & GovLove
We really can’t say enough good things about Engaging Local Government Leaders (ELGL)–a marvelous network of people, articles, projects, and events around modern, local government leadership. Much of ELGL’s spirit stems from Executive Director and Co-Founder Kirsten Wyatt bringing energizing people and purpose to the the organization’s mission.
Look to their podcast, GovLove, for interviews with local government folks, and their blog for first-hand perspectives and lessons. With content and connections that emphasize pillars of community, improvement, education, diversity, communication, and joy, ELGL is a space for local government leaders filled with a whole lot of fun!
4. City Lab
Seeing CityLab on this list should come as no surprise. The fact is, they’re a premier platform covering all things urban and city-life. Where else can you read about resident opinions on Amazon HQ2, the rise of “nightlife officials” (not to be called night mayors), graphing cities according to their ratings of Tacos x Public Transit, and a topical study that finds communities of color are more vulnerable to wildfire.
Special shout-out to the CityLab Daily Newsletter Roundup, by Andrew Small, which offers a concise, jovial overview of recent articles
5. Jennifer Pahlka & Code for America
You may have seen Jennifer Pahlka on some other lists of leaders in digital government or from her TedTalk on “Coding a Better Government”. That’s because Pahlka is the Founder and Executive Director of Code for America (CFA), an organization leading the way on using the principles and practices of the digital age to improve how government serves the American public–and how the public improves government.
6. Next City
Next City is a nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire social, economic, and environmental change in cities through journalism and events around the world. They believe in the power of journalism to change things, and their methods are simple: identify innovation in cities, tell the stories of people creating change and how it’s happening, and connecting those stories with communities online and on the ground.
Check out Next City’s website for long-form features covering tech, culture, and infrastructure, ebooks on their case studies, information on the Vanguard conference, and a cross-sectional job board.
7. Ariel Kennan, Sidewalk Labs, & City of the Future
Ariel Kennan brings a spread of multidisciplinary experiences to the table, with an expertise in design and technology focused on government and local communities. Currently serving as the Director of Civic Innovation at Sidewalk Labs, she was previously a Code For America Fellow working with the governments of Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri, and spent four years at New York City’s Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. Follow Ariel on Twitter to learn more about her “Dreams for Design and Digital in Government”.
Sidewalk Labs, too, is dedicated to reimagining how cities can improve quality of life. In addition to their blog covering buildings and land use, urban data, community services, and more, Sidewalk Labs also recently launched a podcast, City of the Future!
City of the Future looks to explore the innovations, ideas, and technologies that are set to transform our cities. The trailer teases of episodes on wooden buildings, streets without sidewalks, bike lanes that melt snow, and underground robots that take away your garbage. The first five episodes are now live and we’re looking forward to seeing what else is in store
Apolitical is a global network dedicated to finding solutions to policy problems. So much of our list contains voices across the United States and Apolitical helps widen our worldview.
Civil servants and policy makers can join Apolitical’s network of individuals sharing inspiration and expertise for free. Even without joining, Apolitical’s social media feeds link out to shareable articles like this piece on “three barriers that hold back government innovation” and crowd-sourced Q&As like “What is GovTech?”.
9. Nick Bowden & Better Planning
Nick Bowden of Better Planning has devoted his career to working at the intersection of technology and cities. His experiences span from public servant to tech company founder and that breadth is evident in his thoughtful curation.
While he doesn’t personally publish as often as some, there’s plenty in Better Planning’s blog backlog with topics like yearly GovTech predictions, and civic engagement. Nick also has a very active Twitter and a ‘Two On Tuesday’ newsletter of “the two most important things to read in the industry, every Tuesday.”
10. GovTech Magazine
Founded in 1987, GovTech Magazine is a leader in industry coverage, aiming to solve problems in local and state governments through the smart use of technology. With a prolific website of govtech and civic tech news, along with their monthly magazine, GovTech runs the gamut of the what and who of digital innovation in government.
Their “Year in Review: The Most Read GovTech Stories of 2018” ” provides a great recap of the type of stories you can expect. While Zack Quaintance’s weekly review of “What’s New in Civic Tech” can keep you up to date going forward.
Think we missed someone? Let us know who, email firstname.lastname@example.org!