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Accela guest blogger and EfficientGov columnist, Derek Porter, reviews key learnings from the largest civic tech conference. California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom addresses barriers to innovation.

Accela Engage brings together more than 1,000 agency customers, government leaders, partners and Accela staff for the nation’s biggest civic technology conference. This week-long event is dedicated to focused learning on new and better ways to use civic tech to improve core processes and better engage with citizens. But it also engages government technology practitioners in building for success in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

A New Vision for Civic Tech

The top takeaway from this year’s conference in Los Angeles, Calif., was that civic tech innovations have helped us fundamentally shift the way we understand our world and our place in it.

California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom spoke passionately about:

  • Cutting wasteful tech spending
  • Breaking down barriers to transparency
  • Connecting citizens to critical services

These “three pillars” are crucial for open data and improvements to state procurement in the long term, he said.

Newsom emphasized the leadership commitment that governments need to support innovative solutions, especially from legislators and middle managers. They need to keep innovation top of mind as to work within diminishing budgets while assuming greater responsibilities to serve constituents and collaborate with partners.

The Lieutenant Governor said that to truly address the lack of transparency and wasteful spending in government, change first needs to occur at a fundamental level. This is especially true when you consider that current laws and regulations can make it difficult for governments to embrace transparency without becoming non-compliant.

To generate greater awareness, Newsom encouraged civic leaders to openly discuss these issues with citizens and the media. Proponents of change can help by simply putting a spotlight on the barriers preventing state and local governments from adopting civic tech that increases engagement and transparency.

Civic Tech Enabling Local Government

The event also provided examples of how the latest advances in civic technology are helping local governments engage with its citizens and become more efficient at delivering services.

In particular, big data applications were ever present at the conference to showcase transparency in government.

Moreover, data processing applications that provide analysis, curation, search, sharing, storage, visualization of data helped illustrate how technology can be used to make agencies more efficient.

Such applications provide local governments with relevant and timely information so staff can make informed decisions as it relates to citizen services.

This post first appeared on EfficientGov.


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