I attended a fantastic event last week, hosted by the Clinic’s good friend (and soon-to-be colleague) Susan Crawford at Columbia University‘s Tow Center For Digital Journalism. The event followed a series of workshops that Susan hosted at the Tow Center, with generous support from the Ford Foundation, aimed at answering the following question: “What could a university center do to advance policymaking and planning for fiber-optic networks that provide everyone in the United States with high-speed Internet access and (a) improve local governance and (b) support civic journalism?”
Last week’s event saw Susan weaving together disparate strains of thinking that had emerged during the preceding workshops about technology, cities, civic engagement, big data, trust, privacy, and the transformative power of fiber-based communications networks. She connected these strains eloquently in her remarks with an extended music metaphor that drew on her own experience as a musician and the product of a musical household.
Susan’s talk segued into an inspiring discussion with an all-star panel of civic tech leaders — Lev Gonick (Chief Executive, OneCommunity); Brett Goldstein (Fellow in Urban Science, University of Chicago and Board Member of Code for America); Elin Katz (Consumer Council, State of Connecticut); and Oliver Wise (Director, Office of Performance and Accountability, City of New Orleans). The event coincided with the release of a Report on the Responsive Cities Initiative.
The Tow Center has made video of Susan’s talk and the ensuing panel discussion available:
During the session, and in conversations with participants afterwards, it was clear we are in the midst of a time of palpable energy at the local community and government levels around harnessing the power of technology to transform cities and the ways they engage with their citizens.