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Bridging Distant Worlds: Innovation in the Civic Space

a digital white paper by Public Innovation


In an increasingly complex world, today’s challenges are interconnected. Many have argued that our civic institutions are not equipped to respond with the same velocity at which technology is advancing other sectors of the economy. While this may, in fact, be a fair criticism of our electoral, fiscal, and policy structures, a new mindset is emerging at government’s service delivery layer.

Civic innovation offers a new approach to solving community problems that is emergent, generative, resilient, participatory, human-centered, and driven by a process of validated learning where core assumptions are tested quickly and iteratively – and lead to better solutions that are both impactful and durable. And perhaps most surprisingly, new markets are being created that enable creative problem solvers to sustain their social impact through activities that don’t rely on traditional models of grant funding.

While the Sacramento region is making significant progress in this space, our civic innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem has yet to reach its full potential. The purpose of this white paper is to make the case for why now is the time for a Regional Civic Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Agenda.

The paper concludes with a set of recommendations for collective action among the region’s public, private, nonprofit organizations, and, of course, our fellow citizens. Appendix A articulates this agenda in the form of a resolution to be adopted by as many cities and counties the region as possible.

A recurring theme in this paper is that technology is fundamentally changing the way humans interact with organizations and each other. In order for regional leaders and residents to be honest with ourselves, we must consciously choose whether or not we are going to raise our expectations and co-create a new civic experience.

Because the future is now and the opportunities are infinite.