Civic Engagement

Toward Inclusive Urban Technology

Our cities are changing at an incredible pace. The technology being deployed on our sidewalks and streetlights has the potential to improve mobility, sustainability, connectivity, and city services. Public value and public inclusion in this change, however, are not inevitable. Depending on how these technologies are deployed, they have the potential to increase inequities and distrust as much as they can create responsive government services.

How an Investigation of Fake FCC Comments Snared a Prominent DC Media Firm

Millions of records that the Federal Communications Commission’s top lawyer once fought to hold back from state law enforcement officials now serve as key evidence in a year-long probe into cases of Americans being impersonated during the agency’s latest net neutrality proceeding.

Inclusion and Civic Engagement in Public Technology Building and Planning

Whether they are Wi-Fi kiosks, urban sensors, fiber networks, or built-from-scratch “smart” neighborhoods, new urban technology deployments are under the microscope. Despite the potential of these projects to drive innovation and economic growth, they are often met with mixed reception and a myriad of justifiable questions. Take the Quayside project in Toronto led by Sidewalk Labs.

Public Comments to the Federal Communications Commission About Net Neutrality Contain Many Inaccuracies and Duplicates

Network neutrality regulations underpin the digital lives of many Americans, yet it is challenging to survey the public on such an inherently complex and technical subject. For this reason, Pew Research Center set out to analyze the opinions of those who had taken the time to submit their thoughts to the Federal Communications Commission.  Among the most notable findings:

The Summer of Our Discontent

The summer of our discontent steams more hotly by the day: a deadly and surging pandemic taking more than 130,000 lives across the nation; an economy bleeding millions of jobs and livelihoods and denying basic subsistence to many; mass protests assembling in streets nationwide to demonstrate against systemic racism and police brutality; and dysfunctional government at all levels and in every branch from White House to Congress to courthouses to statehouses and often beyond. Can we handle it? Can America conquer its ills and overcome? Can our democracy itself deal with its discontents? 

G&T Podcast: Tip of the Iceberg: How Law Enforcement Surveils Protestors & Communities of Color

On Episode 5 of G&T: Tech on the Rocks, Gigi Sohn talks to Color of Change Campaign Advisor Brandi Collins-Dexter about the history of surveillance of civil rights protestors and communities of color, how sophisticated technologies have made spying ubiquitous and what protestors can do to protect themselves. They also discuss Color of Change's efforts to get Facebook to moderate hate speech and how to ensure that tech companies incorporate civil rights principles in every aspect of their businesses.

They Used Smartphone Cameras to Record Police Brutality—and Change History

In the last decade, the smartphone has become a tool for witnessing police violence toward African Americans. From the 2009 killing of Oscar Grant to the 2020 killing of George Floyd, we reviewed the footage and talked to the people who captured it, to see how the accounts of racial injustice became clearer as the phones evolved. “This is our only tool we have right now. It is the most effective way to get us justice,” said Feidin Santana, who used his smartphone in 2015 to film a police officer killing Walter Scott in South Carolina. “The smartphone is a weapon that tells the story.

Political Groups Track Protesters’ Cellphone Data

The protests continuing around the country are historic displays of social action. For political operatives, the mass gatherings are also a unique opportunity to harvest data on potential voters. Advocacy and voter-registration groups are gathering a trove of data from protests by tracking the cellphones of participants and sending them messages about registering to vote or taking other actions. The tactics, which one user called “deeply spooky yet extremely helpful,” are the latest example of ways political groups are using cellphone data to target voters.

Ending Our Click-Bait Culture: Why Progressives Must Break the Power of Facebook and Google

This memo briefly explains how Facebook and Google have come to dominate modern communications networks, what that means for American democracy, and how to fix it.

How Google Docs became the social media of the resistance

Google Docs has risen as one of the key tools for organizing George Floyd-related protests.