Technology can be hugely helpful in strengthening communities. It can also be a huge distraction. The key is to make sure that new tools serve people first. That’s a self-reinforcing process. The more people there are paying attention and making their voices heard in the discussion about how technology can strengthen offline networks, economies, and places, the more likely it will be that new tools will be designed to make the dialog even more inclusive. In order to change the way that cities are run, the #CivicTech movement should lean more toward civics, and less toward tech.
Every citizen has a seat at the table, and technology’s job right now is to help people understand how they can have an impact on their communities. In Latorre’s words: “The cities that are more open, that are early adopters, are the ones where the citizens are more in charge than the technocrats. The next time you find yourself in a conversation about technology, stop—and start talking about outcomes and goals. Get out of the tiny little box of technology.”