Announcing the Launch of Challenge:LA

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After many months since our events last fall where over 600 Angelenos gathered to create design challenges for the next part of Civic Innovation Lab, we are officially launching Challenge:LA. In partnership with the Office of Mayor Eric Garcetti and the Mayor’s summer-long #techLA initiative, we are proud to announce our civic-focused innovation challenge designed to tap into the ingenuity of citizens to solve some of the most pressing social and civic challenges in Los Angeles.

Our Summer 2015 challenges focus on transportation, water conservation, and community. Starting today through September 20th, citizens are able to submit projects they think will help move the needle on these pressing public issues. Challenge:LA finalists will be considered in a final judging round in October when grand-prize winners will be announced during the #techLA conference, culminating Los Angeles’ Innovation Week. The winners will be eligible to participate in the next phase of the Lab, Accelerate:LA, a civic accelerator program run by Civic Innovation Lab and designed to encourage the sustainability of each solution and create real impact. More details about Accelerate:LA will be released in October 2015 along with the winning project announcements.

Since we launched Civic Innovation Lab last September, civic tech continues to be an emerging force for good. But what is Civic Tech? The best definitions, in our opinion, emphasize outcomes - going beyond tech for tech’s sake.

Tom Steinberg, the founder of mySocietydefines civic technology by outcomes: that which "spurs citizen engagement, improves communities, and makes governments more effective." MySociety, a decade-old nonprofit based in the UK, is a world leader in creating digital tools and platforms that seek to "meaningfully lower the barriers to taking the first civic or democratic steps in a citizen's life, at scale." - Alex Howard, Techrepublic.com

We at CIL believe all citizens, not only developers and programmers, need to be engaged in how technology betters our public lives and makes government more effective. We recognize that experts in policy, urban planning, social justice, and citizens at large may be the best suited to develop solutions that lead to measurable impact in the public sphere. To this end, our programs aim to engage anyone with a project or idea and connect them to citizens with tech skills in order to partner and prototype solutions.

We also know that to get real traction and develop civic tech that works, it needs to happen through a facilitated process that involves engagement and testing over time. While hackathons can jumpstart the process that lead to lasting solutions, we aim to create civic infrastructure that brings expert citizens, the tech community, and government together in a process to yield measurable civic and social impact.

We look forward to hearing from you and seeing your brilliant submissions come through via Challenge:LA. Let’s build a more engaged, accessible city together.

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