According to IDC Research, aggregate worldwide investment in technology programs for cities reached $80 billion in 2018 and will reach $135 billion by 2021. The rise of information and communications technologies (ICT) has generated unprecedented opportunities for public engagement in urban policy and service delivery. Through a set of applications collectively known as civic technology (hereafter “civic tech”), increased public participation has the potential to deepen the democratization of urban governance and improve its responsiveness and accountability.
As the digital revolution enables initiatives like smart cities and e-governance, safeguarding methods of democratic influence is a core strategic mandate for city governments wishing to politically legitimize technology. Pursuant to this issue, civic tech is distinguishable from smart cities and other urban technology programs in its focus on citizen empowerment. For this reason, it has the potential to go beyond the typical promises of efficiency gains – as peddled by standard technologies – and transform how citizens engage with policymakers.