It’s Time for a Civic Tech Revolution: MassChallenge’s Jibran Malek on $50K Civic Tech Prize for 2014 Startup Accelerator 

| Jibran Malek

Jibran Malek 2Jibran Malek is MassChallenge’s Social Media Coordinator. Jibran runs MassChallenge’s social media and content campaigns to ensure the entire world knows about what’s going on in the startup accelerator and to amplify the amazing stories MassChallenge startups experience on a daily basis.

As we move further and further into the digital era, it has become increasingly important for cities to go digital as well. New challenges are presenting themselves every day—challenges that traditional tools can’t solve. Over the past decade, individuals have become more connected with increasingly diverse apps and platforms available on their mobile devices, tablets, and computers. Citizens are living lives of greater convenience, greater safety, and greater health thanks to the transition of an app-based service economy. This same service based economy that benefits individuals can easily be scaled into the city. Enter civic tech.

Civic tech are tools that entrepreneurs can create and that cities can use to bring positive change to social and urban problems. Problems like voter registration, crime data, parking, and disaster relief all have the potential to be alleviated through the power of civic technology.  Huge cities—hubs for innovation—need to embrace civic technology so that they may be “future-proofed” and ready to take on a connected future.

It’s time for a civic tech revolution and we need to inspire more entrepreneurs to contribute—the paths are wide open to innovate. At MassChallenge, we’re focused on catalyzing a startup renaissance all over the world. We strongly believe that entrepreneurs and their startups have the power to pull the world out of its current economic malaise. One way to do this is through civic technology: by encouraging ideas that can be implemented in cities to improve the lives of all—rich and poor.

We’re excited to work with Microsoft New England and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics to encourage and help startups solve the most difficult urban challenges with our $50K Civic Tech Prize in our startup accelerator. Many startups that have gone through MassChallenge solve key urban challenges such as HelmetHub, which provides helmets for bikesharing programs throughout Boston and lowers the barrier to entry for bikesharing users—and gets more people on bikes. Other startups, like, crowdsource resources to make citizens more prepared for disaster by creating software that connects local government, organizations and residents.

A vibrant innovation economy is directly supported by a robust culture of civic tech entrepreneurship. As civic tech entrepreneurs give citizens more options to engage with their community, more avenues of entrepreneurship will open up as the barriers to ideas are decreased. Entrepreneurs are driven with the desire to create a positive impact in their environment, and nothing has more immediate impact than civic tech ventures. This civic tech revolution will inspire hundreds if not thousands of entrepreneurs to take up the mantle of entrepreneurship and create a more sustainable economy and future for succeeding generations. By collaborating with Microsoft, the City of Boston, and entrepreneurs across the innovation ecosystem, we’re dedicated to bringing about the civic tech revolution.

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