Year in Review: 2016 in Civic Tech

| MSNE Staff


New England, we love you. This year, we explored civic tech head on with our local communities, driving change one person at a time and expanding our team beyond belief. As we approach our tenth year in our Cambridge offices at the New England R&D Center (NERD), we’d like to thank everyone who has helped us make an impact over the past year.

A look back at an amazing year on the Microsoft New England Blog:


Milton IrvingVoices Of Change — Bringing Everyone Into the Conversation
Milton Irving, Executive Director, Timothy Smith Network

Diversity and inclusion are critical underpinnings to our evolving culture at Microsoft and powerful bridges to the marketplace. The Timothy Smith Network provides that opportunity — and not only through the deployment of technology, but through the deployment of the services and the programs to leverage technology within the community.


LourdesVoices of Change — Transforming Communities Through Innovation
Lourdes German

In the spirit of International Women’s Day, we were honored to celebrate women in our community who are carrying out the mission of civic engagement, leadership and empowering other women. One of those leaders in Lourdes German, the founder and director of the Civic Innovation Project, which began with a simple vision that endeavored to raise awareness of civic innovations that were transforming communities by presenting stories from leaders, citizens, academic and private sector stakeholders using creativity and civic technology to solve the most vexing problems facing communities.

Bringing Massachusetts History to the Digital Sphere

The Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) is a staple to our city’s relationship with its strong history. We partnered with MHS for its 225th Anniversary exhibit, “The Private Jefferson,” showcasing the largest collection of personal paper and drawing by Thomas Jefferson. MHS wanted to make this story accessible to everyone — and we were honored to use Microsoft technology to make that happen.


Opti_OnAzure_illustrationStormwater Made Sustainable – Opti Prepares Us for Tomorrow’s Storms

Opti products address stormwater management in a completely modern way. By combining lightweight IoT hardware with a platform natively built on Microsoft Azure, Opti is able to predictively, autonomously, and securely control stormwater facilities based on the forecasted rainfall.


Lawrence-Brown (2)Enabling Youth Employment: A Conversation with Lawrence Brown
Lawrence Brown, computer technician and web developer at Resilient Coders

There’s great importance in delivering employable skills (management, leadership, and coding, for example) to our local youth to drive the economy and uplift our communities. And we know that our youth know the struggle of employment best. We showcased stories of those who’ve landed in tech fields. Meet Lawrence Brown, a 26-year-old Boston resident who attended Newton schools through the Metco program and is now a computer technician and web developer at Resilient Coders.


Girls Who Code Visit Microsoft NERD Center for Mentoring Event
Charis Loveland, Senior Program Manager, Microsoft Azure Machine Learning

For the second year in a row, Microsoft hosted 20 girls last summer at the Microsoft Cambridge campus to teach coding in partnership with the Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program. Through the mentoring program, Girls Who Code aims to provide girls with the invaluable opportunity to interact with strong, powerful and exemplary female role models.

Using Power BI to Track Gentrification
Aaron Myran, Microsoft New England Civic Tech Fellow

Aaron Myran, a Microsoft Civic Technology fellow, is interested in how public data and APIs can be unlocked, visualized and shared to facilitate civic engagement and policy decisions. He created a dashboard using Microsoft’s Power BI that visualizes the change in price per square foot for the rental market in Boston over time to address gentrification — a difficult public policy challenge.

WP_20160715_13_01_59_Pro“Now, How Can You Make It Better?” — Girls Who Code Empowering #WomenInTech
Jasmine Hyppolite

To Jasmine Hyppolite, a senior in high school from Providence, Rhode Island, #GirlsCan means there is nothing girls can’t do. She told us about her sophomore year of high school, when the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, Reshma Saujani herself, came to her school and introduced her to the program.


City to City: Igniting Best Practices from Boston to Austin
Cathy Wissink

Microsoft’s Cathy Wissink flew to Austin, where she had the chance to join the Boston Chamber’s “City to City” trip. She recapped her experience, and took away, among other things, that public-private partnerships matter now more than ever.

Students at AMSA Charter School Delve Into Complex Cybersecurity Issues
Michael Impink, Senior Manager at Microsoft Corporation

The Advanced Math and Science Academy (AMSA) Charter School in Marlborough, Mass. exemplifies the value of learning computer science from a young age. Michael Impink, Senior Manager at Microsoft Corporation, had the opportunity to lead a discussion with juniors and seniors regarding current topics in cybersecurity. These high school students discussed topics that are complex even for most graduate students.


wfin_371__dsc9929Coding Outside the Classroom — Resilient Coders’ David Delmar on Making Change

Resilient Coders — a nonprofit based out of the CIC in Boston that teaches underserved, at-risk, and super smart young people to code — is a program that is actually making change. The program takes kids from diverse backgrounds, teaches them to code, and gives them opportunities to work in tech — opportunities that they may not have otherwise.

Thank you to all who joined us in sharing the important stories that shape our community. Let’s work together for an incredible 2017.

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