July 2015

Blockchain for Social Good with Microsoft and the MIT Media Lab

Livestream generously provided by Joly MacFie of the Internet Society New York. This is a liveblog so please let us know if there are any corrections.

We’re here at Lower Manhattan Headquarters to talk about potential applications of the blockchain for social good. John Paul Farmer of Microsoft New York introduces the Media Lab’s new Digital Currency Initiative, and specifically Chelsea Barabas and Brian Forde. Brian got interested in the blockchain while working together with John at the White House. Brian wrote the blockchain memo that the President read.

Brian notes that when we think about Bitcoin and the blockchain, people often think of financial institutions and currencies. Tonight, he seeks to broaden that conversation. The internet was built for email, but clearly there are many other applications.

Brian’s Four Levels of Bitcoin knowledge:

1. It’s crazy. Why would you want digital Monopoly money?
2. Wow, there are crazy interesting smart people talking about this technology.
3. Oh, I get it, this is interesting, I want to learn more.
4. Nirvana.

Tonight, we’ll seek to pique curiosity. We don’t have a killer app for the blockchain yet.

Bitcoin 101

In the Fall of 2008, Barack Obama was elected president as Wall Street crashed. And Satoshi Nakamoto published a little-noticed whitepaper about Bitcoin, a peer-to-peer electronic cash system.

Brian explains that the blockchain eliminates the uncertainty of sending digital assets by providing confidence that the resource hasn’t been duplicated. It’s a public ledger of debits and credits, not just for money, but for assets, as well.

The blockchain creates peer-to-peer trust without intermediaries. eBay, Airbnb, Uber act as third-party brokers of trust, built on reputation systems. With the blockchain, we don’t necessarily need these third parties involved in our transactions. The blockchain includes the full “eBay stack”: Money, identity, reputation, and a marketplace.

The Digital Currency Initiative is brand new, but it’s working on research, social impact, and inclusion. Two of the five senior developers behind the Bitcoin core code have joined MIT, gaining academic independence.

We lost $15 billion a year to physical theft, and $24 billion per year to identity theft. We’ve been working much longer to protect our physical assets than protecting our digital assets, and it shows.

Brian shows an image of a Ukraine protester holding a QR code on the news, giving people from around the world the ability to instantly transfer $15,000 to his account. The internet exponentially increased our ability to communicate, and Brian expects the blockchain to do the same for our number of transactions. Brian recently held a Bitcoin workshop in Iraq, and was impressed by innovative ideas thought up by people who don’t have the ready access to more developed nations’ financial products. He expects the most exciting innovations to come from places where people can think more creatively about financial tools.


Chelsea is head of social impact at the Digital Currency Initiative. Prior to this, Chelsea was a student at the Media Lab’s Center for Civic Media. She finds the blockchain compelling because of the broad set of use cases in which it can be useful.

The blockchain’s traditionally been considered primarily as a currency. But we can alsol consider it as a technology for storing files of any nature. These include a photo of Nelson Mandela, ASCII art, and Satoshi Nakamoto’s Bitcoin whitepaper itself.

The blockchain provides a distributed database maintained by thousands of computers around the world which can verify the public log of transactions. Its strength lies in its distributed, decentralized nature. No single authority can easily alter the record.

Recent years have displayed to us the importance of citizens owning tools of media production — consider the death of Walter Scott at the hands of the police. The blockchain could be used as a canonical media notary in court: it would verify that video files hadn’t been changed since they were recorded.

A more complicated social good application of the blockchain would be to use it to distribute welfare resources. The government’s distribution of welfare checks looks a lot like it did 100 years ago: people standing in line at a physical location. The Initiative is in conversations to consider how to better achieve the goals of welfare by using the blockchain: reduced administrative costs, stronger verification, and improved auditing. Of course, other options offer benefits, too. An SMS-based payment system like M-PESA could work.

The great minds at MIT have become very interested in the blockchain. The Digital Currency Initiative is drawing on this community, as well as outside partners and even governments who deliver services to the public.

The team sees two roles to play in developing social good applications of the blockchain:

1. Collaboration to develop holistic applications of blockchain technology
2. Provide a forum for critical conversation about the risks and complexities of integrating this technology into our current institutions and systems.


$800M has been invested in digital currency technologies

Peter Kirby compares the blockchain’s immutable ledgers to a big wall of bricks. It’s really hard to change the bricks at the bottom of the wall when there’s a mountain of bricks on top of them.

The Honduran government is looking into using Bitcoin for land titles. All of the land value in the nation was sitting on paper title records. The World Bank funded the digitization of the records into a database. Bureaucrats got into the system and started giving themselves beachfront property. The scandal took down the administration, and the new powerholders promised tamper-proof records. Enter Bitcoin.

The transparency of the process also opens up attorneys’ work and legal descriptions.

Peter is President of Factom, a data layer which lets you tie chains of chains of chains together.

Hernando De Soto refers to the land title records as “$9 Trillion in dead capital.”


Ann Kim at IDEO is a Public Sector Portfolio Lead in their Cambridge office. This summer, the company has organized the Bits & Blocks Lab, an incubator looking at the potential opened by blockchain technology. They’re bringing their famous human-centered lens to the blockchain, looking at where it might fit naturally into existing behaviors.

The Lab hosts 6 teams of 25 design entrepreneurs recruited from Boston and Cambridge universities. They spend a lot of time out in the community learning how land titles and other systems work.

Some of blockchain’s features that they’ve honed in on: peer to peer exchange, frictionless transactions, and digital scarcity.

One prototype was a donation tug of war, where your contribution tipped the scale in a debate. Another asked $0.25 to see a funny photo. Other ideas include frictionless donation widgets in news articles, and physical donate buttons on household appliances. We could donate to a physical object, like a shared bike, communally paying for its upkeep.

Potholes are a common pain point in Boston. The teams began to think about civic infrastructure, like bus shelters. Change is often the result of a single tireless advocate who gets the ball rolling. Cities rarely have enough data about citizens’ desires. How might the blockchain aid these patterns?

IDEO articulates opportunities as “How Might We” statements. How might we better connect public resources to public needs?

The Dandelion Prototype offered passerby the opportunity to weigh in on the design of a new playground.

CityCoin came up with the Cambridge Coin. Each citizen would be allocated a certain annual number of coins, conveying the ability to vote toward various projects and causes throughout the city.

Their goals are to enable frictionless exchange, encourage dynamic participation, and integrate mechanisms for accountability. You can follow their work at #BitsBlocks. Brian describes it as “SeeClickFix meets Participatory Budgeting”.


Ryan Shea of Onename is interested in how the blockchain handles identity. Hundreds of millions of people around the world lack identification papers for various reasons. And yet IDs are required for many of society’s most critical transactions.

Ryan refers to identity in the US as “authentication theater”. We use numbers provided by the government for the purposes of authentication, but they weren’t really designed for these purposes. The result is that we use personally identifiable information to identify ourselves, and lose $25 billion annually in the process.

With the blockchain and some cryptography, we could establish that a certain person made a certain statement at a certain time. This would give us the ability to create self-issued ID documents on mobile devices and printed cards. Governments would be able to validate the ID.

Here’s how Onename’s ID generation process goes: To generate a digital blockchain ID, you would download a desktop or mobile app to generate your numerical key, which becomes your pseudo-anonymous identity. Then you fill out a form and digitally sign it with your pseudo-anonymous identity and place it in the blockchain. You link your user name on the blockchain and link it to this identity, giving others the ability to verify your ID. And finally, you take a photo of yourself with the name of your ID.

Once this is all in place, your university or the Department of Motor Vehicles or Social Security Administration could sign on top of the existing self-issued ID. Onename facilitates this process for users and departments. Their goal now is to get more institutions validating these IDs and making them commonplace.


Q&A

Q: The public sector isn’t very efficient, but they employ a lot of people. Many of these solutions would eliminate many of these jobs.

Brian: There’s a great book called The Second Machine Age arguing that when you replace the jobs that can be replaced by technology, it often frees humans up to do more interesting things.

Matt Harrigan, Grand Central Tech: The applications might work, but our political system is broken and half our government doesn’t believe in climate change, so how would we expect them to adopt these highly functional systems?

Peter: Step 1 is build the tech, steps 2-10 are to change the political environment to encourage their adoption. In many of the applications we think of it as small, cheap experiments. We’re running it in one small city in Central America. With one small experiment, you can demonstrate its value and give legislators something to latch on to, when they see it’s been done better, faster, cheaper. It won’t be a US election on the blockchain, it will be a small municipal election, which will give leaders more time to grow comfortable with the technology. And that’s a good approach to social change in general.

Benjamin Dean: We can’t ignore the structural dynamics that are there. There’s potential to game the inputs that go into the blockchain.

A: We call the inputs problem the problem of “garbage in, garbage out.” We need technical as well as social safeguards.

Windows 10 is here!

Windows10

On July 29, Microsoft made Windows 10 available, across 190 countries, as a free upgrade. The launch of Windows 10 is being celebrated around the world with global fan celebrations and a new yearlong initiative to celebrate people and organizations making a difference around the world.

To learn more about Windows 10 and how you can upgrade, click here.

Microsoft New York One Year Anniversary Xbox One Giveaway! #MSNYSweepstakes

In honor of Microsoft New York’s one-year anniversary, we want to give back to the city! We just happen to have these 2 Xbox ONE’s sitting here, so we’re giving away one to YOU and one to the charity of your choice.

Rules: The tweet will go out at approximately 12:30pm on Thursday, July 30. The contest runs until 5pm Friday, July 31.

Here’s how to enter:

  • Follow @MicrosoftNY on Twitter
  • RT @MicrosoftNY’s giveaway tweet
  • Reply to the thread with a charity of your choice using #MSNYSweepstakes
    • Example:
      “I would like @My_Charity_Of_Choice to win the #MSNYSweepstakes.”

Here are some suggested nonprofits to choose from — if your favorite is not listed, feel free to nominate them:

We will randomly select a winner at 5pm Friday. Good luck and thank you for supporting Microsoft New York and these great causes!

Xbox Win One Give One Giveaway Sweepstakes – Official Rules

RECAP: New York Times Cities For Tomorrow Conference (NYTCFT)

This past week, we joined New York Times for the Cities For Tomorrow Conference (NYTCFT), a two-day celebration of how cities are adapting to and growing with technology. We were pleased to see Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President of Technology and Civic Engagement Dan’l Lewin honored as a guest speaker on one of NYTCFT’s panels recognizing Chicago as a lab for smart cities. Alongside Caralynn Nowinski, Chief Executive Officer of UI Labs and Steve Koch, Deputy Mayor of Chicago, the group explored some of Chicago’s greatest feats as a technology hub.

Some of the top tweets from the event:

 

 

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Announces Jennifer Tour Chayes as the 2015 John von Neumann Lecturer

ChayesPhase transitions in discrete mathematics and computer science, structural and dynamical properties of self-engineered networks, graph algorithms, algorithmic game theory, and computational biology. Jennifer Chayes’ research career has spanned many areas. In recognition for her leadership in the research community, as well as her contributions to mathematical physics and the theory of computing, today, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) announced Jennifer as the 2015 John von Neumann Lecturer.  The Lecture is the highest honor awarded by SIAM, and was established in 1959 in honor of the Hungarian-American mathematician after whom the prize is named.

Jennifer is co-founder, Managing Director and Distinguished Scientist at Microsoft Research New England and Microsoft Research New York City. Jennifer co-founded Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2008, and Microsoft Research New York City in 2012. Before joining Microsoft in 1997, she was for many years a professor of mathematics at University of California, Los Angeles.

Additional details about the award and Jennifer’s research background can be found in SIAM’s press release.

What’s Next After Microsoft — Civic Tech Fellow Alumnus Ken Chan


Civic Tech Fellow Alumnus Ken ChanFirst off, congrats on graduating! What were your main duties as a Microsoft fellow?  
My primary duties consisted of contributing to the development of the Civic Graph, and attending a variety of events (hackathons and meetups) to collaborate with members of the civic technology community and build impactful solutions to civic problems. Every week, I would attend a meetup for the local Code for America brigade in New York City, BetaNYC, to learn, understand and help solve the issues that community members were facing.
What has been your favorite project with the Technology and Civic Engagement Team?
The Civic Graph, a force-directed graph visualization that displays the entities (people and organizations) and connections within the civic technology ecosystem, was developed to provide a comprehensive overview of this ecosystem. I thoroughly enjoyed utilizing my technical skills to build this tool with the help of my other team members. Ultimately, I hope members of the civic technology ecosystem continually add to and update the information that fuels this visualization to enhance its richness and quality for existing and new community members.
The visualization allows users to see which entities are giving funds, making investments, collaborating with others, and using external data sources. Numerous filtering options enable users to view different sub-networks within the civic technology ecosystem, and understand the primary influencers based on the number of employees or twitter followers. Also, a geographical map view provides an additional location-based dimension for further understanding the connections from a local and global scope.
When the Civic Graph was presented at the 2015 Personal Democracy Forum, I felt proud that our team was able to give the civic technology ecosystem such a beautiful and interactive tool to visualize how entities work together to promote and inspire civic engagement.
Where is civic tech taking you next?
I hope to continue collaborating with fellow BetaNYC members on a variety of civic projects, and use my skills to demonstrate how technology can improve existing infrastructures and empower citizens.
What advice do you have for future fellows?
People within the civic technology ecosystem come from varying backgrounds, ranging from policy-making to engineering. My advice to future fellows is to embrace this diversity in order to effectively collaborate and communicate with others when building out applications that engage and educate people.

Celebrating a Year of Technology and Civic Innovation in New York

Microsoft NY Year One Team

What a year! In the Summer of 2014, our Technology and Civic Innovation team in New York City began to take shape. We began by identifying clear ways for Microsoft to engage through civic participation, partnerships, and new product development. We’ve been delving into how the community uses data to address its challenges, spreading 21st century tech skills and job opportunities, and leveraging innovative technologies to create a more responsive and resilient city.

We would like to share the story of our first year to connect with others doing similar work and inspire many more to deploy innovative technologies to address our shared challenges. Of the many things we’ve been able to accomplish over the past year, here are ten of my personal favorites:

  1. Helped Bring NYC Together as a Founding Sponsor of Civic Hall

Recap: Civic Hall Grand Opening

When we were in the early days of our new civic tech work, Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry shared their vision with us for a 21st century community center, a physical hub for the civic tech community located in the heart of New York City. We saw the potential and signed on as Civic Hall’s first founding sponsor…and we’re so glad we did. Since opening its doors earlier this year, Civic Hall has become a magnet for those looking to use technology to improve the lives of the many. In fact, there is a good chance you’ll find our team working at Civic Hall on any given day.

  1. Announced Tech Jobs Academy with Mayor de Blasio

In the 21st century, tech skills are a necessity. So we decided to partner with Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Tech Talent Pipeline (headed by the incredible Kristen Titus) and the City University of New York (CUNY) to pilot the Tech Jobs Academy, a new approach to demand-driven accelerated learning to deliver skills in months instead of years. This program will deliver long-lasting careers in technology to those who otherwise might never have the opportunity.

  1. Created a Civic Tech Fellows Program

NYC 2015 Civic Tech Fellows

Upon joining Microsoft, the very first program I put in place was the Civic Tech Fellowship, so that Microsoft could tap into incredible emerging talent, orient them toward the hard problems the community faces, and establish even stronger roots in the New York civic tech community. Having been integral to a number of the projects on this list, the Civic Tech Fellows have lived up to our high hopes. In fact, they’ve been so impressive that we’ve doubled the size of the program for its second year.

  1. Drove Creative Open Data Usage through Big Apps NYC

In its fifth year, Big Apps NYC was already established as a pioneering program in the open data movement. We were excited to get involved as Big Apps refocused on accessibility and usability of data by any person in any borough, which coincided with the emergence of Heat Seek NYC as the “best in show” app.

Big Apps Annoucement

  1. Gifted Azure, BizSpark, and Devices to Civic Startups

All startups – and civic-oriented startups, in particular – are deserving of our support as they undertake the herculean task of building new businesses and non-profits. We have supported several ventures with free software and cloud services through the Microsoft BizSpark program, like Heat Seek NYC and the winners of CodeAcross New Jersey. We’ve also lent top-of-the-line devices to groups like Silicon Harlem and Black Girls Code so their students can start coding and designing with powerful equipment.

  1. Convened Town Halls with BetaNYC and Leaders from the Mayor’s Tech Team

In collaboration with BetaNYC, we have hosted leaders from City Hall’s tech and data teams to discuss the state of government tech, open data, participatory civic tech, and more. In December, first-ever NYC Chief Technology Officer Minerva Tantoco joined us at Microsoft Research in the Flatiron District to lay out her vision for what could be accomplished. In February, NYC Chief Analytics Officer Amen Ra Mashariki visited our Times Square headquarters to discuss the direction of open data under his leadership of the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics. These conversations allowed hundreds of citizens and civic hackers to engage directly with leading technologists in their city.

  1. Hosted Book Talks and Film Festivals for the Community

Using our convening power, we have hosted thought leaders such as Susan Crawford, Steven Goldsmith, Dan Ward, and Anthony Townsend and thought provokers such as Maker: The Movie. These events have attracted both core members of the civic tech community and those just hearing about it for the first time, serving to extend the reach of these important conversations.

  1. Boosted Cross-Sector Collaboration as Founding Technology Partner of LMHQ

LMHQ_Logo_Vimeo

A “third space” that is neither home nor office recently opened in Lower Manhattan, a neighborhood long known for Wall Street and City Hall, but now home to a growing tech community, creative design firms, fashion, media, and more. We have been pleased to be the technology partner of choice for LMHQ, providing hardware, software, and services to help people connect across sectors and enjoy new experiences made possible through cutting-edge tech.

  1. Fueled Entrepreneurship and Innovation as Technology Partner of Grand Central Tech

Grand Central Tech (GCT) In 2014, Grand Central Tech (GCT) opened its doors as a new kind of accelerator, one that attracted cream of the crop startups, connected them with programming and growth opportunities as well as talented interns from underrepresented communities, and charged zero rent while taking zero equity. As the technology partner of GCT, we are contributing a suite of tools and services for the community, including mentorships, workshops, and BizSpark Plus, which provides $60,000 in free Azure cloud services during a startup’s first year.

  1. Built the Civic Graph

Civic Graph

As we did our research into the current state of the civic tech in New York and across the country, it became clear that the field didn’t have an up-to-date, accessible, structured knowledge base. It was hard to discern what was already happening. So we decided to build an open source, crowdsourced, open data tool showing who’s who and what’s what in civic tech. Employing the best of lean startup, agile development, and continuous iteration, the Civic Graph has been getting increasing attention from civic tech luminaries for its foundational role in supporting the growing the field of civic tech. You can check out get a great view of the current status landscape at CivicGraph.io – and don’t forget to put yourself on the map!

This progress has been made possible and accelerated by the fantastic partners, dedicated colleagues, and jaw-dropping talent that we have found here in New York City. If you are interested in collaborating on these exciting initiatives, please drop me a note at: john.farmer@microsoft.com

This has been an incredible first year for the Technology & Civic Innovation team. We couldn’t be more optimistic for what’s to come in this next year and beyond!

What’s Next After Microsoft — Civic Tech Fellow Alumna Fatima Khalid

Civic Tech Fellow Alumni Fatima Khalid

Congratulations on graduating! Can you tell us your official degree and where you received it?

Thank you! 😀 it’s been an exciting past few months.

I am officially a graduate from NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering in Computer Science with a minor in Game Engineering. I also obtained a minor from the NYU College of Arts and Sciences in Broadcast Journalism.

What were your main duties as a Microsoft fellow?

As a team, we all worked endlessly to produce what is now Civic Graph (civicgraph.io) from its beginnings of whiteboard designs and simple d3 plots. As a fellow, I also attended hackathons and hack nights, particularly those of our Code for America brigade, BetaNYC (shout out to Noel, Terrance, and Volkan for a fantastic learning experience). I also participated in civic tech events and conferences in NYC and once, even in Boston. I met a lot of amazing people and got a chance to give insight into their open data projects. I volunteered at civic tech events and even got a chance to be a student-mentor at a Microsoft hackathon. I always used my Twitter account to hashtag and drive engagement for events. Sometimes, people would come up to me and say, “Oh hey, you’re the Twitter girl.” That’s always a great conversation.

What has been your favorite project with the Technology and Civic Engagement Team?

Without a doubt, Civic Graph. It started out as an atlas of ideas, something abstract that our director John Paul Farmer wanted to create. I remember sitting with my teammates, Ken and Jenny, in the early stages of our fellowship thinking it wouldn’t be possible to put all that information into one interactive graph, but we did! The project grew larger and more complicated with every iteration and more people began to contribute data. It was both challenging and rewarding, especially as a team, to see it grow from John’s visions of the idea to the actual platform being used and worked on at hackathons. (NY team, I will miss you the most <3)

Civic Graph, in a sense, taught me how to bring an idea, however challenging, to life. And watching it grow and develop at the heart of civic tech in NYC is just an amazing feeling.

Where is civic tech taking you next?

I’m leaving NYC for Boston, where I was inspired by the engagement and participation of the government at HubHacks 2014. In mid-July, I’ll be joining the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) for the City of Boston as a software developer. With DoIT, I’m hoping to be a part of creating a more responsive city that engages with it’s citizens and usually technology to improve the quality of life. I’m particularly excited to work on the “technology stack” in the city – devices, sensors and connectivity projects. The whole position is just one thrilling smart city initiative and I’m excited to be a part of it!

What advice do you have for future fellows?

It can be overwhelming when you first enter the Civic Tech realm. You’ll find yourself struggling to define your job sector to your friends and classmates. I like to copy my boss, Matt Stempeck when he says it’s “tech for good.”

In the beginning, I felt that things moved too quickly, conferences, hack nights, and hackathons were happening all the time. There’s open data, smart cities, and STEM – something for everyone to contribute in civic tech. You’ll meet fantastic people from all kinds of sectors – government folks, policy enthusiasts, data miners, and technologists.

I’d say be prepared to learn and contribute to ideas and feel incredibly inspired every time you attend a conference or lightning talk. There’s just so much talent and so many incredible projects going on. You’ll come to a point where you’ll be able to define ‘civic tech’ with your own experiences, whether with people, apps, tools, or technologies — and then, there will be no going back!

Good luck future fellows.

Let’s collaborate on civic tech one day! 🙂

Photos from the Civic X Accelerator 2015 Demo Night with Points of Light Foundation

Last week, we had the honor of joining Points of Light‘s Civic Accelerator (#CivicX) for their 2015 Demo Night, celebrating innovative opportunities for women’s social change. After a night of inspiration and networking, we’ve been able to gather photos from the event, a majority courtesy of the Points of Light Civic Accelerator.

Civic Tech Events This July

Civic Tech Events This July

Happy July and a very happy Independence Day, everybody! Summer is officially here and it’s time to kick it off with a slate of exciting civic tech events taking place around NYC. Here’s a sampling of some of our favorites coming up this month:

July 1: Civic Hacknight at Civic Hall — Part of Beta NYC’s series of weekly civic hacking events. Come get inspired, start a new project, get feedback on an old one, or learn about some of the new tools and resources emerging in the space. Be sure to bring those laptops!

July 7: July 2015 NY Tech Meetup and Afterparty — A monthly event featuring live demos from companies based here in New York. Hear about some of the cutting edge work being developed here in New York City and meet the people who make these projects a reality.

July 8: Civic Hacknight at Civic Hall — If you couldn’t make the one on July 1st you’ll have another opportunity to come hang with us at Civic Hall, the newest collaboration space for civic innovators in NYC.

July 8: 33entrepreneurs Startup Contest at LMHQ — Watch demos, booze, and schmooze with your fellow entrepreneurs in downtown Manhattan. Last minute pitches are still being taken into consideration so act now if you’d still like a chance to get on stage!

July 11: Coding for Beginners at LMHQ — An intensive all-day workshop designed to give newcomers an introduction to thinking and behaving like a programmer. You’ll receive personalized attention from an instructor and work in an intimate small-group setting. Scholarships are available based on financial need.

July 13: Red, White and Blue! Freedom Mapping w/ Mapzen — Come see how individuals and organizations are using geospatial data to tell innovative and educational stories about the world around them.

July 15: The Growing Sharing Economy’s Impact on Cities — How can cities collaborate with private companies to utilize proprietary data to support this growth? Join Zipcar, KitSplit, and the National League of Cities for a discussion about how the growing sharing economy is impacting cities.

July 15: Civic Hacknight in Brooklyn with NYU GovLab — Take this opportunity to attend a civic hacknight and get to know the folks behind the amazing GovLab.

July 16: NYC BigApps 2015 Launch Party — Gather your team and get ready to build something incredible as part of this year’s BigApps competition! Come by Civic Hall to meet potential collaborators, partners, mentors, and data providers as you build solutions to some of the biggest problems facing our city. This year’s Challenge categories are Affordable Housing, Zero Waste, Civic Engagement, and Connected Cities.

July 22: #CivicWomen Happy Hour — An evening highlighting the work of women in civic technology. It will also be a great opportunity to find new collaborators and partners in the space. Regardless of gender, you’re sure to enjoy yourself at this important event.

July 28: E Pluribus Unum: Building a Cloud for the Federal Government — 18F, a development shop in the federal government that builds services for government agencies, will talking about some of their experiences trying to bring innovation to the US Federal Government.

July 29: Civic Hacknight in Queens with C4Q — Another civic hacknight with Beta NYC, but this one is in collaboration with Coalition for Queens (C4Q), an organization that works to nurture and promote the tech ecosystem in Queens, providing enhanced economic development and opportunity for the world’s most diverse community.

July 30-31st: Code for All Summit — Code for America is hosting its first global summit, bringing together civic innovators from around the world. The two day conference will feature speeches from program fellows, networking opportunities, product presentations, and exciting predictions for the future.

July 31: Data Scientist Networking Gala — In the age of Big Data, it’s important to know good data scientists. Come enjoy this gathering of New York’s best and brightest working with data today.