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

| MSNY Staff

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.

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