A programmer builds a website that lets parents and their children choose between public schools. A user experience expert redesigns a benefits portal so immigrants and counselors can look at case files together. A data scientist works to create a database to encourage the federal government to start tracking police use of force.
In 2015, NetGain focused on strengthening this emerging field of public interest technology.
Technologists around the world are needed to help governments, social service providers and advocacy groups use technology to find new ways of working, and confront and address the challenges and inequities that inevitably arise from technological change.
These contributions are essential for public interest organizations to be effective in the digital age.
But public interest organizations are facing a talent pipeline crisis: there are not enough technologists working or interested in joining public interest fields to meet growing demand.
“A Pivotal Moment: Developing a New Generation of Technologists for the Public Interest” is a new report that demonstrates how to improve the quality and number of technologists working in civil society organizations and government at every level.
It identifies opportunities to build the field of public interest technology, and ways that philanthropy and other stakeholders can invest to best support such efforts. The new resource also details best practices that will help everyone design smarter interventions across government and civil society to develop the talent and capacity of public interest technologists.
A product of the inaugural year of the NetGain partnership, A Pivotal Moment is a first step in ensuring that the technological innovations of today and the future are built, used, and governed in ways that create opportunity for all.
The Internet of Things (IoT) describes an emerging global network connecting everything around us: from what we wear, to the homes we live in, and even medical devices embedded in our bodies.
IoT encompasses everyday objects as well as complex data systems in cities and industries. This so-called “third wave” of the Internet is often defined by orders of magnitude: “billions of devices connected, trillions in generated revenue, zettabytes of multi-directional data.”
The advent of IoT will amplify many of society’s digital issues. Computing will be ubiquitous and physically connected to us, resulting in the Internet becoming even more personal, sensitive and pervasive.
At this critical moment, the widespread and unique consequences of IoT demand that we look not at what is possible, but at what is responsible. As often as the Internet is used to foster learning and promote justice, it’s also used to exert control and exacerbate inequality.
In 2016, NetGain is focused on understanding the public interest issues that arise with IoT and what philanthropy can do about it. We identified five interrelated opportunities and challenges of IoT for society, which are explored in this paper:
Savings and efficiency
Improving public services
Enabling citizens with data
Democratizing product development
Growing the movement for “open”
Erosion of privacy
Surveillance on a global scale
Inequity and reinforced social divides
Threats to safety and security
Centralization and monopolies
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In the digital age, grantmakers should be able to assess and, when appropriate, help address the digital security threats faced by grantees and grant applicants. Digital Security & Grantcraft Guide was written to help grantmakers both assess and address digital security concerns.