Articles by

Ilir Zherka

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    The Civic Data Challenge is a Knight Foundation-sponsored competition held by the National Conference on Citizenship. The contest brings together community leaders and data, design and tech experts to create apps, websites and data visualizations that can be used to increase civic participation. Below, Ilir Zherka, executive director of the National Conference on Citizenship, writes about the winners of the challenge.   The 2013 Civic Data Challenge’s successes demonstrate a strong appetite to strengthen civic health using creativity and data. But, just why is this so important? Communities with strong civic health go beyond interacting with the government: They work together to solve problems, they exchange knowledge and ideas, and they engage with local institutions. While communities can survive with less than optimal civic health, sooner or later they will begin to feel the effects in decreased government accountability and increased citizen disaffection. At the National Conference on Citizenship, we collect civic health data to better measure, understand and shape how our communities and our democracy are functioning. We launched the 2013 Civic Data Challenge to turn this raw data of civic health into tools that communities can use to increase their civic participation. Tech, data, design and nonprofit professionals collaborated with communities to create products that respond to real needs. The Challenge rolled out in three phases. Participants analyzed a community’s civic issue during the Ideation Phase, built out their program during the Creation Phase, and collaborated with local partners to test and refine that product during the Implementation Phase. Our five winners have proven the utility of their products and shown great long-term potential.
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    The following guest blog post is written by Ilir Zherka, executive director of the National Conference on Citizenship. Today, together with the support of the Knight Foundation, we’re launching the Civic Data Challenge—an exciting opportunity to use information in the service of advocacy. The Challenge will engage diverse groups of passionate individuals to build tools that strengthen civic life and have direct impact on public decision-making. The challenge builds upon the successes of our launch in 2012. Last year’s winning teams spanned the country and included undergraduate students and nonprofit leaders, financial analysts and graphic designers and coders. Their entries taught us new and valuable lessons about the role that civic health plays in creating stronger communities. This year, we want to go even deeper to make sure that participants create tools that are responsive to community needs. We’re expanding the challenge to include: