Cluster characteristics public decision making

The Knight Foundation released an interesting report the other week that takes a look at the budding civic tech sphere in the United States:

What does the civic tech landscape look like?

Civic leaders, organizations, funders and citizens increasingly recognize the power of technology to connect people, improve cities and make government more effective.

A new report from Knight Foundation offers a first-of-its-kind analysis of the emerging civic tech landscape, including investments being made in this growing field and the organizations behind them.

From the about text on Slideshare:

Investments by private capital funders and foundations in technology that spurs citizen engagement, improves cities and makes governments more effective is growing significantly, with more than $430 million going to the field between January 2011 and May 2013, according to a major report released today by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The first report of its kind, “The Emergence of Civic Tech: Investments in a Growing Field,” provides an in-depth analysis of the current state of private capital and foundation investments in civic technology. It aims to help organizations and investors better understand civic tech funding, so that they can strengthen their work and help shape the field. The analysis applies a new approach to research and advances the use of data in the social sector; it showcases an interactive data visualization map that allows users to explore investments across multiple areas of civic tech. Find out more at

As the authors acknowledge, the list probably isn’t quite complete yet, and a number of startups included here have already seized to exist independently. Furthermore, the inclusion of peer-to-peer sharing companies such as Airbnb as “civic” technology makes for a pretty wide net (too wide, arguably). Some fine-tuning may be in order for future editions of this report.

Be that as it may, the one thing worth noting from an e-participation perspective is the fact that “public decision making” shows up as an emerging innovation cluster. Together with “Voting” and “Resident feedback”, three of the six clusters that make up the report’s open government category are potentially very closely related to public participation. And while the amounts of funding received between these three clusters is still fairly minimal (less that $20M total, compared to $233M that have been poured into peer-to-peer local sharing), it’s a start.

The report’s raw data is available for download. Head over to the Knight Foundation’s website to explore the details.