Anyone Can be a #CivicTech Hero

A woman holding the Earth with a couple things orbiting them

Who am I?

A stuffed tiger
Sr Advisor, Office of the CIO,
Department of Homeland Security

Civic Tech
in 3 Easy Steps

  1. Identify a problem
  2. Find a dataset or API
  3. Build an MVP

A Real World Example

A woman holds a large print of mountains with a large board behind her with wireframes of a website
The logo for, "Your Voice in Federal Decision Making"

The Old

A screenshot of the old version of the website

The New

A screenshot of the latest version of the website

1. Identify a problem

A woman kicking a component of a website while scratching her head
A computer with data files falling into it from a conveyor belt

2. Find a dataset or API

Open Source Data at DHS

  • Data Inventory Program
  • Open Sourcing Data on
  • Open Data Standards and Data Stewardship

Data is great, but what about APIs?

A woman searches for the right data set

A phone and a tablet both connect to another block representing the data
Three people at three laptops discussing their work

3. Build an MVP

Early Pain Points

A woman considers some papers up on a board while holding an alternate paper option in her hand

API key rate limits

Poor data architecture and API design

Lack of (good) documentation

My Solution

Step 1: Have user's register for an API key

  1. User requests data
  2. Check the cache
  3. Get data from API
  4. Cache data (30 days)

What about the UI?

A group of people climb around a web site while it is being built

For our UI framework, we want something...

  • open source
  • with a good base of functionality
  • accessible and well tested
  • maintained by a trusted organization
  • with good development velocity

The U.S. Web Design System logo U.S. Web Design System, maintained by GSA

A man shows off a web page
A screenshot of the home page of once logged in
A screenshot of some documents within a docket on
A screenshot of the comments on a document on
A woman walks, ready to answer any question

How can you become a #CivicTech hero?

Solve a problem.

Find a non-profit that needs help,
or just talk to your friends!

You don't have to solve all of the world's problems.

Start small!

Contribute to government OSS.

The U.S. Web Design System logo U.S. Web Design System

The logo

Raise your voice.

Visit and look for opportunities to voice your expert opinion on technical policies!

Join up!

Anyone Can be a #CivicTech Hero


FedGovRegs code:

Read the letter from Democracy Forward to GSA about