Online and digital technologies that enable citizens to hold governments to account, known as civic technologies, are proliferating at a steady rate around the world. The potential for these platforms to invigorate citizen engagement, increase transparency, and broaden public debate has been recognised not only by those in civil society, but by governments, by development agencies, and by philanthropists. There is, however, frustratingly little evidence to demonstrate the real-world impact of such platforms. Indeed, there is a paucity of robust research on any aspect of civic technology.
This report seeks to take a first step towards illuminating the world of civic technology. Whilst answering important, but complex questions concerning the impacts of civic technology is mySociety’s ultimate research goal, this research sought to begin at the beginning, asking the most basic questions about who actually uses it and why. Only by knowing who is using civic technology can we begin to understand what, where and how significant the impact of civic technology can possibly be.