Civic Tech

Civic tech is a term that has been used to mean different things, and there is a fair amount of debate over what the term means exactly. One of my favorite definitions of the term comes from a longtime civic hacking organizer, Christopher Whitaker. In his words, civic tech means:

[t]echnology projects involving intentional collaboration between technologists, bureaucrats, entrepreneurs and nonprofit employees to engage the public or solve civic problems.


An RFP is a Request for Proposal - an solicitation by a government agency for private sector entities to provide a proposal describing the work and cost to achieve some end or provide a service to or on behalf of the agency. When a government issues an RFP, it does so in accordance with a formal policy that has been adopted to govern the process and to make it legal.

Open Data

According to the Open Data Handbook, open data is:

Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone - subject only, at most, to the requirement to attribute and sharealike.

Open Source

According to the Open Source Initiative, open source software is: that can be freely accessed, used, changed, and shared (in modified or unmodified form) by anyone. Open source software is made by many people, and distributed under licenses that comply with the Open Source Definition.

Application Programming Interface

An Application programming Interface (API) is a way of formalizing the interactions between computer systems by specifying how one system may interact with another (for example, by requesting data from a separate system). There are many different definitions for APIs. but I have often described an API as being like a contract that governs a transaction. An API for a computer system specifies the types of things that another computer system can get from it, or store in it. It describes in detail how requests for information must be made and what the response will look like. In the event that the request was n ot formatted properly, the API will specify why the request was not correct and how it should be modified to be correct.

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