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The Civic Hacker Podcast

The Civic Hacker Podcast

By Lori McNeill, Founder | The Civic Hacker Network
Problems have solutions. We're here to learn about them from regular people creating change in their communities using data and technology. Each season of the Civic Hacker Podcast includes audio from the Civic Hacker Summit and news from the Civic Hacker Network.
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AI for Good

The Civic Hacker Podcast

Two Civic Hackers Walk Into a Zoom ...
In this special bonus episode, we are featuring a conversation between two phenomenal past Civic Hacker Summit speakers; they are Allen Hillery, data storyteller, instructor, and cofounder of Be Data Lit, an educational resource for data literacy advocates, and Samuel Sinyangwe, a data scientist and policy analyst who founded Mapping Police Violence and the Police Scorecard, and co-founded Campaign Zero, to advance data-driven solutions to end police violence in America. Links to info and resources: Be Data Lit: Mapping Police Violence: Police Scorecard: “Connecting People With Data Stories, Past and Present”, Allen Hillery @ the 2021 Civic Hacker Summit> “Data-Driven Solutions to End Police Violence” Samuel Sinyangwe @ the 2021 Civic Hacker Summit:  Community Impact Accelerator - Online Monthly Meetups -
September 17, 2022
Affordable Housing Access Gets a Digital Makeover!
Today’s episode features a discussion with Kathy Cheng who is using data and technology to improve access to affordable housing. Kathy is the senior product manager for Exygy and has experience in early stage high growth startups, as well as digital agency work in sectors ranging from e-commerce to education to digital health. Today she shares with us the platform Bloom Housing by Exygy. We talk about how the platform is designed to improve access to affordable housing across jurisdictions, and its potential to spark changes in housing policy. Links to info and resources: Learn more about Bloom: Community Impact Accelerator - Online Monthly Meetups - Venture for America - Original Civic Hacker Summit Session recording:
September 13, 2022
Hacking Data Equity with Tableau
This episode features Channing Nesbitt, who is the co-founder of the Tableau Foundation’s Racial Justice Data Initiative, and led the team driving the Racial Equity Data Hub.  Channing shares his experiences in these roles and what he has learned from their work to empower users of varying backgrounds to leverage data in combating systemic racism by advancing equity in education, economic opportunity, political empowerment, and justice reform.  Links to info and resources: VIDEO CLIP: FULL VIDEO FROM CIVIC HACKER SUMMIT:
August 22, 2022
Using Crowdsourced Data to Spread Good Karma
Today’s episode features the founder of Karmalize, the world's first and only online directory of socially responsible businesses, searchable by social cause, and completely crowdsourced from people who care about making a better future. After a 30+ year career in the consulting, technology, and software industries, today’s guest, Rich Yap, turned in a corporate career for a different mission: to help people spread good karma by supporting socially responsible businesses. Rich takes us behind the scenes of building a tech product with a social impact mission as the focus, and shares lessons from his experience along with practical advice we can all use in our projects. Links to info and resources: Get the Karmalize App Karmalize + Civic Hacker Network On-Demand Webinar Community Impact Accelerator Program Full Video from Summit
July 21, 2022
Q&A With the U.S. Census Bureau
The U.S. Census Bureau open data is a key ingredient in important civic tech projects and policy advocacy work. In this episode we get to hear directly from a Census Bureau expert, Lia Bolden, as she answers questions from the Civic Hacker Network members and demystifies the new data being released after the 2020 census.  Lia shares with us specific tools and features that make it easy to access the Census data so that we can utilize it in ways that create social impact within our communities. Links to info and resources: Data Gems: Quick Facts:
June 23, 2022
Identity, Inclusion, and Inspiration
In this episode, you will listen to Matt Scott who leads storytelling at Project Drawdown which is the world’s leading climate solutions resource project. Matt is also the creator of inclusive impact storytelling project Let's Care, and the film 20’s and Change: San Francisco. He shares with us his expertise and exclusive knowledge that he has learned throughout his career in the digital space. Links to info and resources: Link to Matt's Summit Page  Twitter: @mattscottgw.
May 28, 2022
Hacking Communication to Prevent Identity-Based Violence
Today we speak with Rachel Brown who is the Founder and Executive Director of Over Zero, an organization that merges research and practice to prevent identity-based violence and other forms of group-targeted harm. She shares with us how communication can be a weapon for identity based violence, and how Over Zero aims to counteract this harmful communication. Rachel also provides many strategies and resources that you can implement in your own life to combat hateful speech.  Links to info and resources:  Link to Rachel's Summit Page:  Visit the Over Zero Website:  RESOURCE - Building a Resiliency Network:  Documentary featuring Rachel’s work with Sisi ni Amani - Kenya:  Donate to support the Civic Hacker Podcast:
April 21, 2022
Turning Stories Into Data for Change
In today’s episode we get the opportunity to hear from Alexandra Pittman who is the founder and CEO of ImpactMapper and HERO Index. She shares with us how ImpactMapper facilitates change measurement for a variety of organizations by helping them to understand and effectively use both qualitative and quantitative data to support social causes in areas like gender equality, human rights and more. Link To Alexandra's Summit Page: Links to info and resources: Watch the video clip>>
April 05, 2022
Hacking DEI in Tech
In today's episode we hear from Hugo Seureau who is the CEO and co-founder of Essteem. We learn about their unique approach to hackathons that led to the invention of the “Equalithon”, as well as their mission; to connect people, start-ups, nonprofits and a variety of companies in the technology industry with the goal of improving business performance while simultaneously implementing specific strategies and tools that increase equality and inclusion within each workforce. Link to Hugo's Summit Page: Links to info and resources: Emergenze Hacks - Hack for Ukraine:
March 15, 2022
Art, Code, and Black Data Stories
In today's episode we speak with Anthony Starks, an independent developer and designer interested in data visualization, combining Art+Code and building open-sourced tools such SVGo (SVG generation), deck/decksh, and dchart. He gives us empowering information on the ways that we can use data as a tool for advocacy, and advice and examples for those of you that are interested in building your own data tools and visualizations. We talk about his involvement in the data visualization community’s online initiative, the Du Bois Challenge, including how he reproduced all of the hand drawn Du Bois data portraits with his modern digital tools. Anthony reminds us of the context of Du Bois’s original work, and the importance of its lessons for us today as we wield modern data to push for change. Links to info and resources: VIDEO CLIP:
February 24, 2022
Data Literacy, Black History, and You
Today’s conversation is with Allen Hillery who is the Co-Founder of Be Data Lit, a platform that promotes education for data literacy advocates, and a co-creator of the surprise data visualization sensation, the “DuBois Challenge”. He takes us behind the scenes of the challenge and leaves us with the clear message that data literacy is for everyone. Link to Allen's Summit Page: Links to info and resources: Get the book! W.E.B. Du Bois’s Data Portraits: Visualizing Black America Link to check out the DuBois Challenge: Donate to Support the Civic Hacker Network: Subscribe to our Newsletter:
February 16, 2022
Combating Human Trafficking with Powerful Data Tools
This episode is being released in January, which is Human Trafficking Awareness Month, so we are featuring a conversation from the original Civic Hacker Summit that focused on innovative tools designed to help law enforcement build cases against trafficking rings using data gleaned from the web. Civic Hacker Network Director, Lori McNeill, discusses the history, context and outcomes of a US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program called Memex with then program manager, Wade Shen. Learn about this important approach to using technology to bolster law enforcement's ability to stop criminals engaged in heinous crimes of exploitation, and how you can help continue developing the open source products.  LINKS TO INFO AND RESOURCES: Watch the demo [video] Memex Open Source projects: Stopping Human Traffickers with Memex [article] Civic Hacker Network is a non-profit organization fiscally hosted by Open Collective Foundation, a 501c3. Donate to support this podcast at: Check out the Community Impact Accelerator Program at
January 26, 2022
[BONUS EPISODE] Impact Blockers: 4 Mistakes Standing Between You & the Change You Want to See
We recently hosted a webinar titled, “Impact Blockers: 4 mistakes standing between you and the change you want to see”. This BONUS EPISODE features the audio from that webinar. If questions about the impact of your work make you feel like a deer stuck in headlights, you're not alone. So many people working to create change in their community aren't sure about whether or not they're getting the outcomes they want, at the scale that's needed. In this webinar, our director, Lori McNeill covered 4 mistakes that often lie at the root of shortcomings in a range of social impact initiatives, civic tech and tech-for-good products, non-profit programs, and even grassroots community projects. If you're ready to gain confidence in the impact and direction of your work, this episode is a must listen! LINKS TO INFO AND RESOURCES: Check out the Community Impact Accelerator Program at To view the Impact Blockers webinar video recording, go to
August 16, 2021
3, 2, 1... Impact!
Today's episode features a conversation with Rebecca Rumbul, Head of Research at mySociety, a U.K. based not-for-profit organization that helps people be active citizens using civic technology, research and data across 40 countries. mySociety’s research team seeks to discover what works — and what doesn’t — when it comes to civic technologies. In this conversation Rebecca shares some of her research observations and tips for how civic tech can be developed to make an in impact more in responsible and equitable ways. LINKS TO INFO AND RESOURCES: Learn more about mySociety's research at Check out the Community Impact Accelerator Program at
August 14, 2021
AI for Good
For Episode 05 of the Civic Hacker Podcast, "AI for Good", we are featuring a conversation with Friederike Schüür to talk about how we can use data and AI for good, AI capabilities and ethics considerations, and some simple concepts that can help you make a bigger impact in your civic and social good projects. At the time of this recording, Friederike was a data scientist with the applied machine learning research firm, Fast Forward Labs. She walks us through some of the prototypes they built, and discusses what these apps reveal about the underlying data and algorithms.    LINKS TO INFO AND RESOURCES: Watch the clip of the AI application prototypes and get the links to more resources at Recommended AI learning resource from our affiliate partner:
March 21, 2021
Hacking Food Insecurity
In Episode 04 of the Civic Hacker Podcast, "Hacking Food Insecurity", we sit down with Tim Yoon to talk about his winning National Day of Civic Hacking project, and the journey that followed to develop the idea into a working tool on the Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services website.  This conversation was part of the Civic Tech Group Showcase track of the Civic Hacker Summit. In it, Tim keeps it real, and provides some great insights about working with busy agencies, the importance of building trust as you engage in these types of collaborations, and resisting the urge to go overboard on the tech part of civic tech.  LINKS TO INFO AND RESOURCES: See the clip of the demo version of the team's project>> Learn more about building a civic hacking community by checking out the resources at Recommended GIS learning resource for web developers from our affiliate partner:
December 18, 2020
Mapping for Impact
This week we are joining in the international celebration of GIS technology by bringing you a very special GIS-focused talk from the Civic Hacker Summit Archives, "3 Questions You Can Answer With Maps". This session was presented by Esther Needham, Project Manager on the Data Analytics team at Azavea, a certified B Corp that applies geospatial analytics, software, and research for positive civic, social, and environmental impact. We have made the video of Azavea's presentation available to ALL Civic Hacker Network members (not just paid members) for a limited time: Go on over to our website and sign up for your free membership to be able to access this video and SEE the awesome examples that the folks from Azavea were talking about. #GISWeek Membership Promotion: Use promo code GISDAY2020 to get a paid membership to the Civic Hacker Network, with 1 year of access to the entire Civic Hacker Summit Archive for just $49 (the regular price is $100/year). Go to to learn more, and remember to enter the promo code GISDAY2020 at checkout to get this special rate of just $49 for an annual paid membership to the Civic Hacker network. Azavea: Azavea's Github:
November 19, 2020
No Data, No Change
Amy Bach founded Measures for Justice in 2011 as a follow-up to her acclaimed book Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court. The book won the 2010 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, and was succeeded by an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times titled Justice by the Numbers. In this episode of the Civic Hacker Podcast, hear more about this organization and their ambitious plans to collect and organize the criminal justice system data from all 3,000 U.S. counties, and make standardized metrics available to any and all users who may wish to access the information. LINKS: Article:    Measures for Justice: Build your civic hacking community: Preliminary report: Watch party notifications:
November 10, 2020
Hacking Homelessness
How much do you know about how to get people experiencing homelessness into housing and connected with appropriate resources? In this episode of The Civic Hacker Podcast, hear inspiring details about the data-driven solution to homelessness being advanced by the Built for Zero program from Community Solutions. Their Deputy Director of Data and Performance Management takes us through Built for Zero’s process and how they're using a data-driven approach to end homelessness. Links: Article:  Data Driven Solutions to Homelessness
October 22, 2020
August 31, 2020
August 31, 2020