Events

Recap — Conversation in Civic Innovation: Financial Transparency and Citizen Engagement

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How can we get citizens engaged in government budgets? How can we make government fiscal information available to the public? How do we build tools that promote financial transparency and encourage citizen input?

This week, we discussed all of this and more at our quarterly #CivicTechBos conversation at the Microsoft New England R&D (NERD) Center. Alongside panelists from across the board in civic engagement, financial transparency, business, and government, we tackled these issues, brainstormed on civic solutions, and made promises to improve transparency and government progress.

Panelists included:

  • James Milan, producer of Your Arlington Dollar on ACMi (Arlington Community Media Inc.)
  • Mike Herbert, Ashland Town Manager
  • Adam Langley, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Fiscally Standardized Cities database
  • Christopher Dwelley, Co-Lead & Performance Manager, Citywide Analytics Team at City of Boston
  • Curt Savoie, Principal Data Scientist at Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Here are some of the top tweets from the night:

Bringing Boston’s Public Spaces to a Whole New Level

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This year, we announced our partnership with the City of Boston’s Second Public Space Invitational (PSI), a contest that encourages collaborative ideas that transform Boston’s public spaces. This open call to creatives in the Boston area commands attention to spaces where Boston residents live, walk, and work, placing intuition and aesthetic first and foremost in new designs that can improve unused spaces.

The PSI branches into three categories:

  • Analog Challenge: seeking traditional, but scalable and innovative approaches to improve the streetscape;
  • Digital Challenge: seeking projects that experiment with technology, sensors and a generally connected world;
  • Bonus Challenge: a partnership with the MBTA and Massachusetts College of Art and Design’s Matthew Hincman to help a winning team make bus shelters, specifically those at Mattapan Station, more inviting, beautiful, and comfortable.

Together with the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Boston Art Commission, we were honored to sponsor this year’s PSI Digital Challenge.

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We’re pleased to announce the winners of this year’s Public Space Invitational, seven innovative teams that are producing unique projects across the city of Boston and beyond to keep residents engaged in public spaces.

The winners are:

Analog

Night Garden
Location: Boston Day and Evening Academy, 20 Kearsarge Rd., Roxbury
Proposed by: Ethan Vogt, Mihai Dinulescu, Shawn Flaherty, DiDi Delgado

Night Garden is a light installation designed to create a space for evening food and performance events in Boston Day and Evening Academy’s community garden.

Egleston #StreetMurals #MuralesEnLaCalle
Location: Egleston Square, Jamaica Plain
Proposed by: Luis Cotto, Dorothy Fennell, Sydney Hardin

Egleston Square Main Streets seeks to implement a community-designed street mural at the intersection of Boylston Street and Egleston Street in Jamaica Plain’s Egleston Square neighborhood. This would become one of the City’s first street murals.

Franklin Street (Allston) Neighborway
Location: Franklin Street, Allston
Proposed by: Mark Chase, Viola Augustin, Tom Bertulis

Using on-street murals, pavement markings and high-quality planters, the applicants intend for a community-led slow street intervention on Franklin St. in Allston to prioritize pedestrian and bicyclist safety.

Digital

Public Radio
Location: TBD
Proposed by: New American Public Art

New American Public Art’s proposal includes installing a functional, larger-than-life radio in a City park or public space.

The Public Stage
Location: TBD
Proposed by: Liat Racin, Matan Mayer, Mariko Davidson, Christina Usenza, Alon Dagan

The proposal will use synchronized light and sound to link to an orchestra’s soundscape through a livestream audio transmission to Boston’s urbanscape. A light display will illuminate the space with attractive colors synchronized in real time to the volume and timbre of the performance.

Bonus

Radiant Forest
Location: Mattapan Station
Proposed by: Chris Freda, Ryan Collier, Jhanea Williams, Anthony Lawson

Radiant Forest is intended to transform the Mattapan bus station platform into a dynamic and delightful work of art that celebrates the shelter utility with an array of translucent-colored screens just beneath the glass panels that form the station’s covering.

Real People, Real Stories: Mattapan
Location: Mattapan Station and/or Bus Stations in Mattapan
Proposed by: Professor and Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges and Jennifer Waddell

The proposal includes a series of printed photographs and poems based on interviews with current residents of Mattapan. The portraits and poetic texts would be displayed on digital monitors within or on the exterior of the clear outdoor waiting shelters, or via free-standing outdoor digital media enclosures.

Read the City of Boston’s Press Release on the 2016 Public Space Invitational, including full project descriptions and Honorable Mentions, live on the City of Boston Website.

Microsoft New England Picks: Not-To-Miss Events This July

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Fireworks, trips to the beach, and civic tech in the city. We’re honoring this July with some of the best civic tech events you can find in Boston. Our top picks for events this month:

July 6

Public Space Invitational Awards Ceremony

This year, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, the Boston Art Commission, and the City’s Streets cabinet launched the second Public Space Invitational, an open call for creative minds to reimagine civic spaces and public infrastructure in Boston.
Join Mayor Martin J. Walsh as he opens up the third and fourth floors of City Hall to showcase a gallery of this year’s proposals and announces the winners of the Invitational.

July 9

Grand Opening of the Boston Public Library Central Library Renovation

The Central Library Renovation will open to the public on Saturday, July 9, following a ribbon cutting with Mayor Martin J. Walsh at 10:30 a.m. The grand reopening will celebrate the completion of the second and final phase of renovations to the Johnson building constructed in 1972. This second phase of work includes updates to the interior design and exterior landscaping, new digital elements, beautiful new spaces for studying and reading, refreshed collections, and new public computers. The Central Library Renovation puts the Boston Public Library on the cutting edge of library services – reshaping and redefining the patron experience at a 21st century urban public library.

July 12

Digital Politics: New technology in motion

This month on Modern Workplace, watch Digital Politics: New technology in motion, airing July 12th at 8:00 AM PDT / 3:00 PM GMT. Get a first-hand look at some of the new tools and innovations being put to the test in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

  • Stan Freck shares some of the tech innovations being used in political campaigns, including how new apps are informing an electoral process that is over 100 years old.
  • Patrick Stewart discusses how data visualization is playing a crucial role in the 2016 election cycle and takes a look at some of the emerging technologies.

July 19

Boston Bayesians Inaugural Meetup

Boston Bayesians is a meetup group that brings together data scientists, statisticians, engineers, entrepreneurs and others interested in the practical applications of Bayesian statistics. Join us for friendly academic briefings, stories from real-world projects, and open discussion of Bayesian inference, tools, techniques and case studies.

We follow a conventional format of 1 or 2 presentations from volunteers in the group and/or invited experts, and general conversation and socializing afterwards. Think of us as your Bayesian self-help group in the Boston Area.

July 19

Roxbury Innovation Center Café Night

The monthly Café Nights @ RIC are energetic and dynamic events where innovators and entrepreneurs can find one another and collaborate to bring their dreams to reality.
These regular gatherings provide a space for conversations and scheduled programs to inspire a wide range of attendees from different backgrounds and industries to connect, share ideas, and grow their ventures. The Café is open to all members of the innovation community—stop by to try it out.

The July Café will highlight the convergence of Education and Innovation.

July 19

MassTLC Leadership Awards Summer Reception

Join us for this special cocktail and networking reception where Council Members, Sponsors, Trustees and invited guests will have a chance to meet the nominees and watch the announcement of the 2016 Mass Technology Leadership Awards finalists!

July 20

Conversation in Civic Innovation: Financial Transparency and Citizen Engagement

What do municipal governments need to do to go from providing financials tools that build trust to providing tools that helps citizens engage in a meaningful and practical way with issues that concern them but have financial implications that constrain the options?  What would a set of tools that covered the whole financial waterfront – budgets, actuals, future projections, benchmarking, participatory budgeting – look like?

We’re looking to answer these questions — and more — at our July #CivicTechBos event. Join us for our next Conversation in Civic Innovation, set around financial transparency and citizen engagement, on Wednesday, July 20.

July 20

Export Regulatory Compliance Update

This conference will provide the latest information on export regulatory trends, with a focus on current compliance issues, including: export regulatory policy developments; special concerns involving product and technology controls; rapidly evolving sanctions policy; and best practices for compliance. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to hear the latest on export compliance issues and trends from some of the area’s leading export compliance practitioners and experts.

July 29-31

Design Museum Boston Urban Innovation Festival

Free & Open to the Public: Help improve your city! Give your feedback to design professionals, vote on your favorite urban solution, enjoy food trucks, kids activities, and community interviews. Make your voice heard and view design in action!

7/20 Conversation in Civic Innovation: Financial Transparency and Citizen Engagement

What do municipal governments need to do to go from providing financials tools that build trust to providing tools that helps citizens engage in a meaningful and practical way with issues that concern them but have financial implications that constrain the options?  What would a set of tools that covered the whole financial waterfront – budgets, actuals, future projections, benchmarking, participatory budgeting – look like?

We’re looking to answer these questions — and more — at our July #CivicTechBos event. Join us for our next Conversation in Civic Innovation, set around financial transparency and citizen engagement, on Wednesday, July 20.

Many municipalities are feeling the pressure to be more transparent about finances.  They are looking for tools to make dense financial information accessible to citizens.   Local governments see these tools as a way to build trust with citizens by showing that they use tax dollars efficiently and effectively.

Residents often engage with their local government around financial issues only when an issue comes up that feels like a crisis to them.  Suddenly, decisions they care about deeply are being made and the arguments for and against the choices involve understanding budgets and the budget process.  Often all the information they need is available but hard to find and hard to digest.

Panelists will include:

  • James Milan, producer of Your Arlington Dollar on ACMi (Arlington Community Media Inc.)
  • Mike Herbert, Ashland Town Manager
  • Adam Langley, Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, Fiscally Standardized Cities database
  • Christopher Dwelley, Co-Lead & Performance Manager, Citywide Analytics Team at City of Boston
  • Curt Savoie, Principal Data Scientist at Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Follow along with the conversation using #CivicTechBos. Register now at this link.

Microsoft GLEAM Takes On Boston Pride 2016

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM) ERG proudly celebrates diversity and how far we’ve come in the fight for equality. However, our work doesn’t begin or end in June. GLEAM aligns to Microsoft’s diversity and inclusion initiatives all year long to transform our culture, empower our employees, and expand our talent pipeline.

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Microsoft loves Boston — and there’s no better way for us to show that love than in the annual Boston Pride Parade. Held annually on the Saturday of Boston Pride Week, the parade/march is an opportunity for Bostonians of all walks of life to celebrate diversity and equality for all.

IMG_2396This year, on June 11, our Boston chapter of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Employees at Microsoft (GLEAM) headed to Boylston Street with 20 team members to take the nearly 3-mile walk in support of the Boston LGBTQ+ community. With members of our Microsoft Research, Technology and Civic Engagement, and Microsoft Store teams, we walked through Boston Proper with our #HelloPride banner, Microsoft swag (beach balls, whistles, frisbees and more!), and pride to support a strong, diverse community. Plus, our very own Dana (or should we say Data?) Zircher joined us in full Star Trek attire, celebrating Pride with us as Lieutenant Commander Data, our favorite android!

Every year, GLEAM has a Pride presence in various locations around the globe celebrating workplace diversity. We at GLEAM are honored to be invited to the 46th Annual Boston Pride Parade. We have been thankful to join the march year after year and can’t wait for our next parade! But the commitment to diversity doesn’t end there. With GLEAM, we strive to create a supportive employee environment at Microsoft, encouraging other companies to follow suit.

Microsoft Boston Pride 2016

For more pictures of GLEAM at the 2016 Boston Pride Parade, head to our Facebook Page.

Learn more about Microsoft’s actions toward workplace diversity with Microsoft GLEAM here.

#Recap — The 2016 Boston Civic Media Consortium

How can we design media and technology to make a difference?

Last Friday, the Boston Civic Media Consortium held their 2nd annual conference—this year, focused on Technology, Design and Social Impact—to examine that question. Held at NERD and sponsored by Microsoft’s Technology & Civic Engagement team, the conference brought together 200 Boston-based attendees from academia, community organizations, government and other stakeholders.

The energy was high as attendees participated in a diverse agenda, including four different tracks examining the role of civic media: civic art, inclusion and engagement, media literacy, and systems and advocacy. Much of the day was hands-on, with workshops in areas as diverse as accessibility tools, the Boston Data Portal and civics in the classroom. Lightning talks across the civic media space provided opportunities for the audience to hear in a bite-size fashion from diverse stakeholders working in media, city and state government, universities and advocacy roles. And because it wouldn’t be a conference without a panel or two, the day included those as well, on designing for inclusivity and service learning centers.

The end of the day celebrated the release of the newly-published bookCivic Media: Technology, Design, Practice”, with presentations from a number of the authors and essayists, including Eric Gordon, Paul Mihailidis, Ethan Zuckerman, Sarah Williams and Catherine D’Ignazio.

Microsoft New England is honored to play a role in convening, sharing and celebrating the depth and the interconnectedness of the Boston civic space, and look forward to next year’s event!

Sign up for the quarterly newsletter to learn about network-wide highlights and announcements!

Sign up for the listserv (currently around 1 email per week from community members) to post your events, proposals, internships and similar announcements.

Visit the Boston Civic Media Hackpad for live notes from the consortium here.

Microsoft New England Hosts Humanitarian Toolbox Codeathon

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On June 18th 2016, Microsoft New England will be hosting a codeathon for Humanitarian Toolbox. The Humanitarian Toolbox is a charity supporting disaster relief organizations with open source software and services. They are a group of developers, designers, testers, and industry professionals who want to contribute their unique skills in disaster relief aid. Whether it is through creating apps that map the spread of disease or maintaining software that helps to optimize the delivery of relief supplies, Humanitarian Toolbox has a goal of creating software and programs for relief organizations to have ready in times of need.

At the codeathon in June the Boston developer community will come together to work on the Crisis Checkin application. Crisis Checkin is the “first responder’s phone book” and was developed to make it easier for coordinators and leaders at disaster sites to manage and deploy people to more effectively provide relief to those affected. Crisis Checkin is being developed with several scenarios in mind, but one of our primary use cases was defined and tested as part of Operation Dragon Fire, which focuses on enabling data sharing during disasters and medical emergencies.

In May, the CDC and San Mateo County Health System conducted “Silver Dragon X”, a full scale exercise to increase public health and safety readiness to respond to a health-related emergency.  The exercise tested fire departments and community volunteer response teams to conduct door-to-door inspections and deliver key information in the community within a designated period of time.  As part of the exercise, Crisis Checkin was tested at two field locations.

With 76 contributors and 839 commits, this is a real project that is being actively developed and helps solve real world problems. Learn more about the history of the project from the Humanitarian Toolbox President Bill Wagner in an interview on the project.

If you are interest in helping out and can’t attend the codeathon on June 18th, you can always head over to the GitHub Repository, find a starter issue and start contributing. Not a developer? You can also donate contribute by donating at http://www.htbox.org/donate.

Sign up for the codeathon at the event page and learn more about the project at http://www.htbox.org/.

Free Summer Camps at Your Local Microsoft Store

As schools throughout the New England area begin their summer breaks, so begins the worry of summer boredom and infamous brain drain affecting kids this summer. But just because it is summer doesn’t mean the learning has to take a break (or kids have to give up their summer fun) — Microsoft Stores are here to help with free summer programming offered all season long.

It’s no surprise that STEM education – science, technology, engineering and math – is growing increasingly popular in interest and is necessary to be integrated throughout a child’s education to be most effective. With YouthSpark Summer Camps offered at Microsoft Stores located in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, kids this summer will have the opportunity to learn how to code while having fun by building their own video games, and how to develop, package and pitch their own business ideas through new camps taught by Microsoft’s in-store technology experts:

  • Kodu Makerspace – Kids age 8 to 11 can create rich and exciting games with Kodu Game Lab in this beginner-level camp. Kids learn coding fundamentals and how to build games in a fun, hands-on environment that fosters creativity, curiosity, and collaboration. 
  • Learn to Code Flatverse – Recommended for kids 12 and older, students can build a Flatverse game using TouchDevelop in this intermediate-level camp. Kids learn coding fundamentals, then get hands-on instruction on how to read and write basic code themselves.
  • Start Your Own Business – Offers entrepreneurial kids the knowledge, tools and support to make their business idea a reality. Kids will learn key concepts from testing their product or idea to protecting it, and receive training on how to create their own business pitch. All graduates will leave with a basic business plan and polished pitch, and the opportunity to present their idea to local entrepreneurs. This camp is for students 13 and older.

Registration for these classes just opened and they fill up fast. Get more details on each camp and register at microsoftstore.com/summercamps or microsoftstore.com/locations.

Join Us at the 2016 Personal Democracy Forum

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It’s time for civic tech, democracy, and collaboration. Next week, we’re embarking to NYC for the 2016 Personal Democracy Forum at NYU Skirball. Hosted by Personal Democracy Media, the annual conference brings together bright minds in the field of technology, politics, community, journalism, and academics for workshops, panels, talks, and more. Over two days, these talks explore the growing intersection between tech and societal building, showing how tech helps bring the future forward.

This year, we’re excited to have plenty of Microsoft team members on board to contribute to the conversation. Here are some guest speakers directly from Microsoft:

    • Annmarie Levins, General Manager of Technology & Civic Engagement, Microsoft:
      • Community Partnership Models for Civic Tech (moderator)
    • Kate Crawford, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research:
      • Know Your Terrorist Credit Score
    • Matt Stempeck, Director of Civic Technology, Microsoft New York:
      • Introducing the Civic Tech Field Guide
      • Civic features: When Platforms Do Public Good (moderator)
    • Betsy Aoki, Senior Program Manager, Bing Elections:
      • Civic features: When Platforms Do Public Good

We’ll be tweeting along on @MicrosoftNY, @MicrosoftSV, @MSNewEngland, and @MSFTChicago using #PDF16, but we encourage you to join us! Register now for last-chance tickets here.

Microsoft New England Picks: Not-To-Miss Events This June

MSNE-June-EventsIt’s finally June! We’re getting ready for summer with these events you don’t want to miss this month:

June 2

Youth CITIES First Annual Retrospective

Join Youth CITIES to both help us celebrate our last 7 years and help forge our way forward. Meet and mingle with the new wave of young entrepreneurial thought-leaders.  Get a glimpse of what will be in store for the future, the one they will be building in ways we aren’t even aware of yet.

Youth CITIES is a nonprofit organization preparing the next generation to become entrepreneurial leaders in their area of passion, permeating all areas whether startups, corporations, philanthropy, or government.  We are changing the way young people look and think about problems, limitations, and obstacles…associating them as just design constraints within endless opportunities for change.

Meet our alumni students and learn how an entrepreneurial mindset has opened new possibilities and transformed their way of thinking, and find out what big plans they have for the future.

With Special Guests:

  • Toni Oloko, Youth CITIES alum
  • Rayza Carrasco, Youth CITIES alum
  • Jeff Fagnan, Founder and General Partner, Accomplice
  • Tito Jackson, Boston City Councillor

Hosted by: Youth CITIES Board of Directors

  • Vicky Wu Davis, Founder
  • Dan Ross, Chair
  • Aimee Sprung
  • Alex Finkelstein
  • Andy Miller
  • Chris Wolfel
  • David Birnbach
  • Dougan Sherwood
  • Kathy Huber
  • Leland Cheung
  • Steve Willis
  • Tito Jackson
  • Tom O’Donnell
  • Toni Oloko
  • Vivjan Myrto

June 3
DigiGirlz and DigiCamp Day Hartford

Microsoft is proud to offer technology programs that target youth. This one-day event, held at multiple Microsoft locations worldwide, is designed to provide high schoolers with a better understanding of what a career in technology is all about.
During the event, students interact with Microsoft employees and managers to gain exposure to careers in business and technology and to get an inside look at what it’s like to work at Microsoft. This exciting event provides girls with career planning assistance, information about technology and business roles, thought-provoking exercises, and interesting Microsoft product demonstrations. By participating in the Microsoft DigiGirlz and Digicamp Day, youth can find out about the variety of opportunities available in the high-tech industry and can explore future career paths.

June 4, 5

National Day of Civic Hacking

Join the Code for America Brigades and Secondmuse this year’s National Day of Civic Hacking on June 4th, 2016 in collaboration with a number of federal government agencies.

National Day of Civic Hacking is a nationwide day of action where developers, government employees, designers, journalists, data scientists, non-profit employees, UX designers, and residents who care about their communities come together to host civic tech events leveraging their skills to help their community.

June 10

Boston Civic Media presents: Technology, Design and Social Impact

Boston Civic Media invites you to the 2nd annual conference on Design, Technology, and Social Impact featuring our Keynote Speaker Boston City Councillor Ayanna Pressley. Ayanna was first elected to the Boston City Council on November 3, 2009, becoming the first woman of color ever elected to the Council. She has a relentless determination to advance a political agenda focused on women and girls, building healthy communities, and breaking cycles of poverty, violence, and trauma. We are pleased to have her set the stage for conference participants, including- civic media designers, researchers, technologists, and community members.

Last year, Boston Civic Media was launched after a convening on Metrics and Methods where we discussed the barriers, opportunities, and foundational goals of civic media research. This year we’re back with a full day of learning, celebrating, and community-building! We are thrilled to invite you to:

  • Meet community leaders, techies, city officials, journalists, designers, academics, students, and more who are passionate about using media and technology for the common good
  • Listen to lightning talks on topics ranging from civic technology case studies to best practices for community collaboration
  • Participate in workshops on topics such as facilitation, design-research, and media strategies for social change

The schedule of the day includes 4 tracks consisting of Civic Art, Media Literacy, Systems and Advocacy, and Engagement and Inclusion.

June 11

BPS Robotics Olympics

The BPS Robotics Olympics is an annual robotics competition hosted by Boston Public Schools for BPS schools and students. Each year approximately 200 students from all grade levels (K-12), their parents, and teachers attend this event which features robotics challenges for all ages.

June 14 & 16

The Collaborative & The Classy Awards

Have you ever wondered, with all the amazing conferences that exist for nonprofits, why there isn’t one that puts the do-ers, the innovators, the YOU’s of the world, at the forefront? Well, we have too!

The Collaborative is designed with a single purpose—to bring the social innovators hustling for world change together to share their stories in an exciting atmosphere of learning, discovery, and collaboration. Come, join us at the Collaborative, the premier showcase for leaders of innovation and the do-ers that make their visions possible.

June 15

Juneteenth

Celebrate creativity and community at the MFA’s fourth annual Juneteenth event—the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States. See works by local visual, fashion, and performance artists; join a tour or talk to learn about works acquired through the MFA’s Heritage Fund for a Diverse Collection; and catch a screening from this year’s Roxbury International Film Festival—the largest New England film festival dedicated to celebrating films by, for, and about people of color.

June 16

Boston TechJam

Massachusetts has the world’s greatest concentration of entrepreneurs, emerging and leading tech companies, top-tier academic institutions and students, world-class venture capitalists, incubators, and an eco-system of supporting service providers. There is no better place on earth to launch and scale innovative ideas that tackle the toughest challenges. We’re about real and meaningful innovations that change the world.

June 21

Roxbury Innovation Center Café Night

The monthly Café Nights @ RIC are energetic and dynamic events where innovators and entrepreneurs can find one another and collaborate to bring their dreams to reality.

These regular gatherings provide a space for conversations and scheduled programs to inspire a wide range of attendees from different backgrounds and industries to connect, share ideas, and grow their ventures. The Café is open to all members of the innovation community—stop by to try it out.

The June Café will highlight Food Entrepreneurs.