Recap: Public Sector Leaders Forum on Technology & Citizen Engagement

Photo/Reba Saldanha Civic Innovations public sector leaders forum at Microsoft New England in Cambridge, MA August 22, 2016.

Last week, we joined the Civic Innovation Project for a Public Sector Leaders Forum focused on Technology and Citizen Engagement at Microsoft New England R&D Center. With guest speakers Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Katie Stebbins, Zinelle October, Pratt N. Wiley, Howard Lim, Aaron Myran, Lourdes German, and Cathy Wissink, we spent the night discussing ways technology is helping us think differently about civic engagement.

Thank you to all who participated and took the time to present new ideas. See below for a recap of the night, told in tweets:

Congratulations to the Girls Who Code Class of 2016!


“We’re in the midst of redefining the way we live, and tech is a big driver of that. You need to be a part of that.”

That’s what Terrell Cox, Partner GPM for Intune Device Experiences and General Manager for Microsoft New England Research and Development Center, told 40 bright young girls last week. Together with Twitter Boston, we were honored to celebrate yet another graduating class of Girls Who Code’s Summer Immersion Program. Every year at Microsoft New England, we join tech companies around the world in hosting girls aged 15-17 for two months, sponsored by Microsoft Philanthropies. Over the course of the program, Girls Who Code students learn multiple coding languages, are exposed to professionals in the field, and encouraged to #MakeWhatsNext.

This summer, we were happy to offer our students many field trips, such as days to Museum of Fine Arts #TechStyle Exhibit with Private Presentation by Curator, Museum of Science Exhibits & Planetarium Show, Microsoft Envisioning Center, and a Miss Representation movie screening with Microsoft panel discussion.

Last night was a celebration of what all of these events over the past seven weeks brought to the table. Each guest speaker — including student keynotes Marlika Marceau (Microsoft) and Shreya Chowdhary (Twitter) — explained why the opportunities each girl accessed this summer are steps to changing the world, and showed why programs like Girls Who Code are so important to encourage women in tech.

Microsoft keynote speaker Terrell Cox explained that the most effective solutions come from diverse, equal teams, expressing her hopes that the girls want more than “just a taste” of coding. She left us all with parting advice: “Learn more. Seek out new challenges. Be that engineer. Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

And Twitter Boston’s guest speaker, Rich Paret, Senior Director, Software Engineering, continued Cox’s call to action. After calling for a group retrospective, asking the girls if they had fun, made things, collaborated, solved a problem, and overcame a challenge, he instructed the girls to “Make stuff. Tell people about it. Share your experiences. Repeat forever.”

The students then took the stage themselves, proving exactly why Paret and Cox are so confident that these girls will change the world. Twelve different groups presented their summer projects, which consisted of websites and apps geared toward a variety of social problems, from campus sexual assault to gender stereotypes to water conservation and even preventing “spoilers” in pop culture. It’s clear that these girls know what needs are important, and their drive to solve these problems reminds us why STEM education is a priority.

After their pitches, we celebrated our Girls Who Code with certificates of achievement, wrapping up the night with one last surprise as Microsoft program manager Anissa Battaglino and Twitter program manager Tali Sason announced to all a donation of the Surface devices they have been using these past weeks to each student and each of the three teachers to help to continue their coding work.  

A big thank you to all who helped make this Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program possible, including our mentors, guest speakers, and MTC employees. We can’t wait to celebrate again next summer!

Upcoming Event: How Technology is Transforming Citizen Engagement

The evolution of technology has radically disrupted citizen engagement – elevating and expanding the way government officials can innovate to engage citizens at critical junctures of the electoral process and engage citizen voices in day-to-day governance. Operating from the belief that an informed and engaged citizen is critically important to a well-functioning democracy, this event will convene public, private, and non-profit sector leaders to discuss what’s working, examine challenges, and surface emerging innovations that stand to shape the landscape of citizen engagement in the future.

How Technology is Transforming Citizen Engagement
Event Date: August 22, 2016 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Program: Keynote Address, Leaders Roundtable & Networking Reception
Location: Microsoft New England Research & Development Center, 1 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, MA



This event is a joint effort by The Civic Innovation Project and The Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center, New England. The Civic Innovation Project is a national thought leadership platform focused on emerging government innovation, founded by Lourdes German, and recognized with a 2015 State of Boston Innovation Award. To learn more, follow Twitter @civinnovation and visit:

The Microsoft Innovation and Policy Center aims for Microsoft to be “of” the community, not just exist within it. Through the Innovation and Policy Center, we are extending beyond the tech community to: Connect stakeholders from tech to the broader business, academic and government community; Catalyze important technology and public policy discussions; and contribute more directly with the health and vitality of greater New England.  

Designing Innovation — A Recap of #DMUrbanInno



How can we make our civic spaces more innovative? This weekend, Design Museum Boston explored just that at the 2016 Urban Innovation Festival (UIF). The festival, which celebrated local innovative minds, brought forth a competition in which teams designed and hacked new ways to make empty civic spaces — like the I-93 overpass in Boston’s South End — accessible, fun, and interesting.

Winners included:

First Place: Fidelity Labs
Runner Up: Essential
People’s Choice: Wentworth
Most Innovative: Shepley Bulfinch

Congratulations to all finalists and participants!

A recap of the weekend, told in tweet form:

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


As August settles in, we’re embracing the end of the summer with civic tech and engagement events to keep you going throughout the month. Here are our top picks:

August 1

Drinks On Tap – Demos, Drinks and Discussions about Mobile Development

Drinks On Tap is a monthly social meet up for the Boston Area mobile developer community.  Come meet for a drink and catch up on new mobile developments during our next event at our office on Milk Street in Boston from 5:30 PM – 8:00 PM!

August 2

Boston TechBreakfast: ServiceWhale, Admetsys, DivvyCloud, Reflen Inc

Interact with your peers in a monthly morning breakfast meetup. At this monthly breakfast get-together techies, developers, designers, and entrepreneurs share learn from their peers through show and tell / show-case style presentations.

August 2

Introduction to Data Analytics

Regardless of your job function and industry, it is becoming increasingly crucial to be able to make better decisions based on data. Data analytics allows you to understand, draw insights from, and leverage your data more effectively. This short class is an introductory, conceptual overview of what analytics entails.

August 4

Wellness & Tech Innovation

Calling all yoga teachers, students, and tech fans!  Grab your mat and get ready for innovations, yoga and tech all at the same time!

Plug and TYME are eager and happy to invite you to Wellness & Tech Innovation at Plug Cambridge, the newest co-working space in East Cambridge.

August 10

TUGG’s Tech Night at the Museum

Join TUGG and Boston’s startup community for the first ever Tech Night at the Museum as we take over the Isabella Stewart Gardner for a museum-wide scavenger hunt!

BOSTech and TUGG’s nonprofits will come together for a fun night of collaboration, drinks, and food in the Gardner Museum’s outdoor courtyard.

August 11

Intro to Data Science

What exactly is Data Science and why does it matter?

We live in a world with seemingly infinite data, and if you can learn the right balance of computer science, statistics, and information theory, there are lucrative opportunities available to you. This class is designed to give newcomers some clarity into how data scientists add value to any organization. Discover case studies about how data science is uniquely positioned to solve major problems for a variety of companies. By the time you finish this class, you’ll have a better idea of what the data science field is, and more importantly, how you can help yourself get what the Harvard Business Review calls the “sexiest job of the 21st century”.

August 11

Ignite Boston: Data

Join us at the District Hall to connect with the data community and hear from those who have survived, thrived, or died in a data-driven world. Then stay to network with a beer and wine reception.

Presenters get 20 slides, which automatically advance every 15 seconds. The result is an evening of fast and fun presentations which each last just 5 minutes.

August 12


BridgehaCS is a two-day span where developers, designers, and thinkers alike can get together to build something totally awesome. The event will take place in Cambridge, Massachusetts at Microsoft’s 1 Cambridge Center office.

August 17

Designs Devs & Drinks: End of Summer Mixer

As the summer comes to a close, join InnoNorth in welcoming the newly opened Notch Brewery to downtown Salem! InnoNorth members will enjoy exclusive access to the gorgeous new brewery while mingling with fellow technologists and designers over session beer.

August 18

Music + Tech: Music API and project night

Save the date for the next Music-Tech Meetup, scheduled on Thursday, August 18, 2016, at 6:30 pm, hosted by WorkBar, Cambridge and BerkleeICE.

August 20

SQL Bootcamp

SQL provides powerful but reasonably simple tools for data analysis and handling. This bootcamp will take absolute beginners through the basics of SQL to an ability to write queries with confidence. We will use a combination of lecture and in-class exercises to ensure that students leave with a working grasp of SQL fundamentals.

August 23

SGO August Monthly Event sponsored by Spotify

Much of the conversation around women in tech these days focuses on female engineers at big tech companies, and their presence (or lack thereof) in these spaces. We would like to showcase a different side of this arena– the intersection of music and technology– and highlight some stellar women working in this space. Many of us think of music as a purely creative endeavor, and while creativity and artistic passion are certainly integral aspects for music, technology is becoming more and more intertwined with and essential to the overall process.

This panel will bring together women who have made their mark in the music and tech space in a variety of different ways and roles. Each woman’s story is important and significant. The panelists will share their unique perspectives on their job functions, how they got to where they are, and how they are working in this unique space.

August 25-26

DevOpsDays Boston 2016

The event’s schedule will consist of a mixture of traditional sessions, ignite talks, and the unique “open space” format that DevOpsDays is known for.

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


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


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.


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:


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.


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.


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


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.


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.