A special birthday, a computer game and great news for our hearts — we’ve got a really interesting selection of must-reads for you this week! 

You know the drill by now: Friday stands for compelling and thought-provoking civic tech news. Grab a coffee (or a celebratory almost-weekend-drink), find a cozy reading nook, and dive into it with us!

1. “The World Wide Web turns 30. Where does it go from here?” By Tim Berners-Lee for Wired

Happy birthday to our favourite journal, bank, school, doctor’s office, photo album and cinema! Can you imagine the internet is turning 30? 

Remember the days of waiting 10 minutes for an image to load? The web has changed drastically from those first milestones, and so has the world, thanks to its surge. How will the internet evolve in the future, and which role can governments play to help keep it a safe place for everyone? “The web is for everyone, and collectively we hold the power to change it,” writes Berners-Lee. 

2. “Smart Cities are going green because it costs less.” By Miriam Tuerk for Forbes

Metropolises around the world are finding smart solutions to increase safety, connectivity, traffic efficiency and overall quality of life. But with those innovations comes the challenge of how our cities are powered. 

Smart devices are replacing old infrastructure, and that requires some disruptive and costly construction work. This interesting article explores how various cities in North-America tackle this challenge. Spoiler: the solutions are sustainable and eco-friendly. 

3. “Democracy is good for your health and heart, major study finds.” By Mark Rice-Oxley

There are a few things you can do to boost the health of your heart, and apparently, living in a democratic society is one of them. This study states that in countries that have switched to a democratic system since 1970, life expectancy improved, there were fewer deaths from cardiovascular diseases and diseases such as cancer or cirrhosis. 

How did fair and free elections save an estimated 16 million people’s lives between 1994 and 2014? It sounds absolutely nuts, but when you dive into it a little deeper, it actually makes a lot of sense. “Free and fair elections appear important for improving adult health … most likely by increasing government accountability and responsiveness,” the study states. A great read for whoever needed yet another reason to love democracy!

4. “Inside Taiwan’s new digital democracy.” By Audrey Tang for the Economist

Okay — we know we’ve already addressed the Taiwanese case and Digital Minister Tang in our previous reading list. But it’s truly an interesting case, and what makes it even better is that this article is written by the leading lady herself. 

In this piece, Tang explores the foundations of the gØv (“gov-zero”) movement in a country that hasn’t always enjoyed political freedom, and dives deeper into the pillars of Taiwan’s digital democracy. “In addition to lowering the barriers to democracy, this approach is also a process of mutual understanding. When the public sees the results of collaboration, it leads to more participation,” states Tang. Amen to that. 

5. “Can you save ‘Apolitical Land’s’ health service?’ By Apolitical

Hey, it’s Friday — it doesn’t always have to be heavy reading. It’s time for a challenge!

Apolitical developed an educational game that challenges public servants to help the citizens of a fictional land. The goal is to lower the increasing demand of emergency health services through specific interventions, ranging from cross-sector partnerships to digital services. Do you have what it takes? 

6. “SXSW 2019: Civic-minded Startups compete for mayor’s votes.” By Eyragon Eidam for Gov Tech

Last week, we saw how the Danish government announced an open call for startups that solve public sector challenges. As it turns out, that was just a spark of a larger fire, because 

Austin, Texas, hosted a competition in the same spirit. Innovators got the chance to pitch their tech ideas to mayors across the USA — and win a $10,000 prize. 

The pitches included training systems for first responders, heat sensors for tenants, AI and software automation in the workforce, and machine learning algorithms. But the pitch that snatched the prize was a mobile app to help police, fire and EMS people to respond to mental health crises. What idea would you pitch to solve public challenges? 

Too bad – that’s all we’ve got for this week! We’ll be back next Friday with some fresh civic tech news.

And if you just can’t get enough, head to our blog or subscribe to our newsletter to scratch the rest of your digital democracy itch. Are you thinking of implementing digital participation in your local government? Get in touch or download our free e-guide that covers all the basics!

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