On Saturday, May 31, 2014 – I was given the opportunity to give a presentation at the Code for Seattle, National Day of Civic Hacking event in the Bertha room at City Hall. It was a fun opportunity and reminded me that the secret to public speaking, like other things is practice, practice, practice. I m always really excited to see so many people willing to spend there time working to make their community a better place. Here’s a summary of my presentation.
Where do you start when trying to make a business out of a civic hacking project?
My lens for determining an appropriate business model is to look at a civic hacking project as existing somewhere on the spectrum between a purely policy problem and a purely business problem.
Policy problems are likely educational, informational, or transparency related, and they represent the bulk of problems being work on at civic hackathons. These are things like open data portals, writing an open data policy, visualizing public data: broadband availability, bus routes, affordable housing, etc. Sometimes policy problems become business problems.
A great example of a policy problem is the current wave of open data portals. These are more focused on transparency and creating an ecosystem in which public data is consumed to create more citizen engagement, more economic value, and better government. Nevertheless, once an open data portal is launched, a very real business problem is created, and that problem is maintenance and upkeep.
Policy problems are typically government and citizen-focused and are solved and monetized when:
Governments –Executive or Legislative leaderships adopts a solution to a particular problem through some method of direct sales of product or services to sustain a business.
Citizens – Similar to the online news industry, some combination of a paywall, events, ads, and grants are used to extract revenue and sustain a business.
Business problems are transactional in nature. They are: collecting parking fees, paying taxes, Line of business systems (email, document management, ERP, hosting). Business problems can become policy problems when they fail to function correctly (e.g. healthcare.gov).
Business problems are typically government and commercial sector-focused and are solved by procurement and sales through one of three variations of the Software as a Service model (Open, full-service, and traditional) and Data as a Service (DaaS).
The pdf from my presentation can be found here:
p.s. I’m always happy to discuss this via phone, or coffee. So please don’t hesitate to contact me: Andrew@get-involved.org