POLIS: A Civic Tech and Smart Cities Speaker Series

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About This Event

Overview: In collaboration with Georgia Tech, General Assembly is hosting POLIS, a speaker series featuring thought-leaders from the Atlanta civic tech and smart cities communities to discuss the intersection of computational technology, governments, data, and citizenship. The series focuses on themes such as sustaining new civic hacking efforts, emerging modes and sites of engagement, the role of governments in urban technological change, and more. The series is coordinated and moderated by Dr. Thomas Lodato, a research scientist at Georgia Tech working on smart cities and inclusive innovation in Atlanta.

What You’ll Take Away: How governments, civic hackers, and data scientists are using technology to reshape cities and the lives of residents.

Why It Matters: According to a Forbes article, smart cities have “a combined market potential of $1.5 trillion globally […] in segments of energy, transportation, healthcare, building, infrastructure, and governance.” In a 2015 article, Forbes also reports that “[l]ocal and state government will spent an estimated $25.5 billion on information technology this year [with] [c]ivic tech mak[ing] up just 24% of that […] growing 14 times faster than spending on traditional technology.” Combined, these trends illustrate the growing need and emerging role of data scientists, developers, and designers to work in and serve the public sector. As local governments of all sorts adopt computational technology under a variety of “smart” city efforts, and as citizens come to expect public services to operate like their favorite apps, understanding the potential of civic tech and smart cities may be vital to an array of new careers.

About This Month’s Event: Sustaining the Hack 
For the first event of the series, we are happy to focus on the theme of social sustainability within civic technology. From hackathons to monthly meet-ups, many civic tech projects require volunteer labor and casual, extracurricular involvement.

As such, maintaining projects long-term can be a challenge. This month features three speakers who are well aware of the challenges of sustaining civic tech efforts. The panel will focus on issues of organizing, managing, and realizing civic tech projects long-term.


  • Learn about Atlanta events, efforts, and initiatives and find out how to get involved with civic tech and smart cities
  • Learn best practices and emerging domain trends
  • Learn about new career opportunities and portfolio projects



  • Check-in & Networking 7:00 - 7:10 pm
  • Panel/Lighting Talks 7:15 - 8:30 pm
  • Q&A and Networking 8:30 - 9:00 pm


About the Experts

, Co-organizer for Code for Atlanta & Lead Engineer at Vox Media

Luigi is a co-organizer and co-founder of Code for Atlanta, an all-volunteer civic hacking group established in 2014. He also serves on Code for America's National Advisory Council. During the day, he's a senior software engineer at Vox Media.

, Research Scientist in the Center for Urban Innovation,
Georgia Institute of Technology

Thomas is a research scientist at the Georgia Institute of Technology and is affiliated with GT’s Institute of People and Technology (IPaT) and Center for Urban Innovation (CUI). His work focuses on two domains: (1) smart cities and civic technology and (2) future of work. In these areas, Thomas conducts research on open government data, the professionalization of civic hacking, smart city technical assistance, and flexible work practices. You can find him on Twitter at @thomas_lodato

, Program Manager, People Making Progress

Mark's main work is to help adults with developmental disabilities find and maintain employment and live as independently as possible. He also runs the office of a small folk music production company and enjoys the occasional freelance web development project.

He leads a civic hacking project that is working with MARTA towards improving the experience of paratransit users in the Atlanta area.

, Co-organizer, Code for Atlanta

Shawn is co-organizer of Code for Atlanta, where she has served for two years. She also works as a front-end developer at cyber security company Cybraics. Her civic interests include parks and elections. Shawn can be found at http://mapsandapps.net/



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