What is Civic Innovation?

Jan 8, 2020 | Insights

Put simply, civic innovation is the practice of changing the way that a society works at any level.


Anything that increases civic engagement, improves a city’s infrastructure, or increases societal wellbeing could be considered a form of civic innovation. Public affairs professionals stand in the gap between governments and the communities they serve, making them an important part of a community’s social infrastructure. Civic innovation is a major motivation for public affairs work at all levels of society. 


What are some examples of civic innovation?


  • Improving infrastructure 

Whether it’s fixing a crumbling road or just redesigning them to be more efficient, investing in a city’s infrastructure can go a long way in terms of improving its overall functionality. When residents of a city can get to where they’re going without unnecessary hassle, they’ll have more time and energy to invest in the larger community, as well as more motivation. 


  • Improving health and safety 

Crime, drug use, and poverty are some of the most serious threats to a community’s health and safety, and they can affect a city of any size. Fixing them often requires open mindedness and a willingness to consider new strategies, particularly if past attempts have failed. Improving access to social programs, information, and health services are examples of civic innovation. 


  • Improving civic engagement 

Citizens have the right to be heard. Disenfranchisement leads to apathy, resentment, and a decline in the overall health of a community. Civic innovation includes any measure that removes obstacles to civic engagement, such as providing information about and access to polling locations during elections. It is also important that citizens are encouraged to participate, not simply allowed to. Measures to ensure transparency and prevent corruption at all levels of government are also important to encourage civic engagement, because they ensure citizens that their participation is actually making a difference. 


Civic innovation depends on enacting public policy that works for the community, not just for policymakers. Involvement in public affairs can empower your organization to influence public policy in a way that brings it forwards into the future, not backwards.

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