Giving Compass' Take:

• Here are four questions that cities should consider when thinking about equitable technology, discussed by experts across city government, from equity offices and smart cities teams.

• What are the roles of donors in driving progress in technology and equity?

• Read more about building equitable smart cities. 

Cities in the United States and around the world are applying emerging technology in new ways to improve the lives of their residents.

Simultaneously, cities are making explicit equity commitments (PDF) and applying new citywide processes to combat increasing inequality. Taken together, these two trends could yield innovative technology programs to address entrenched inequities.

But without better tools and data to enable cities to explicitly hardwire equity into technology programs, technology could instead exacerbate inequities.

Over the past few months, with support from the Mastercard Impact Fund, in collaboration with Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, we have conducted interviews with nearly 40 experts from city governments and community organizations to understand the challenges cities face in implementing equitable technology programs.

Our subjects identified that bureaucratic silos separating city equity and technology officials represent a key barrier to innovation in this space.

At the Urban Institute’s recent Expert Roundtable on Technology and Equity, we broke down these silos by bringing together experts across city government, from equity offices to smart cities teams, from six geographically diverse US cities—Austin, Boston, Kansas City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Portland—to understand how cities are approaching equitable technology. During the discussion, attendees identified the following key questions they are actively engaging within their own cities.

  1. Do we have a shared definition of equity?
  2. How do we identify whether a problem can be addressed by technology?
  3. How do we meaningfully engage communities around technology?
  4. How can we effectively balance transparency and resident privacy?

Read the full article about equitable technology by Alena Stern at Urban Institute.