Technology has been used to make our lives easier, faster, and more interesting. With apps like Dropbox, we can organize and access files anywhere, Facebook connects us with people all over the world, and MyFitnessPal keeps us fit and lean. But lately, with the growing demand for products that makes a difference, technology is being used for social good.
In Santa Cruz, CA a company called Civinomics is working hard to increase civic engagement, a feat not many willingly take on. Civinomics provides an online platform in which community members can propose solutions to local issues. The platform engages both citizens and government agencies, bridging a gap that has caused distrust and strife between elected officials and communities.
Hack UCSC 2015
Civinomics is just the beginning of a tech movement in Santa Cruz that is committed to more than just making the coolest new app. This weekend, UC Santa Cruz is hosting their second annual hackathon, with a social good twist. Hack UCSC 2015 has an award called Tech Cares that will be given to the top three hack projects that are focused on solving a social or environmental issue.The winners receive money that can be donated to a local nonprofit of their choice. The Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp will match the award from the Community Foundation Santa Cruz County to be used by the winners as seed funding to start their apps.
The Tech Cares award was created to launch an initiative in Santa Cruz County in which technology and philanthropy work together to create innovative advancements that help solve social and environmental issues. “As the tech industry grows in Santa Cruz, we want to make sure we create advancements that benefit the community. Creating an award that incentivizes students to build apps to solve a social or environmental issue is just the beginning,” said Doug Erickson, founder of the Santa Cruz New Tech MeetUp.
Local non-profits have also been encouraged to propose hack project ideas that would help them reach their mission or solve a problem they are facing. So far projects have been proposed by O’Neill Sea Odyssey, Watsonville Wetlands Watch, Digital NEST, Watsonville Tecnología-Educación-Comunidad, and El Pajaro Community Development Corporation. Read about the project ideas at the Hack UCSC 2015 Facebook page.
Bridging technology and social good provides the potential to greatly increase the impact community initiatives can offer. In Santa Cruz, the impact is growing already, with a platform in which social and environmental projects are incentivized and encouraged to join in the tech movement. If you’re a hacker that wants to make a difference, Santa Cruz is the place to be.
Another opportunity to hack for social good is during Social Good Tech Week from January 27th-February 1st in San Francisco. On Saturday, January 31st Social Good Tech Week is hosting a Social Good Tech Hackathon (registration will be released on Jan 12th). Purchase your tickets now at eventbrite.com.