The Connected Communities Initiative at CITRIS focuses on the affordances of information technology to enhance communities – of learning, of practice, and of governance. The new initiative embraces the development of experimental online platforms and novel hardware and software systems that connect peers to each other and to institutions in meaningful and productive ways. Building on leadership expertise in human-computer interaction, user interface design, as well as political, social and economic development, the initiative supports projects in domains including education (in MOOCs, peer-to-peer expertise sharing and “maker” communities), collaborative design, philanthropy, journalism, public health, citizen science, and ICT policy. It contributes to our understanding of crowdsourced learning, decision-making and funding. The Connected Communities Initiative supports ongoing activities in the CITRIS Invention Lab, Social Apps Lab, Mobile App Challenge, as well as events related to open data, privacy and security, governance, and related topics.
The Connected Communities Initiative emerges from a long history of projects to improve communications among community members and the elected officials, policymakers and institutions making decisions on their behalf. The Data and Democracy Initiative, founded in 2011 and a precursor to the present Initiative, showcased and supported such projects regarding political, social and economic issues. Examples include the California Report Card, Vote Your Mind, Stories of Solidarity, Peer-to-PCAST, and others.