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New nonprofit, Civic Hall Labs, aims to build tech for the public good

Right now, if a New York City police officer runs into a teenager on the street who’s a runaway, he can’t easily look up where there is a shelter that takes in teenagers and has open beds. Developing the types of technological tools that meet such a challenge is one of the goals of Civic Hall Labs, a new nonprofit that launches today and that aims to build technology for the public good through a collaborative multidisciplinary approach.

It’s an outgrowth of Civic Hall, a collaborative work space in the city for organizations and government agencies that want to “leverage digital tools for societal impact.” The nonprofit’s cofounders Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry and executive director Elizabeth Stewart saw the need for a place that allows civic technology to be piloted and tested, especially projects and ideas that “might not be a venture capital firm’s investment dream, but will improve the welfare and well-being of our communities.”

Two of Civic Hall Labs’ initial projects: One focused on health would work to create an open data standard to synchronize an interoperable exchange with health and human services data and the other, Justice Lab, that works on criminal justice and economic justice issues.MB