Recent news from the Center for Civic Media | MIT Center for Civic Media

Recent news from the Center for Civic Media

Building Civic Tech with Mexico City's Experts (Its Citizens)

written by Erhardt Graeff and Emilie Reiser


CC-BY-SA: Mexico City by Kasper Christensen


Mexico City is huge. Over 21 million people live in the metro area—the most populous in the Western hemisphere. Nearly 9 million people live in the federal district alone. There are pockets of immigrants from all over the world and of course the full spectrum of Mexican ethnicities. This means there are myriad interesting issues to tackle and a wide mix of voices with opinions on how best to go about it.

August 31–September 4, 2015, the MIT Center for Civic Media traveled to Mexico City for a workshop organized by the Laboratório para la Ciudad and MIT Media Lab. Gabriella Gómez-Mont, the Laboratório's founder and director, is a Director's Fellow at the Media Lab this year, which opened the door to collaboration.


In a few intense days, we worked with Laboratório staff and local experts, as well as select students from nearby universities, to prototype projects worthy of Mexico City's scale and complexity. Our team focused on how to integrate new forms of citizen input into the planning and transformation of public spaces around the city using both digital and non-digital strategies. Our solution: EncuestaCDMX (

The Story Behind MIT and Boston University's New Legal Clinic for Student Innovation

Today, MIT President Rafael Reif announced an exciting collaboration between MIT and the Boston University School of Law "to assist students with a broad range of legal matters related to entrepreneurship and cyber law, from basic issues associated with the founding of startup companies to novel questions about the application of laws and regulations to students’ innovation-related activities" (here's the BU press release). The legal clinic is the culmination of years of discussions and work by student advocates, faculty, and administration to address a recurring need at MIT for robust and supportive legal help for students doing innovative work.

In this blog post, I tell our story and take a moment to thank the hundreds of people who helped create this safety net for creative innovation at MIT.

Land and Water : a long-term perspective

From the website:

We will explore themes of reduced access that have developed out of tensions in property-holding, leases, and contracts; forms of control exerted or facilitated by the state, by law, and by other institutions; and exclusions of class, race, and gender. We believe that history has lessons to offer about how change is introduced to society. In taking this long perspective, the conference invites proposals that look backwards in order to look forwards.
Academics will have an opportunity to be inspired by the practical questions of activists acting in the present, as activists talk about their work, their present projects, questions, and concerns. Activists, in turn, will have the opportunity to articulate large structural conceptions such as capitalism, empire, or debt in relation to access to land and water.

Citizens & City Hall Monitor Sanitation in Belem

This past week in the northern Brazilian city of Belém do Pará, we had the pleasure of commemorating the first official collaboration between a civil society group and local government to monitor city issues using Promise Tracker. During a 2-day sprint, we teamed up with the Social Observatory of Belém and City Hall's Department of Solid Waste to review some of the largest contracts for sanitation and waste removal in the city and launch a monitoring campaign to assess the performance of the company hired to provide these services.


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