What is the role of NAC?


What is the role of the National Advisory Council (NAC)?

That question came up in the 2/11/19 NAC candidate forum. Chris Whitiker provided a nice historical context about the need for a more formal structure as the brigade network grew from ~9-12 to >40 in a short time frame. The challenges that growth created are well articulated by the following Ted video recommended by CW.

More than just those internal organizational challenges, what is truly unique however about the NAC however IMHO is the simple fact that the NAC is (as far as I know?) the ONLY elected public technology body representing tens of thousands of volunteers across the entire country. That provides makes the NACs voice unique.

That voice is particularly important in the broader context on the epochal changes afoot in civic / gov / urban tech. For example, Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiarity of Google, is the latest globo-corp trying to build smart cities.

That has seen substantial substantial pushback from local community leaders like Bianca Wylie. As cities operations are digitized, it’s important that technology companies don’t end up monopolizing everything.

The challenge all of us in the public sector face is that there are many many more resources to deploy and scale technology in the private sector. Cities are just starting to collaborate and pool technical talent to tackle common challenges.

The City of LA has led the development of a new data standard to better manage micro-mobility (basically shared e-scooters and e-bikes).

My personal bias is that the NAC should be a proactive and strong advocate for better public technology and the proactive modernization of public institutions. A digital tsunami is coming for cities as rising citizen expectations of digital experiences collide with legacy government operations.

It’s important that we help cities proactively surf that wave of change.