CIVIC 2021 — Community Impact and Next Steps for the Inaugural CIVIC Projects

On September 22, 2022, seventeen teams of community and academic partners presented at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC to present the culmination of their work over the last twelve months of bringing fast-paced civic research concepts to local communities. In addition to the teams, seven federal agencies joined this event to learn more about the outcomes of the projects as CIVIC provides funding directly to communities on critical national issues, including mobility and access to jobs, as well as resiliency and climate.

CIVIC is a multi-agency, federal government research and action competition that aims to fund ready-to-implement, research-based pilot projects that have the potential for scalable, sustainable, and transferable impact on community-identified priorities. It aims to flip the community-university dynamic, inviting communities to identify civic priorities ripe for innovation and to then partner with researchers to address those priorities. It is a two-stage competition in which 52 teams received a 6-month planning grant, a group that was down-selected to 17 teams that received up to $1 million in funding to implement a pilot in twelve months.

The Stage 2 full award projects began their 12-month pilot in fall of 2021. While this group faced unpredictable challenges, such as COVID and implementing nascent ideas, much was accomplished.

SCALABILITY: often pilots scale their services or concepts as concepts are proven or learned.

  • The Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA) and Georgia Tech have expanded the CIVIC pilot program that provides a rideshare service designed to connect riders to-and from MARTA bus and rail. The pilot was expanded to additional areas of Atlanta, including Dixie Hills, neighborhood and cities of Avondale Estates, Alpharetta, Roswell, Forest Park, and Morrow. MARTA is now examining whether and how to deploy on-demand transit in the future based on the pilot analysis. This process should occur in the next year.

SUSTAINABILITY: teams have worked to develop plans and diversified sources of funding to continue their pilot beyond the 12 month pilot period.

  • The State of Wisconsin will provide $4M in funding to continue FlexRide Milwaukee, an on-demand microtransit service that aims to connect workers living in segregated neighborhoods in Milwaukee with jobs in suburban employment centers.

TRANSFERABILITY: as local pilots address priority challenges, it is to everyone’s benefit that these concepts can go from one location to another — creating national impact, one local community at a time.

  • The Convergence, Inventory, Matching, and Assignment (CIMA) solution is a management platform for housing recovery deployable by a recovery partnership, municipality, LTRG, or VOAD responding to housing damage and displaced populations stemming from flooding, earthquake, or tornado. CIMA facilitates the management of converging volunteer labor and donated materials, and next prioritizes these resources to the scheduled repair of vulnerable households likely to experience the greatest displacement times. Designed for the first adopter, a recovery partnership within the Hampton Roads region, the team is in the customer discovery phase and in conversations with potential commercial partners.

Other outcomes from the full award teams include:

  • In partnership with the Ohkay Owingeh board of Governors, and law enforcement and emergency officers from the Ohkay Owingeh pueblo, a team of University of New Mexico researchers, and engineers and scientists from High Water Mark LLC have deployed 70 low-cost wireless sensors to understand flood and fire risk, empowering the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo community with affordable, accurate, and validated data from rain and flooding at seven different strategic locations chosen by Ohkay Owingeh.

The work from these teams is not over. Indeed, it is just getting started. The CIVIC program will continue to work with these civic entrepreneurs as NSF and MetroLab Network, a supporter of CIVIC, develop a community of practice. These innovative concepts will continue to iterate and scale. And each of these seventeen teams will continue to strengthen their partnerships.

Supporting actionable civic research will bring positive and inclusive impacts to our communities. As CIVIC 2022 begins working with 56 new teams in Stage One, NSF and its supporting federal partners are committed to this important effort and look forward to continuing this program.

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