Sam Korach is an “Executive in Residence” at Cintrifuse from Ernst and Young. He works primarily with Spry Labs and Cintrifuse’s Customer Connections team.
Technologists, entrepreneurs, corporates, academics and city leaders from across the country collided in an affinity for community betterment at Union Hall on Friday. IX Health — hosted by Spry Labs, The Health Collaborative and 17a — was a consortium of “street-level” tech aficionados that focused on the major problems belonging to all of us.
The day was filled with problem-focused conversations and loud sound bites of inspiration. These were my big takeaways from another thought-provoking day at Union Hall.
1 – Technology as “the Enabler” for Civic Betterment – Approaching a wide variety of problems that our community faces, IX Health proved that technology is the key. As human as these issues are, and as critical as it is for these solutions to complement human behavior, technology has the power to build and scale solutions.
From a civic perspective we heard from…
- Ted Smith (CEO of Revon Systems and former Chief Innovation Officer of the City of Louisville). Ted took the audience through the story of how his technology attacked a major public health issue — poor air quality.
- Adam Hecktman (Microsoft Civic Tech Leader, Chicago & Cleveland). Adam shared how technology platforms were repurposed to enable and create dialogues between citizens and their city with Chicago’s Citizen Service app.
- Spry Labs. Spry showed how technology could empower “on-the-ground” community, benefit workers’ measure and coordinate efforts across a city or region.
From a personal health standpoint…
- Pacify Health taught the crowd how their technology served new mothers and underserved populations by providing a network connection to RNs, OBs and lactation consultants in an on-demand, low-cost setting.
- Chris Bergman, CEO of FamilyTech, showed us how the company’s product is evolving to enact behavior change and driving better adherence and health outcomes.
- SafeRide also showed us how technology could solve major access issues that hospital systems are facing when public transportation may not be suitable to transport the elderly and sick to their appointments.
2 – Open Source as “the Philosophy” for Civic Tech – Collaboration and openness about our problems and potential solutions allows us to solve in “our own dirt.” Case and point — Spry’s “Flip the Pitch” showed the value of being open and honest about the problems we face and exposing those to the public
- Kroger exposed the crowd to their Zero Hunger, Zero Waste campaign, which will certainly require outside perspectives and talent to accomplish
- Antwoine Flowers, an entrepreneur at the Hillman accelerator, sought partnership to enable the fourth pillar of care – improved clinician/researcher experience with an eye towards innovative research.
- Cincinnati Children’s Medical Hospital focused their outreach on provide patients with ways to navigate and wayfind through a healthcare system that is often complex
3 – A session on the success of Cincinnati’s “Hacking Heroin” initiative unearthed similar openness about the problem and the need for an open source mindset to solve a big, hairy problem. Their panel shared the difficult environment that civic organizations face – when entities compete for funding, for resources and for talent. Hacking Heroin’s highlights included…
- The need to focus on sharing funding, sharing resources and sharing talent to lift collective efforts.
- It’s worth noting Ted Smith echoed those sentiments of friendly fire – when organizations that should have been at his side became difficult to work with.
- The scars of these experiences were very real, but when an openness about problems and existing solutions combine, the result is a type of agency that can conquer the day.
4 – The Conditions for Civic Tech – or, putting a bow on the whole day. What conditions must be present for this to work in a community?
- A strong dialogue. One of the most consistent threads of the day was the need for a continuous conversation about the problems.
- Civic tech is only as sustainable as the financial model that it sits on – One of the biggest struggles shared by Ted Smith, was the challenge of creating the right investment case. With all of the advancements and all of the potential that comes with civic tech, somebody must bear the cost to reach the desired outcomes. Ideally, and most often, there is some sort of benefit that is delivered to all parties involved.
- Building Together – Adam Hecktman’s parting words of advice was to build these solutions together. “If you build it without [a community], it won’t work and it certainly won’t scale. Build with, not for.”
Let’s get talking and let’s get building.