We built the Civic Switchboard project design around two strong convictions:
First, cultivating a healthy local civic data ecosystem depends upon the coordinated efforts of a variety of data intermediaries. In other words, no single entity can effectively cover all of the necessary roles alone. Cultivating and strengthening data intermediary partnerships is a core objective of this project.
Secondly, we believe that the importance of local context and the variety of local civic data landscapes mean that no single model can be made to fit every city or region. This can be seen, for example, across the network of National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership data intermediaries. Because each community’s civic data ecosystem is unique, the structure of local data intermediaries have evolved to take different shapes. Proposing models for library involvement in civic data at the national level must be done by capturing a wide variety of successful local practices.
Driven by these values, we begin our guide with a section designed to help you understand the unique characteristics of your own civic data ecosystem. In this section, you'll learn more about data intermediaries, and we'll share some techniques you can use to give you a deeper understanding of who and what are already at work in your local context. We recommend that you start here, because we believe that gaining some understanding is a prerequisite for engagement -- our next section.