As we enter a new year, it’s time to look back at what Austin Tech Alliance has achieved in our second year. Thanks to the hard work and dedication of ATA’s members, we have much to celebrate, including:
- ATA released a policy agenda in partnership with the local Code for America brigade, Open Austin. This ranged in topic from affordability to mobility to connectivity. This helped solve local civic challenges.
- We sent letters to Mayor Adler and Council members urging the City to speed up the permitting process of small cells, the technology that will bring 5G to Austin. Additionally we issued an op-ed that ran in the Statesman about the slow pace of small cell permitting. We also hosted an event along with the Texas 5G Alliance where we chatted with City officials and policy experts about 5G implementation.
- In November 2017 we endorsed the Austin ISD bond proposal that included $55 million for district-wide technological improvements. In 2018 there was a lot investment made in building out a more tech-conscious, educational environment with ten modernization projects and 14 project teams.
- We engaged the public this year on mobility and saw a rise of dockless mobility options in Austin this year.
- We had the opportunity to ride and test bikes during our Dockless Mobility on Two Wheels event where we brought in City experts and electric bike companies to chat about the future of dockless bikes in Austin.
- We also hosted a conversation and brainstorm session with the new CEO of CapMetro, Randy Clarke about the future of mobility in Austin and its intersection with tech.
- We learned about Austin’s Smart Mobility Roadmap from Karla Taylor, chief of staff for the Austin Transportation Department and the City’s approach to shared, electric, and autonomous vehicle technologies.
- ATA worked to close the digital divide by working with The Digital Empowerment Community of Austin to successfully raise The Grant for Technology Opportunities Program, securing funding for 2019 grant applicants.
We teamed up with the City of Austin and Capital Factory to launch the $100,000 Smart Cities Investment Challenge and picked two startups that will receive an investment to transform Austin into a city of the future.
In September we partnered with Leadership Austin to launch informed.vote, an educational site for residents to learn who represents them on the ballot. Far too many Austin tech employees do not know where candidates for elected office stand on issues important to them. The most robust way to find out – candidate questionnaires from community organizations – are not easy to find unless a voter already knows about a particular community group or does significant research into the causes and candidates they care about.
Informed.vote engaged over 25 local organizations to publish their candidate questions and answers.
- Paper Census
Paper Census is Austin Tech Alliance’s ongoing collaboration with the City of Austin to identify paper-based processes that are a hassle for Austin residents and then research, design, and deliver digital prototypes. We collaborated on three projects:
- Austin Transportation Department
Over three months, ATA and the City worked together to help make the Austin Transportation Department’s (ATD) Residential Parking Program’s processes more effective and efficient. We provided digital prototypes, engineering requirements and designs to ATD, where they will develop a renewal portal for a 2019 launch. ATD is using our tested designs, descriptions of the features, and future state recommendations that our research provided.
- Austin-Travis County EMS:
We collaborated with ATCEMS to better understand why residents were not taking advantage of a new product, the Fall Prevention Program. We provided recommendations to ATCEMS that included a program name change, and hosted a 3-day long elder care convening at City Hall that allowed many elder care service providers in the county to come together and learn about all the services in the area.
- Office of the Police Monitor
We worked with the Office of the Police Monitor (OPM) to understand the current pain points and obstacles residents face when submitting complaints about their experience with the Austin Police Department. After researching and interviewing over 20 organizations and members of the public we provided 27 recommendations to OPM ranging from hiring needs to a departmental name change.
- Austin Transportation Department
Midterm elections kept us busy!
Here’s what ATA and TechVotes were up to during election season:
- Hosted City Council District 1,3, 8 and 9 candidate forums, along with a Mayoral community forum
- Partnered with TX Votes to create the Tech & Policy Speaker Series which was created to increase voting in STEM students
- Coordinated over 20 voter registration drives at our member companies and registered almost 300 people!
- Submitted our questionnaire to all local candidates and published our results on informed.vote
- Partnered with City leaders and other tech companies at a press conference that encouraged business leaders to make voting a priority and give employees two hours off to vote on election day
- Issued a members-only guide for how to get your team out to the polls
- Created a cool TechVotes voting infographic based on data we collected from you, our members!
ATA held many community events in 2018 ranging from Volunteer Deputy Registrar trainings to community engagement feedback sessions for Paper Census and informed.vote.
Some highlights include our SXSW event featuring Senator Mark Warner who talked with us about cybersecurity. We had the chance to chat with State Representative Donna Howard and Special Assistant to the Mayor Adler during our Beer & Bar Charts event, and with John-Michael Cortez about how we use data to make informed policy and business decisions. We hosted a lunch and learn covering tax and security law implications of cryptocurrencies and other blockchain tokens. We also participated in Austin Design Week, Austin Startup Week’s Social Impact Day and were interviewed for a social innovation podcast.
ATA closed out 2018 with more than 70 member companies and over a thousand individual members — proof that there is incredible appetite to build civic engagement into the core culture of Austin’s tech sector. With Austin continuously popping up on top cities and top tech community lists, we expect that number to continue creeping up as our community becomes even more civically engaged.
What’s next in 2019?
2019 promises even more opportunities for Austin Tech Alliance members. The Texas Legislature just began, and there’s no better time to get engaged with ATA on issues that affect the tech community.
If you haven’t joined ATA yet, now’s the moment. After all, ATA is a member-based nonprofit made up of the grassroots of Austin’s tech sector.
Becoming a member allows you to magnify your voice and make Austin the city of the future — while protecting the unique culture that attracts us here. Joining as a member company gives your employees the opportunity to help drive the direction of ATA and helps to build a culture of civic engagement in our tech community.