Thursday at City Hall, we kicked off the Paper Census — a collaborative effort between Austin Tech Alliance and the City of Austin to identify paper-based processes and prototype digital solutions.

Want to help? Let us know you’re interested.

Working with the Office of Innovation and the Communications and Technology Management Department, Austin Tech Alliance and volunteers from Austin’s tech sector will take inventory of paper processes and non-digital media, solicit community feedback on how we can improve access to city services, then prototype solutions to bring those services into the digital age.

By utilizing skills-based volunteering, Paper Census provides a significant opportunity for individuals in Austin’s tech sector to help solve challenges that impact all Austin residents. In other words:

Austin is breaking up with paper.

This means more than going paperless. The Paper Census will identify and prioritize services that reap the most benefits from a paperless transformation. Digitizing paper-driven processes and day-to-day operations will improve access to services, slash costs, and create endless opportunities for data-informed decision-making.

It’s not just paper — it’s us.

Dealing with paper is costly and inefficient, and digitizing forms and in-person processes cuts transaction costs and wasted time. After all, in a tech-forward city like Austin, residents deserve to access services as easily as they can get groceries delivered or look up their bus schedule.

This collaboration shows the City of Austin is willing to take an innovative approach to improve how city government functions, ultimately saving taxpayer dollars and making services easier for residents to access. It also shows that Austin’s tech sector is ready to stand up and help solve civic challenges.

We’ve found a new partner: data.

Paperless processes reduce errors and produce accurate data we can build on. Open, shareable data empowers the City and the public to make informed decisions about what’s working well and what we can do better.

With hard work and a focus on measurable outcomes, the Paper Census collaboration will lead to a more efficient, accessible, and equitable city government, both for employees and residents.

So what’s next?

Here’s how the Paper Census will play out:

  1. ATA will run an insights campaign to solicit community feedback on local government processes that residents find cumbersome, time-consuming, or inefficient.
  2. ATA will synthesize community data to form public recommendations while building a coalition of resident groups, individuals, and companies that will support civic innovation initiatives.
  3. Working with the City and partner organizations, ATA will design prototypes for digital processes then test and solicit community and City department feedback.

How you can help.

We’re launching the collaboration today, and here are some immediate, simple steps you can take:

  1. Register your personal or company interest in participating in Paper Census.
  2. Once launched, participate in Paper Census’s insights campaign by telling us which City services need transformation.
  3. Help to build a culture of civic engagement in Austin’s tech sector by becoming a member of Austin Tech Alliance.