Reflecting on the past and looking toward the future of the field

Quote from the article positioned over an image of a design workshop with San Francisco in 2012.
Quote from the article positioned over an image of a design workshop with San Francisco in 2012.
Image: Design workshop for the City of San Francisco Recreation & Parks Department in 2012 | Source: Author

The second decade of the millennium is well and done, and we are inching our way into the early days of civic technology in 2021. Over the last ten years, the field has certainly grown and become better defined. In Cyd Harrell’s recently published Civic Technologist Practice Guide, she describes civic tech as a “loosely integrated movement that brings the strengths of the private-sector tech world…to public entities with the aim of making government more responsive, efficient, modern, and more just.” …


In the last week of Black History Month, Nava is celebrating the contributions of Black men and women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).

Graphic with images of five black technologists, and the words Alan & Marian & Mark & Janet & Erica
Graphic with images of five black technologists, and the words Alan & Marian & Mark & Janet & Erica

In 1821, Thomas Jennings, a free Black man born in New York City, obtained a patent for a new method of cleaning clothes that he called “dry scouring.” Though the record of his patent was lost in a fire, historians believe Jennings was the first Black American to receive a patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). …


Teaching Harvard Students to Embrace Design, Innovation, and Discomfort

The article title “Learning to Embrace Ambiguity” written in yellow on top of a darkened picture of post-it notes.
The article title “Learning to Embrace Ambiguity” written in yellow on top of a darkened picture of post-it notes.

Harvard students are typically taught to have the answers. Not in DPI-663, where students from across Harvard tackle real challenges with government clients.

In the course DPI-663: Technology and Innovation in Government — ­which I helped design, launch, and run when I was at the Harvard Kennedy School — clients come to their student teams with problems that don’t have clear solutions. Students must learn to avoid prescribing a solution too early. …


This essay is for my brother, and anyone else looking for simple words of wisdom this November.

The 2016 Summer Fellows of the Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics in front of Boston City Hall.

“What is the best piece of advice a parent or mentor has given you?” I was asked this question in July of 2016, in a windowless conference room on the sixth floor of Boston City Hall.

With seven others, I was working as a summer fellow for Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. All summer, our small group had generated questions like this one, scribbling them on post-it notes lining the wall of our tiny office. One by one we shared our answers: “Make your own story,” one said. “Anything worth doing is worth doing well,” was another response.

We were students…


Originally researched and written as part of an independent study for the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Service Blueprint | Source: Author

Public services include everything from providing public infrastructure like trains and roads, to collecting taxes, processing immigration requests, issuing passports, and providing social benefits. While the private sector has been employing design methodologies popularized by design consulting firms like IDEO and frog to improve product development and customer experience for decades, the public sector has lagged behind.[1]

Originally developed in 1982, service design is an approach used to craft services holistically, considering both front-end and back-end processes and multichannel touchpoints from physical to…

Angelica Quicksey

Nerding out about design, tech, cities, & government. Currently Designer @NavaPBC. Formerly Fjord, Harvard, City of Boston, City of San Francisco. Views = mine.

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