Civic Technology

University of Chicago Computational Analytics and Public Policy

Course Description

When you build civic technology it has the opportunity of touching millions of lives. Plus, you enter an industry – the public sector – that spends over $100 billion every year on technology.

Civic tech has tremendous opportunity.

But also real challenges: getting access to the right data, understanding the existing infrastructure, and knowing what to build are non-trivial questions.

In this course, we will go through the process of building good civic tech, and you’ll learn how to build tech that makes a difference in people’s lives.

That will involve practical education around how governments operate, how to access and connect to government databases (Python), how to clean that data up into something useful (ETLs), how to build a web application that address a civic issue (Javascript, Ruby, or Python), and how to deploy that application to the users that need it.


  • Understand and identify opportunities for civic application development
  • Be able to connect to governmental data systems
  • Be able to quickly build and deploy useful civic apps
  • Be able to manipulate data from governmental systems into actionable datastores
  • Build an application that uses civic and government data that addresses a real need
  • Articulate the value proposition of your application to stakeholders


  • Mathematics for Computer Science and Data Analysis
  • Computer Science with Applications 2
  • OR
  • Introduction to Programming or Data Skills for Public Policy


  • Databases for Public Policy

More on the course

You can download a pdf verson of the full syllabus and course overview here.