Civic Tech and GovTech, It’s About People (and Processes)

We look at the similarities and differences between the terms civic tech and govtech.


In the melange of digital government terms, ‘civic tech’ and ‘govtech’ sound similar. The terms are sometimes used interchangeably, or sometimes they mean something different. It depends who you are talking to, and from what perspective. For example, if you are talking about the virtues of automating government records, its govtech. If you are talking about the ability to access city permit records online, well that’s civic tech.

According to GovTech in 2016, “Civic tech is technology that enables greater participation in government or otherwise assists government in delivering citizen services and strengthening ties with the public.”

The publication focuses on the business of govtech, solving problems, through the “smart use of technology,” according to its Twitter account. In 2016, it developed its first GovTech100 list of the leading companies focused on government as a customer.

So govtech is a market, an industry or types of technology products.

From Civic Tech to Digital Transformation

CitizenLab, a provider of civic engagement software, wrote on its blog in November 2017, that ‘govtech’ is growing faster than ‘civic tech,’ “which has been a well-established concept for a longer time already.” The beneficiary of govtech is governments, but the beneficiary of civic tech is citizens, the company concluded.

The firm Onalytica used its Influencer Relationship Management software to define the top 100 govtech influences and brands, saying that “govtech will prove to be one of the biggest market opportunities hiding in plain sight.” The firm analyzed more 390,000 Tweets from October 7 through October 29, 2016, that mentioned the key words:

  • govtech,, or gov tech
  • public services or public services
  • transport service, transportservice, transport services, or transportservices
  • health service or healthservice
  • public sector, publicsector, or government
  • new tech, newtech, new technology, newtechnology, emerging tech, emergingtech, emerging technology or emergingtechnology
  • efficiency
  • innovation
  • tech firms, techfirms, technology firms, technologyfirms, tech companies, techcompanies, technology companies or technologycompanies

Further, the study of the tweets found what’s driving both civic tech and govtech are innovation design and process, Internet of Things (IoT), startups, Big Data, artificial intelligence (AI), smart cities, open data and cloud tools.

When people confront these processes, its digital transformation of our world. According to the report, “transforming the public sector to offer new public services and make it more efficient, fast and more transparent and ease the communication between government and its citizens. “

Andrea Fox is Editor of and Senior Editor at Lexipol. She is based in Massachusetts.