September 27, 2021
Public Interest Technology is an emerging field that uses technological expertise in service of the common good, often with a focus on under-resourced communities. Today, the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia hosted Public Interest Technology, the latest event in our Innovation Breakfast Series.

The one-hour webinar examined the need for Public Interest Technologists. People who sit at the intersection of big data and inclusive community input. People who want to use their tech and data expertise to promote the common good.

The virtual discussion featured Andreen Soley, Director, Public Interest Technology University Network New America, Sylvester A. Johnson, Executive Director of the Tech for Humanity Initiative & Assistant Vice Provost for Humanities, Virginia Tech, and Robert Smith, Boeing Senior Technical Fellow CHDP Distinguished Professor of Practice, Virginia Tech.

“Too few people with technical skills exist in government, and even fewer with technical and policy-oriented knowledge,” said Soley. “PIT can help government processes work better to be responsive to constituents’ needs. PIT can also improve how nonprofits function and how they deliver their programs."

At Virginia Tech, a university-wide initiative focused on human-centered approaches to technology and innovation, has long focused on the future of humanity in the age of intelligent machines.

“We’re developing curriculums that help to shape and promote public benefit, public interest,” said Johnson. "From here on, major decisions shaping our society will increasingly be made by algorithmic machines working in concert with people.”

The mission of the Community Foundation is a community and the shared prosperity of everyone in the region we serve. Public Interest Technology can further that mission and help “build a community that works for everyone”.

“We need public-interest technologists – professionals who want to use their tech and data expertise to promote the common good,” said Eileen Ellsworth, president and CEO of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia.

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