Introducing the CUT Group: Get paid to test civic apps

Today we’re excited to launch the Civic User Testing Group, a set of regular Chicago residents who get paid to test out civic apps.

If you live in Chicago, sign up today and get started.

  • Fill out a CUT Group profile and sign up to be a tester of civic apps, and we’ll send you a $5 VISA gift card
  • If and when you are chosen to test a civic app, you get paid a $20 VISA gift card and bus fare

Here’s how we explain the program:

There is a large and growing community of “civic hackers” in Chicago — technology developers who make websites, mobile apps, and other tools that often have specific use in Chicago. The goal is to make software that helps make lives better in the city.

The problem is that lots of civic apps get attention among a smallish group of other developers and people interested in the world of open data, but do not get wide acceptance by the people they were made for — regular residents of the city of Chicago.

You are going to change all that!

We need people from all over the city, using all sorts of devices, browsers and operating systems.

One of the reasons I’m excited about in this project is it is the first launch with my colleague Chris Gansen, who is working with us as a program manager. He last served as an engineer for Obama for America, where he was responsible for their Dashboard tool, which helped get hundreds of thousands of people involved in the election process. We’re privileged to have him focused on our work here in Chicago.

I recently wrote a post, Turning Civic Hacking Into Civic Innovation, where I laid out the immense assets that are available in this city to support this work, and identified a gap:

What’s currently missing? The people.

All of this is great. Two important components for civic innovation, government and developers, are here in force in Chicago. But dozens of developers looking at each other in conference rooms over pizza is never going to lead to making lives better in Chicago without the active involvement of real residents expressing real needs and advocating for software that makes sense to them. The good thing is that Chicago has assets in this area as well.

We think this is a great step in establishing sustained, meaningful collaboration with residents around the data and technology. CUT Group is a lightweight way to get people involved. The hope is once everyone is involved in this world, we’ll find new ways to innovate that we can’t possibly conceive at this time.