Our theme-based Labs exist at the intersection of design, open data, culture, and technology. Within each we apply design-thinking, research and data, and prototyping best practices to create tangible, evidence-based products and services that advance solutions to public sector challenges such as criminal justice, public health, urban infrastructure, public education, and economic development. In doing so, we seek to meaningfully grow the field of civic tech, and reimagine civic participation for the 21st century.

Within each Lab we partner with individuals, civic tech startups, institutions, government agencies, and foundations to:

Assess and Design

Using tools user-centered design, appreciative inquiry, and systems-based thinking,

we work at the structural level to identify design questions that address roots of public challenges. From there we move through collaborative, multi-disciplinary process working with end-users, domain experts, and developers to generate ideas and new combinations of ideas and assess which to pursue.

Build and Test

Once we’ve selected a core idea to pursue, we shift into prototyping mode comprised of design, development, building, and testing. Techniques like user research, wire-framing, matchmaking, and community building contribute to this iterative, cyclical process that requires deep engagement and relationships with end-users, data collection, and technical problem-solving to generate measurements that conclude the experimental phase.


Deploy and Replicate

Once we’ve rigorously tested, collected and analyzed data, we develop sustainable financial models where appropriate, start wider deployment of the product or service, and facilitate either national scaling or replication with strategic partners.


Evaluate and Report


All data and learnings along the process will be shared as tools and findings in order to produce further experimentation by

the Labs and others.

Throughout, these actions are informed by our foundational “build with, not for” principle, operationalized through including a user-centered design lens at every stage.


Current Labs in development include:


  • Justice Lab
    Bringing together key players in the criminal justice ecosystem, we're exploring opportunities for computer science to help alleviate some of the data problems that are creating long pre-trial wait times in Riker's (the Doodle for Rikers) and other issues.

  • Culture of Health Lab

Situate several experts from Robert Wood Johnson at Civic Hall to help support members in realizing the health value of their work through advising, events, and a mini-grant program to catalyze work at the intersection of civic innovation and a culture of health.