Software Engineering in Civic Tech: A Case Study about Code for Ireland

by   Antti Knutas, et al.

Civic grassroots have proven their ability to create useful and scalable software that addresses pressing social needs. Although software engineering plays a fundamental role in the process of creating civic technology, academic literature that analyses the software development processes of civic tech grassroots is scarce. This paper aims to advance the understanding of how civic grassroots tackle the different activities in their software development processes. In this study, we followed the formation of two projects in a civic tech group (Code for Ireland) seeking to understand how their development processes evolved over time, and how the group carried out their work in creating new technology. Our preliminary findings show that such groups are capable of setting up systematic software engineering processes that address software specification, development, validation, and evolution. While they were able to deliver software according to self-specified quality standards, the group has challenges in requirements specification, stakeholder engagement, and reorienting from development to product delivery. Software engineering methods and tools can effectively support the future of civic technologies and potentially improve their management, quality, and durability.


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