If you’ve ever been frustrated with the DMV or the IRS, imagine that what’s at stake isn’t your new license plates but the custody of your child, your ability to feed your family, or your own possible incarceration. Poor service design can have devastating consequences for vulnerable people in our country, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Jennifer Pahlka explains why intentionally designing government interfaces, especially for low-income people, not only improves social outcomes but costs taxpayers dramatically less. Designing for users isn’t just how to make great technology; it’s how to govern.
Jennifer Pahlka is the founder and executive director of Code for America, a national nonprofit that believes that government can work for the people, by the people, if we all help. Jennifer recently served as the US deputy chief technology officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where she architected and helped start the United States Digital Service. She is known for her TED talk, “Coding a Better Government,” and has been the recipient of several awards, including MIT’s Kevin Lynch Award, the Oxford Internet Institute’s Internet and Society Award, and the National Democratic Institute’s Democracy Award. Jennifer spent eight years at CMP Media, where she ran the Game Developers Conference, Game Developer magazine, Gamasutra.com, and the Independent Games Festival. Previously, she ran the Web 2.0 and Gov 2.0 events for TechWeb, in conjunction with O’Reilly Media. Jennifer is a graduate of Yale University. She lives in Oakland, CA, with her daughter, husband, and six chickens.
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