Court Orders

Empowering tenants; Freeing the law; Tracking the layoffs; and much more.

Civic tech responds: has announced Emergency HP Action, a new tool empowering New York City tenants against landlords who are neglecting essential repairs or harassing tenants. Emergency HP Action allows tenants to sue landlords from any device that connects to the internet– saving a trip to Housing Court.

The Taiwanese and U.S. governments are hosting a pandemic hackathon May 5-12 to develop innovative solutions, including tracing techniques and technology, development of rapid tests, crisis communication, protection of high-risk groups, telehealth, etc. to overcome coronavirus-related challenges.

Here’s an absolutely stupendous compendium of Nonprofit Resources on COVID-19 curated by Beth Kanter and a slew of co-conspirators.

Say hello to Covid Story Project a platform launched by Memria for people to share their experiences during this crisis with each other and future generations. is tracking the increasing numbers of people losing their jobs at tech start-ups.

Attend: Tomorrow (Weds) at noon EDT: “#OpenCongress: How Congress Can Work Remotely During Emergencies,” a Civic Hall conversation hosted by me with Daniel Schuman of DemandProgress and Marci Harris of PopVox. RSVP required.

Attend: Wednesday April 29 at 6:30pm, Columbia University and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer are holding a virtual town hall on “Bridging the Digital Divide During COVID-19” with Clayton Banks of Silicon Harlem, Noel Hidalgo of BetaNYC, Nilsa Orama, Chair of Manhattan Community Board 11 and Desmond Patton of Columbia’s School of Social Work.

Tech and politics: Brendan Wiles, a Bernie Sanders campaign staffer, explains for Campaigns & Elections magazine how he helped build a “virtual field office” that did volunteer recruitment and voter contact completely online and by phone as COVID-19 hit.

Turns out New York is only going to mail registered voters absentee ballot request forms, not actual ballots. Civic Hall member David Moore has a complete rundown on how many states are approaching absentee voting on his news-site Sludge.

Huge congrats to longtime open government champion Carl Malamud, who challenged the state of Georgia after it accused him of copyright infringement for putting the entire state code online for free access. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in his favor, as Adam Liptak reports for The New York Times.

Deep thoughts: Harvard University’s Urs Gasser and colleagues map the ethical and legal boundaries of deploying digital tools for disease surveillance and control purposes in a new pre-publication release on

End times: The kids are (not) all right. Explanation here.

You are reading First Post, a twice-a-week digest of news and analysis of the world of civic tech, brought to you by Civic Hall, NYC’s community center for civic tech. If you are reading this because someone forwarded it to you, please become a subscriber ($10/m) and support our work or sign up for our newsletter and stay connected with the #CivicTech community.