Public Interest + Tech

What is the Public Interest Tech Lab at Harvard?

The Public Interest Tech Lab at Harvard makes technological infrastructures, gadgets, algorithms, know-how and supporting resources accessible to faculty and students to advance the public interest. Policy experts, disciplinary scholars and students can benefit from practical hands-on understanding of today’s technologies. Pragmatic experience with technologies deepens understanding and can help uncover hidden insights. The goal isn't to get a student or faculty member to play with a new, cool technology but to experience it in a setting where it deepens their understanding of possible futures in which these individuals will be developing policies that address current and future societal challenges.

The Tech Lab is a technology sandbox: tech companies ask, "What is the future of technology?" The Tech Lab asks, "What is the future of technology and society?"

Tech Lab Projects

CensusTracker

CensusTracker is an interactive map, which allows quick, accurate and highly interactive analysis on live census response rates. CensusTracker is designed to demonstrate demographic impacts on census response rates in each community and provide an easy to use tool for users of any background.

TraceFi

TraceFi is an innovative approach to contact tracing, aiming to use Wi-Fi data to enable effective, secure, and privacy-conscious contact tracing in a campus environment.

MyDataCan - Public Health Edition

MyDataCan is an apps platform designed to offer interoperable options and convenience for contact tracing and community health. This provides greater flexibility to individuals to use the apps that best fit their needs without compromising the coverage of the population for contact tracing.

How to get involved?

Faculty and Researchers

Are you working on creating a better solution to address a pressing problem in public interest technology? Have you identified an unexpected disparity that technology is deepening in society? Do you want to contribute your expertise to shape how technology can create a better future for all members of society?

Join the Tech Lab community to get the resources you need to accelerate the growth of your project. Connect with influential policy makers, journalists, advocacy leaders, funders, and more who are deeply interested in supporting your work in public interest technology and helping it shape the future of policy-making and technology development around the world.

Students

No matter what your interest is in public interest technology, we've got something for you.

If you're interested in learning more about how to solve problems with public interest tech, you can take a series of relevant hands-on classes with FAS and at the Harvard Kennedy School taught by the Faculty affiliated with the Tech Lab.

If you are working on a public interest tech project that started out in the classroom, the dorm room, or anywhere else, the Tech Lab can provide you with space, resources, and connections to relevant policy makers, funders, and others to help it grow and scale.

If you are looking for career opportunities in public interest tech over the summer or after graduation, the Tech Lab can connect you with advocacy groups, tech companies, policy makers, government agencies, and others who are looking for talented new hires to join their organization.

Partner organizations

Policy maker or community organizations

Are you looking for partners to help address a pressing public interest tech problem in your community? Join the Tech Lab community to connect with faculty, researchers, students, and other community organizations who are all interested in learning more how they can use their resources and expertise to address that problem. The Tech Lab can bring together the best minds from around the campus and even around the world to work together with your group on new technologies or policies that are focused on addressing the pressing needs of society.

Tech companies

Are you looking to improve the ways that your technologies impact society as a whole and our diverse communities? Join the Tech Lab community to begin the conversation with researchers, students, policy-makers, advocacy leaders, and others on how to incorporate the vision of public interest technology into your products and organization.

Who are we?

Latanya Sweeney profile image

Prof. Latanya Sweeney

Faculty Director of the Public Interest Tech Lab

As Professor of the Practice of Government and Technology at the Harvard Kennedy School and in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Government, my mission is create and use technology to assess and solve societal, political and governance problems, and to teach others how to do the same. The scientific study of technology's impact on humankind, is termed technology science and I am the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Technology Science.

Jinyan Zang profile image

Jinyan Zang

Research and Project Manager of the Public Interest Tech Lab

Jinyan Zang is a PhD Candidate in Government at Harvard University and a 2017 recipient of the Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans. He is the Managing Editor of the Journal of Technology Science. He is an experienced researcher on consumer protection, data and election security, and privacy issues as a Research Fellow at the Federal Trade Commission and a Research Analyst at Harvard University’s Data Privacy Lab and at the Institute for Quantitative Social Science. He graduated cum laude in 2013 from Harvard College with a B.A. in Economics.