Aspen Tech Policy Hub Fellows Release Interactive Digital Governance and Policy Projects

November 13, 2019

Fellows will present their projects in San Francisco on Wednesday, Nov. 13, as part of the Aspen Tech Policy Hub Demo Day – San Francisco event.

John Perrino

Jon Purves

San Francisco, CA, November 13, 2019 ­­– The Aspen Tech Policy Hub, a West Coast-based Aspen Institute policy incubator for distinguished entrepreneurs and engineers, announced the second round of projects from the organization’s inaugural class of distinguished fellows. The announcement follows the launch of six projects in October at the Aspen Institute’s D.C. headquarters.

The interactive projects cover a number of topics ranging from a statistical method to preserve election integrity, to measures that educate and protect older adults from online fraud. The projects range from a web application to operational plans, videos, websites and an explorable explanation.

November 2019 Aspen Tech Policy Hub Projects
Learn more at

DemDoc: Democratically Editable Policy Docs
By Sean Ahrens

DemDoc is an online collaborative document creation tool, like Google Docs, but with votes of co-authors used to decide whether an author’s edits are accepted or rejected. By allowing users to explain and vote on each suggested change, DemDoc embeds democratic values and equitable reputation into each sentence of the policymaking process.

Risk-Limiting Audits For Election Security
By Steven Buccini

The North Carolina Board of Elections finds itself at a juncture as it seeks to implement new voting systems. Current digital-only voting systems are irreparably insecure with the potential for interference at any stage of the voting process and will be decertified at the end of the year. To counter election interference, this project recommends the Board implement risk-limiting audits — a cost-effective method to comply with state-mandated auditing that efficiently reduces the probability of election interference.

Centralizing Older Users In Government Design
By Ginny Fahs, Steven Buccini, Anil Dewan and Ora Tanner

Adults over the age of 60 lost $650 million from online crime in 2018 and the U.S. has seen a 400% increase in internet crime for this age group over the past five years. This project recommends that the federal government redesign its scam reporting system to facilitate participation by older adults. Additionally, it recommends tasking the Federal Trade Commission and other enforcement bodies to explicitly consider the digital safety of older adults as they do with children’s online privacy and security.

Classified Threat Sensors for National Security
By Steve Weis, Aloni Cohen and Amina Asim

Foreign nation-state cyberattacks against U.S.-based companies create a national security risk and the potential loss of intellectual property. Yet the public and private sectors struggle to form data-sharing practices that could mitigate these risks because of the sensitive nature of the data. This project recommends a pilot program that uses threat sensors that scan a company’s local security data for signs of cyberattack without revealing the company’s proprietary data, or the information that the sensors were searching for. 

Modern Data Systems for Responsible Pretrial Risk Assessment
By Anil Dewan, Karissa McKelvey and Allison Day

California counties have limited technical resources for improving pretrial data systems, yet they increasingly rely on algorithmic risk assessment tools to inform pretrial release decisions. At stake is the liberty of individuals not yet convicted of crimes, and the reduction of the massive pretrial jail population, a driver of mass incarceration.

Algorithmic risk assessment tools can speed pretrial release decisions, but to be used responsibly, they should be accompanied by consistent data collection, access, and analysis practices. This project recommends that the Judicial Council of California invest in pretrial data needs by creating customizable tools for use across under-resourced counties, leading to more accurate, speedy, transparent and just risk assessment.

Public Interest Research Alliance (PIRA)
By Brandie Nonnecke

Social media platforms hold vast amounts of data that would be very valuable for public interest research and human rights investigations. However, these platforms are increasingly limiting access to data as a result of data security and privacy concerns. The Public Interest Research Alliance (PIRA) is a proposed multistakeholder, non-binding coalition dedicated to establishing shared principles and operational guides for public interest research data access, sharing, ownership, security, and privacy standards.

Test-Driven Development for Technology Policy
By Neal Parikh, Ginny Fahs and Brandie Nonnecke

Technology policy frequently does not work as intended. Software development was also once an ad-hoc and error-prone process until robust methods were developed for testing code. This project recommends applying a similar framework, test-driven development (TDD), to the policymaking process to develop policies that more effectively address issues of concern.

The Aspen Institute is a global organization committed to realizing a free, just and equitable society. For 70 years, the Institute has driven change through dialogue, leadership, and action to help solve the most critical challenges facing communities at home and around the world. Headquartered in Washington, DC, the Institute has offices in Aspen, Colorado and New York City, and an international network of partners.

The Aspen Tech Policy Hub is a West Coast policy incubator, training a new generation of tech policy entrepreneurs. We take tech experts, teach them the policy process through an in-residence fellowship program in the Bay Area, and encourage them to develop outside-the-box solutions to society’s problems. We model ourselves after tech incubators like Y-Combinator, but train new policy thinkers and focus the impact of their ideas. For more information, please visit


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