Special to Silicon Hills News

Chelsea Collier, courtesy photo.

Chelsea Collier, courtesy photo.

It used to be that the phrase “tech policy” would send people running for more interesting conversation. But today, public policy and regulations are the hot topic at every meet-up, coffee gathering and cocktail party at SXSW and beyond. In fact, the intersection of tech and policy has never been more visible and it’s encouraging to see Mayor Steve Adler and Austin’s tech leaders all leaning in to create innovative policy solutions.

This kind of collaborative momentum is exactly what we need and know is possible in a city like ours.

During SXSW Interactive, Mayor Adler shared his vision for how Austin can “bridge the gap” between regulations and tech-based consumer choices. In panel after panel, festival goers heard it loud and clear that everyone – government and tech sector companies – will need to work together to craft policies that are workable for today’s tech offerings and today’s tech consumer.

We are hopeful that the Mayor’s commitment to work with the tech community will resonate throughout Austin’s city government. There is no better place than Austin to see a successful partnership between tech and city leaders. We CAN do it differently here.

Embarking on “something different” to tackle our city’s challenges will take some creative thinking from all of us. As Statesman reporter Alberta Phillips observed, “Moving beyond that impasse requires both – government and private companies – to come up with a new set of regulatory measures that advances the goals of both.”

An entrepreneurial approach to civic engagement can further cement Austin’s “tech-friendly reputation” at a time when it seems everyone is paying attention. From President Obama to dozens of mayors looking to emulate our success, all eyes are on Austin and for good reason. This is our chance to show the nation what “doing something different” looks like and how we’ll all be better for the change.

Bio: As Principal of Intercambio, Chelsea guides the direction and intention of the company. Her primary focus is to bring the best people together to do good work. From 2012-2015, Chelsea was the Executive Director Texans for Economic Progress (TEP) and now engages as a Strategic Advisor where she continues to facilitate dialogue between the statewide technology community and elected officials, advocating for greater access to tech education, entrepreneurship and infrastructure. She is also Co-Founder of three startups: Wake Up, a professional and personal development workshop series, Impact Hub Austin, a local effort within a global network to provide co-working and incubation for social and civic enterprises, Mable, a social enterprise that produces modular furniture from sustainable materials manufactured in the USA.