Civic networks of community-based organizations face significant challenges in working together to combat issues facing their community (e.g., gang violence, sex trafficking). In our research, we examined how local organizations tried to build and maintain connectedness over time as a network to fight child sex trafficking. We sought to understand how technology supports the social processes of connectedness in this context. Based on our analysis of the field data from this case study, we identify three categories of activities for building and maintaining connectedness. We also find that while different technologies are suited towards supporting different aspects of connectedness, there may be gaps in how adequately social media tools support connectedness in civic networks.
The findings we present in this paper indicate that there is a critical need for low-cost, more group-centric technologies for maintaining connectedness between community-based organizations over an extended period of time. Our work offers a lens for better understanding a context of an informal civic network where such connectedness needs to be supported as a first step in designing such technologies. This lens can help guide how more group-centric ICTs can be leveraged to create connectedness in civic networks. In future work, we plan to explore design approaches to supporting the processes of awareness-raising in this community-based context.