The Challenge

In June 2012, a global consensus was reached that to achieve the United Nations sustainable development goals we need institutions at all levels to be effective, transparent, accountable and democratic. E-government holds tremendous potential to improve the way governments deliver and enhance broad stakeholder involvement in public services.

Now, open data policies are being mandated by governments and open data is increasingly expected by the public and NGOs. In other words, government employees are being asked to publish and utilize large amounts of data. The catch is they often don’t know how to do this, why it would help them, or what to do with it after they’re done.

Our challenge was to develop a user-centered online resource to teach what open data is, why it will help and how it can be used.

The Process


We had a broad user base that needed to be hit hard and fast, able to retreat early enough to do our graduate research throughout the week. We also had hard deadlines for the policy grant requirements and needed to focus on defining our user needs before building our MVP. During the academic year we would formulate our research and leverage social media to collect survey data, while spending the summer traveling from Rio de Janeiro, Mumbai and NYC conducting interviews, attending hackathons and spending heavily caffeinated evenings paper prototyping in Starbucks with our users.

The Vision

Our vision was for governments of all sizes to have the ability to make efficient, data-driven decisions and share solutions with each other across all sectors of society.

It would be a web-based platform for sharing information and developing solutions utilizing open data for public policies.

I lead the team through storyboarding as we wrote the script together, laying the foundation for the video. Later, I animated this introduction to OpenGTK for the judges of the final round of the policy grant competition in Adobe After Affects.


Synthesizing Research and Developing a Design Strategy

Wayfinder integration - “Opening government data” quick reference guide.

Wayfinder integration - “Opening government data” quick reference guide.

Curate Your Learning

Users can access quick reference guides for tutorials and walkthroughs to relevant data sciences, open government or open data policy issues.

Sample Case Study - “National renewable energy laboratory API program”

Sample Case Study - “National renewable energy laboratory API program”

Learn by Doing

A best-practices repository facilitated through a structured template to help users tell their stories of policy problems solved using data analytics and how they did it so others can replicate it.

Question and answer forum post - Users can up/down vote questions to provide better answers

Question and answer forum post - Users can up/down vote questions to provide better answers

Exchange Ideas

Our forums encourage interaction between public servants and citizens with different expertise and technology proficiency—moderated by experts in their respective fields from government to private sectors around the world.


Usability Testing

You can also play with the first clickable prototype on InVision: 


We made it to the final round and got funded! 

Based on what we believe - data is not a digital strategy, but a people strategy. We propose the creation of an ecosystem as an organizational framework for discussions about open government. We understand that the flow of data from and for government could result in a virtuous cycle to promote innovation in society.
— OpenGTK