Open Government Toolkit

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 civic involvement in public policy.

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

Guerrilla 

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

We experimented with a number of features to see how users could most effectively scale their knowledge of open data and how to work with it. Harnessing the natural power of those with passion for public policy and empowering them to do more by educating them was the ultimate goal. Empower, test and measure. We measured things like participation in forums, total number of content published by user and datasets downloaded. This helped us get an idea of what categories matted most to people as well, so we could target those users and focus on the problems they had to improve the user experience. Working remotely is a completely different conversation, but the tools today allow us to reach across the globe and get right in front of the people we are trying to serve.

  Exploring the initial concept of a curated playlist for “Opening government data” quick reference guide. 

Exploring the initial concept of a curated playlist for “Opening government data” quick reference guide. 

Curate Your Learning

Users can access and create quick reference guides for relevant data sciences, government or open data policy issues. This enabled users to tie issues and data together in one place for easy learning experience.

  A user "feed" contained "Case Studies" as posts, for users to share proposals for feedback and review of data.

A user "feed" contained "Case Studies" as posts, for users to share proposals for feedback and review of data.

Learn by Doing

A live-stream of structured policy templates acts as a repository to tell stories of policy problems solved and how they did it so others can replicate it.

  Question and answer enabled users to up/down vote questions to provide better answers from across domains.

Question and answer enabled users to up/down vote questions to provide better answers from across domains.

Exchange Ideas

Our forums encourage crowdsourcing between public servants and citizens with different expertise and technology proficiency to participate in shaping public policy. 

 

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