[Summary: an argument for the importance of involving civil society, and thinking broad when exploring the concept of high value data (with lots of links to past research and the like smuggled in)]

On 26th June this year the European Parliament and Council published an update to the Public Sector Information (PSI) directive, now recast as Directive 2019/1024 “on open data and the re-use of public sector information.  The new text makes a number of important changes, including bringing data held by publicly controlled companies in utility and transport sectors into the scope of the directive, extending coverage of research data, and seeking to limit the granting of exclusive private sector rights to data created during public tasks, and increase the transparency when such rights are granted.

However, one of the most significant changes of all is the inclusion of Article 14 on High Value Datasets which gives the Commission power to adopt an implementing act “laying down a list of specific high-value datasets” that member states will be obliged to publish under open licenses, and, in some cases, using certain APIs and standards. The implementing acts will have the power to set out those standards. This presents a major opportunity to shape the open data ecosystem of Europe for decades to come.

The EU Commission have already issued a tender for a consultant to support them in defining a ‘List of High-value Datasets to be made Available by the Member States under the PSI-Directive’, and work looks set to advance at pace, particularly as the window granted by the directive to the Commission to set out a list of high value datasets is time-limited.

A few weeks back, a number of open data researchers and campaigners had a quick call to discuss ways to make sure past research, and civil society voices, inform the work that goes forward. As part of that, I agreed to draft a short(ish) post exploring the concept of high value data, and looking at some of the issues that might need to be addressed in the coming months. I’d hoped to co-draft this with colleagues, but with summer holidays and travel having intervened, am instead posting a sole authored post, with an invite to others to add/dispute/critique etc. 

Notably, whilst it appears few (if any) open-data related civil society organisations are in a position to lead a response to the current EC tender, the civil society open data networks built over the last decade in Europe have a lot to offer in identifying, exploring and quantifying the potential social value of specific open datasets.

What counts as high value?

The Commission’s tender points towards a desire for a single list of datasets that can be said to exist in some form in each member state. The directive restricts the scope of this list to six domains: geospatial, earth observation and environment, meteorological, statistical, company and company ownership, and mobility-related datasets. It also appears to anticipate that data standards will only be prescribed for some kinds of data: highlighting a distinction between data that may be high value simply by virtue of publication, and data which is high-value by virtue of it’s interoperability between states.

In the new directive, the definition of ‘high value datasets’ is put as:

“documents the re-use of which is associated with important benefits for society, the environment and the economy, in particular because of their suitability for the creation of value-added services, applications and new, high-quality and decent jobs, and of the number of potential beneficiaries of the value-added services and applications based on those datasets;” (§2.10)

Although the ordering of society, environment and economy is welcome, there are subtle but important differences from the definition advanced in a 2014 paper from W3C and PwC for the European Commission which described a number of factors for determining whether there was high value to making a dataset open (and standardising it in some ways). It focussed attention on whether publication of a dataset:

  • Contributes to transparency
  • Helps governments meet legal obligations
  • Relates to a public task
  • Realises cost reductions; and
  • Has some value to a large audience, or substantial value to a smaller audience.

Although the recent tender talks of identifying “socio-economic” benefits of datasets, overall it adopts a strongly economic frame, seeking quantification of these and asking in particular for evaluation of “potential for AI applications of the identified datasets;”. (This particular framing of open data as a raw material input for AI is something I explored in the recent State of Open Data book, where the privacy chapter also picked up on a brief exploration how AI applications may also create new privacy risks for release of certain datasets.)  But to keep wider political and social uses of open data in view, and to recognise that quantification of benefits is not a simple process of adding up the revenue of firms that use that data, any comprehensive method to explore high value datasets will need to consider a range of issues, including that:

  • Value is produced in a range of different ways
  • Not all future value can be identified from looking at existing data use cases
  • Value may result from network effects
  • Realising value takes more than data
  • Value is a two-sided calculation; and
  • The distribution of value matters as well as the total amount

I dig into

Value is produced in different ways

A ‘raw material’ theory of change still pervades many discussions of open data, in spite of the growing evidence base about the many different ways that opening up access to data generates value. In ‘raw material’ theory, open data is an input, taken in by firms, processed, and output as part of new products and services. The value of the data can then be measured in the ‘value add’ captured from sales of the resulting product or service. Yet, this only captures a small part of the value that mandating certain datasets be made open can generate. Other mechanisms at play can include:

  • Risk reduction. Take, for example, beneficial ownership data. Quite asides from the revenue generated by ‘Know Your Customer (KYC)’ brokers who might build services off the back of public registers of beneficial ownership, consider the savings to government and firms from not being exposed to dodgy shell-companies, and the consumer surplus generated by supporting a clamp down on illicit financial flows into the housing market by supporting more effective cross-border anti-money laundering investigations. OpenOwnership are planning research later this year to dig more into how firms are using, or could use, beneficial ownership transparency data including to manage their exposure to risk. Any quantification needs to take into account not only value gained, but also value ‘not lost’ because a dataset is made open.
  • Internal efficiency and innovation. When data is made open, and particularly when standards are adopted, it often triggers a reconfiguration of data practices inside the data (c.f. Goëta & Davies), with the potential for this to support more efficient working, and enable innovation through collaboration between government, civil society and enterprise. For example, the open publication of contracting data, particularly with the adoption of common data standards, has enabled a number of governments to introduce new analytical tools, finding ways to get a better deal on the products and services they buy. Again, this value for money for the taxpayer may be missed by a simple ‘raw material’ theory.
  • Political and rights impacts. The 2014 W3C/PWC paper I cited earlier talks about identifying datasets with “some value to a large audience, or substantial value to a smaller audience.”. There may also be datasets that have low likelihood of causing impact, but high impact (at least for those affected) when they do. Take, for example, statistics on school admissions. When I first looked at use of open data back in 2009, I was struck by the case of an individual gaining confidence from the fact that statistics on school admission appeals were available (E7) when constructing an appeal case against a school’s refusal to admit their own child. The open availability of this data (not necessarily standardised or aggregated) had substantial value to empowering a citizen in securing their rights. Similarly, there are datasets that are important for communities to secure their rights (e.g. air quality data), or to take political action to either enforce existing policy (e.g. air quality limits), or to change policy (e.g. secure new air quality action zones). No only is such value difficult to quantify, but whether or not certain data generates value will vary between countries in accordance with local policies and political issues. The definition of EU-wide ‘high value datasets’ should not crowd out the possibility or process of defining data that is high-value in particular country. That said, there may at least be scope to look at datasets in the study categories that have substantial potential value in relation to EU social and environmental policy priorities.

Beyond the mechanisms above, there may also be datasets where we find a high intrinsic value in the transparency their publication brings, even without a clear evidence base that can quantifies their impact. In these cases, we might also talk of the normative value of openness, and consider which datasets deserve a place on the high-value list because we take the openness of this data to be foundational to the kind of societies we want to live in, just as we may take certain freedoms of speech and movement as foundational to the kind of Europe we want to see created.

Not all value can be found from prior examples

The tender cites projects like the Open Data Barometer (which I was involved in developing the methodology for) as potential inspirations for the design of approaches to assess “datasets that should belong to the list of high value datasets”. The primary place to look for that inspiration is not in the published stats, but in the underlying qualitative data which includes raw reports of cases of political, social and economic impact from open data. This data (available for a number of past editions of the Barometer) remains an under-explored source of potential impact cases that could be used to identify how data has been used in particular countries and settings. Equally, projects like the State of Open Data can be used to find inspiration on where data has been used to generate social value: the chapter on Transport is as case-in-point, looking at how comprehensive data on transport can support applications improving the mobility of people with specific needs.

However, many potential uses and impacts of open data are still to be realised, because the data they might work with has not heretofore been accessible. Looking only at existing cases of use and impact is likely to miss such cases. This is where dialogue with civil society becomes vitally important. Campaigners, analysts and advocates may have ideas for the projects that could exist if only particular data was available. In some cases, there will be a hint at what is possible from academic projects that have gained access to particular government datasets, or from pilot projects where limited data was temporarily shared – but in other cases, understanding potential value will require a more imaginative and forward-looking and consultative process. Given the upcoming study may set the list of high value datasets for decades to come – it’s important that the agenda is not be solely determined by prior publication precedent.

For some datasets, certain value comes from network effects

If one country provides an open register of corporate ownership, the value this has for anti-corruption purposes only goes so far. Corruption is a networked game, and without being able to following corporate chains across borders, the value of a single register may be limited. The value of corporate disclosures in one jurisdiction increase the more other jurisdictions provide such data. The general principle here, that certain data gains value through network effects, raises some important issues for the quantification of value, and will help point towards those datasets where standardisation is particularly important. Being able to show, for example, that the majority of the value of public transit data comes from domestic use (and so interoperability is less important), but the majority of value of, say, carbon emission or climate change mitigation financing data, comes from cross-border use, will be important to support prioritisation of datasets.

Value generation takes more than data

Another challenge of of the ‘raw material’ theory of change is that it often fails to consider (a) the underlying quality (not only format standardisation) of source data, and (b) the complementary policies and resources that enable use. For example, air quality data from low-quality or uncalibrated particulate sensors may be less valuable than data from calibrated and high quality sensors, particularly when national policy may set out criteria for the kinds of data that can be used in advancing claims for additional environmental protections in high-pollution areas. Understanding this interaction of ‘local data’ and the governance contexts where it is used is important in understanding how far, and under what conditions, one may extrapolate from value identified in one context, to potential value to be realised in another. This calls for methods that can go beyond naming datasets, to being able to describe features (not just formats) that are important for them to have. 

Within the Web Foundation hosted Open Data Research Network a few years back we spent considerable time refining a framework for thinking about all the aspects that go into securing impact (and value) from open data, and work by GovLab has also identified factors that have been important to the success of initiatives using open data. Beyond this, numerous dataset-specific frameworks for understanding what quality looks like may exist. Whilst recommending dataset-by-dataset measures to enhance the value realised from particular open datasets may be beyond the scope of the European Commission’s current study – when researching and extrapolating from past value generation in different contexts it is important to look at the other complementary factors that may have contributed that value realising alongside the simple availability of data.

Value is a two-sided calculation

It can be temping to quantify the value of a dataset simply by taking all the ‘positive’ value it might generate, and adding it up. But, a true quantification calculation also needs to consider potential negative impacts. In some cases, this could be positive economic value set against some social or ecological dis-benefit. For example, consider the release of some data that might increase use of carbon-intensive air and road transport. While this  could generate quantifiable revenue for haulage and airline firms, it might undermine efforts to tackle climate change, destroying long-term value. Or in other cases, there may be data that provides social benefit (e.g. through the release of consumer protection related data) but that disrupts an existing industry in ways that reduce private sector revenues. 

Recognising the power of data, involves recognising that power can be used in both positive and negative ways. A complete balance sheet needs to consider the plus and the minus. This is another key point where dialogue with civil society will be vital – and not only with open data advocates, but with those who can help consider the potential harms of certain data being more open. 

Distribution of value matters

Last but not least, when considering public investment in ‘high value’ datasets, it is important to consider who captures that value. I’ve already hinted at the fact that value might be captured as government surplus, consumer surplus or producer (private sector) surplus – but there are also relevant question to ask about which countries or industries may be best placed to capture value from cross-border interoperable datasets.

When we see data as infrastructure, then it can help us consider the potential to both provide infrastructure that is open to all and generative of innovation, but also to design policies that ensure those capturing value from the infrastructure are contributing to its maintenance.

In summary

Work on methodologies to identify high value datasets in Europe should not start from scratch, and stand to benefit substantially from engaging with open data communities across the region. There is a risk that a narrow conceptualisation and quantification of ‘high value’ will fail to capture the true value of openness, and to consider the contexts of data production and use. However, there is a wealth of research from the last decade (including some linked in this post, and cited in State of Open Data) to build upon, and I’m hopeful that whichever consultant or consortium takes on the EC’s commissioned study, they will take as broad a view as possible within the practical constraints of their project.

Original source – Tim Davies

We have bigger houses

But smaller families

More conveniences

But less time

We have more degrees

But less sense

More knowledge

But less judgment

More experts

But more problems

More medicines

But less healthiness

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back

But have trouble in crossing the street to meet our new neighbour

We built more computers to hold more copies than ever

But have less real communication

We have become long on quantity

But short on quality 

These are times of fast foods 

But slow digestion

Tall men

But short characters

Steep profits

But shallow relationships

It’s a time when there is much in the window

But nothing in the room

… The Paradox Of Our Time … often attributed to The Dalai Lama … but seemingly from Dr Bob Moorehead

Original source – In The Eye Of The Storm

The team in Buckinghamshire proudly showing off the new website.

Lots of people need extra support to do the everyday things that many of us take for granted. This is where adult social care services come in, empowering people of all ages with a range of needs to live independently.

We’ve been working with Buckinghamshire County Council to improve access to quality information and advice when it comes to social care for residents.

Together, we’re building a unique front door: one place to help residents and professionals navigate options and get the support they need. In a multidisciplinary team of FutureGovers and subject matter experts from the council, we’ve been researching, building and testing prototypes with input from residents and a wide range of professionals.

Adult social care is complex

Throughout our process of learning and designing, one thing has remained clear: adult social care is complicated and complex. Residents, practitioners and even council professionals are navigating complex needs in a complicated system.

Buckinghamshire County Council and its partners (such as health services or voluntary and community sector organisations) provide a range of services and guidance to support adults. With many providers or services, we’re left with many ‘front doors’ for these services. Scattered across multiple websites, the opportunities for support are messy for residents to navigate.

A lack of clear information and guidance means that people aren’t aware of how they can support themselves. People bounce around the system before reaching the right service when information and support could be at their fingertips!

We need to do more to help people understand support options, whether it’s from council services, local communities or charities.

People start looking for information at crisis point

Planning future care can feel intimidating and emotional. People often start thinking about care at a late stage or crisis point, looking for information and support as they go through a life-changing event; losing a loved one or receiving a diagnosis are examples of life events when someone might need support.

This is why we’ve been talking a lot lately about the importance of designing services with life events. The research we’ve done shows that navigating options based on life events is the most popular and useful option. When creating platforms to navigate services, we need to cluster them around life events to reflect people’s experience.

With this in mind, we’ve started by building a new website with the council that leads with navigating options by life events. When visitors come to the site, they’ll easily be able to see the types of situations that they can get help with.

Navigating adult services through ‘life events’

Providing the right content

Researching with residents, we’ve learned about the type of information, advice and guidance people need. Regardless of who provides a service, residents just want to know their support options, what they can get, how they can get it and any associated cost.

“People don’t care whether it’s the NHS or their local charity who is best placed to help them when they lose a loved one. They just need help here and now.” — Social worker

Through this, we’ve designed content structured around a typical life event containing:

  • an overview of support available for the life event (emotional, practical or financial support…)
  • signposting to council and partners info and services that are directly relevant to the life event
  • a map to explore services by area
  • tools to help people understand entitlements or costs
  • a point of contact for council services
  • personal stories from others who’ve experienced similar life events

Finding empathy through the stories of others

Telling personal stories are a powerful way to bring empathy into services. We found that reading about the experiences of others can be inspiring and helpful in guiding us to similar solutions. These relatable stories bring empathy and a humane approach to the information. When testing this approach with residents, they reported feeling inspired, recognising their own needs and wanting to find out how they could take the same steps.

“It’s a good way to talk about a difficult topic, sending, sharing a story to discuss things that are a bit taboo. (…) I would read it to my granddad to tell him ‘this might happen to you too!’” — Resident

Some people wanted to be able to share stories with others as a way to discuss tricky topics with relatives.

Residents even expressed a desire to connect with the people in the stories and meet others who’ve been through similar experiences. Including links to social media groups or community figures is a helpful way to get the community connected and supporting each other.

More user-centred public services

Many local authorities organise services in a way that makes sense to them and little sense to the people using them. We see this in the experience residents and other organisations have when trying to find the information they need online. When people can’t find what they need, they give up (and usually call the council).

Organising information by life events is a powerful way of designing content, helping people find the right information at the right time.

What we’ve achieved together with Buckinghamshire Council is just one example of the ways we can organise our services around the needs of citizens. Imagine what we could achieve and how outcomes could be improved if services and entire organisations were designed around life events (not just the online content)?

We recently launched LocalGov Patterns, a shared library of service patterns for local government, to identify and understand common service patterns. Please help us build this library by contributing the service patterns used in your local authority.

Designing an adult social care digital front door for Buckinghamshire was originally published in FutureGov on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – FutureGov


We all know, really, that social media was designed for food tweets and pictures of animals, right?

by Will Mapplebeck

The other day I took a picture of a horse on a station platform. This sounds ridiculous, and it was – here’s the tweet…

horse 2 .jpg

By the way, the horse didn’t use an escalator or have to negotiate contactless payment. This is a suburban above ground station on the Tyne and Wear Metro that I tend to pass through at least three times every week. Only this morning there was a horse on the platform and I took a picture as it seemed unusual.

Here’s some context. I’m a regular twitter user, but my stuff is pretty nerdy.  Mostly I’ll use it to talk about policy and politics. I tend to generate the Twitter equivalent of tumbleweed, liked by only a few dedicated and equally nerdy followers. However, policy and politics is what I do for a living and, luckily, it’s what I’m actually interested in. 

I’m not that interested in horses, in fact I’ve never even ridden one, but a tiny one – a Pony to use a technical term – standing at a light rail station in South Tyneside on a Monday morning seemed pretty strange to me.
So I tweeted it using the Twitter handle of @my_metro who run the customer service account for the light rail network. At first there was quiet, just a few likes from a couple of mates, but after half an hour my phone was buzzing regularly with notifications.

Twenty minutes after tweeting I got my first request from media to use the picture. No payment of course, but the promise of a credit. Being an ex-journalist with dreadful memories of generating content during Silly Season I said ‘yes’.

At this point I’ll mention that at no point did I expect to get paid, but I did ask for a credit and to stress that passengers were amused but called the control room to let them know the horse was loose.

And just while we’re on the subject of payment, does it not seem strange that I gave media organisations free content belonging to me that they then use to generate profit? How’s that for an abusive relationship? 

Whatever. It then went a bit crazy. Local radio, BBC Online, and the Press Association also got in touch via DMs and asked for permission to use the picture. At one point Russia Today – I kid you not – rang up the Metro press office, presumably seeing the pony as a symbol of inevitable Western decline.

All this media coverage just made the original tweet grow in popularity. I’d gone my equivalent of viral. People just kept liking and replying. I received dozens of jokes from strangers along the ideas of how the pony had ‘neigh idea’ where it and how it was ‘having a mare’.

And I apologised to the media relations lead at Metro, who I know professionally, for causing him so much work. I definitely owe him a drink.

But what did I learn about Twitter as a result of (almost) going viral? I learned that people like silly pictures of animals in unusual places – particularly on a rainy August Monday morning – and they also like a pun. 

And I learned that, ironically enough, it was interest from mainstream media, including radio, that drove the popularity of the tweet across the UK.

It received close to 100 likes, 25 retweets and 19 comments. In new money that works out at more than 8k impressions and over 1.3k engagements. Rock star stuff for me.

But what happened to the horse which should be the star of this story?

Well, it was caught and returned to the field from whence it came – presumably unaware of its short-lived social media celebrity status. Meanwhile, I’m back to Nerdville, tweeting about Beatles album covers and transport policy.

Farewell viral, it was fun while it lasted…

Will Mapplebeck is Strategic Communications and Public Affairs Manager at Core Cities UK. You can say hello on Twiiter at @wimapp 

You can find his excellent blog site here At least we get the burglar vote

Image via H.G. Wood

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

At dxw, we have a responsibility to make sure the people and organisations we work with understand the value of what we do and how we do things.

We do this by sharing our progress and learning in easily understandable and digestible week notes and blog posts, using clear language during sprint planning and stand-ups, and creating opportunities for everyone involved to ask questions so we can share knowledge and develop our ideas.

We work with people who are specialists in their own fields and their opinions are incredibly valuable to us. It’s the reason we want to involve our clients in every aspect of our work.

Be inclusive when working in a team

We recently worked with the Government Legal Department to iterate the journey a user takes to log in to gld.digital, a website offering legal guidance for civil servants and hosted on our secure GovPress platform. 

During our work together, we received some really positive feedback from the team at Government Legal, the language we used was really clear and our clients felt they understood what we were doing and how we were going to do it.

This got me thinking about the different ways we already are, and can be more, inclusive when working in a team.

Explain technology in the simplest way and go from there

dxw value ourselves for being curious, diverse and creative. We help each other to learn and improve and we’re sensitive to each others’ needs. The language we use should never, deliberately or otherwise, exclude people from being part of a team. Most of the time we do this naturally and it’s something I value a lot.

We build new products and iterate existing services that vary in complexity. Our clients and stakeholders make decisions about these services and we’re often in a position where we need to describe our approaches to others who don’t have the same technical understanding as us. 

Explaining concepts in a way that includes everyone builds the capability of our clients and enables them to make better decisions. We avoid using jargon or abbreviations, for example, to describe how we will implement a new feature or when talking about a piece of technology.  

The people we’re working with who aren’t used to hearing technical terms are, more often than not, specialists in their own field with a wealth of knowledge. They should be given the space to understand and question the complexities and dependencies involved in building a service.

Allow time to adapt to a new way of working

We should apply the same thinking to how we introduce people to our way of working. 

We understand the value of working in an agile way. Sprints ensure we: focus on what’s achievable in a specific time frame, set priorities and fair expectations about what can be done, and know what it looks like to have finished something. It helps us work at a good pace and work better together too.

For some people, the word sprint is entirely new, let alone working in an agile way. We should spend the time to allow others to get a better grasp of what is often an entirely new process, and to become the champions for our way of working.

Create an open environment

It’s important to explain from the start that everyone’s opinion matters and we should all feel empowered to lead in our field. 

We’ve all been in organisations where meeting discussions and decisions are steered towards the most senior person in the room. Different workplaces have different cultures, but at dxw we believe decisions should be made as a collective and openness is integral to ensuring this happens.

As facilitators, we have an opportunity to set the right tone and environment:

  • understand how people like to work and include an opportunity for everyone to join a conversation, in a way that suits them
  • create the space to ask questions, it’s time well spent
  • continuously ask ‘why?’ and recognise when something is an assumption, not a fact
  • create a shared understanding by repeating information back, even if you feel like you understand, sometimes others don’t and that’s okay
  • try to avoid forming opinions, it creates bias

Understand your own limitations

Although it can feel difficult sometimes, it’s important that we all feel able to expose ourselves to different ideas, recognise and understand our shortcomings and be inquisitive.

If we’re uncertain about what someone else is describing or working on, it is more than likely there is someone else thinking the same thing. It’s okay to ask for more detail, it’s honest and will help you and the team you’re in to build a better shared understanding.

Aim for a sense of community

Working openly and in a way that doesn’t exclude anyone means we get the best from the team. It creates a sense of community, where it’s okay to ask questions and get things wrong and there’s a shared understanding and commitment to the work. 

The post Creating an open and inclusive environment with our clients appeared first on dxw digital.

Original source – dxw digital

group of people writing on post-it notes, which are attached to a sheet of paper on a table

Service communities are networks of people from across the public sector who work together to design and deliver an end-to-end service, like start a business or get health benefits. Communities meet regularly to collaborate and share things like policy and legal issues, user research, the types of data they hold that relates to the service and the technology they use.

Anyone who works on a service can be a part of a community, whether they work in policy, delivery, operations or other areas. Anyone should also be able to set up their own community. There is guidance to help you do this in the Service Manual.

Here are the benefits that setting up a service community can bring.

Connect with others who work on your service

Setting up a community will enable you to get a full overview of who does what in the wider context of your service. This is helpful because it will let you understand where your work fits in and how it affects others.

It can also let you do things like reduce duplication, merge content on GOV.UK, or share research. Sharing research with other teams means you can learn from each other’s successes and failures or ask for help when you need it. 

Make your service better for users

When users interact with government, they want to do things like learn to drive or get benefits, which most often involve more than one part of the public sector. Since the ‘start a business’ community started in 2017, service communities have been trying to make it easier for people to complete these tasks. They do this by bringing together people who work on them and adopting a user-centred approach to collaboration.

For example, community members have improved the navigation on GOV.UK by publishing step-by-step guides to their services, like Set up a limited company. They have also reduced duplication in government by reusing resources from one another. Read more about what service communities have accomplished.

Shape the direction of your service

Running a service community makes it easier for you to influence the direction of your service. Having an awareness of what everybody in government is doing on a given end-to-end service makes it easier to spot opportunities for improvement. 

Most often, communities build this awareness by creating something called a service landscape. It’s a visual representation of what each bit of the public sector offers in a service and it’s a great way to understand where to focus your efforts. Read more about how to make a service landscape.

Work towards meeting the updated Service Standard

Point 2 of the updated Service Standard says services should solve a whole problem for users, while point 3 says they should provide a joined-up experience across all channels. Both these points aim to ensure that users can do the thing they need to do without having to understand the structure of government or a department’s internal processes.

Setting up a service community in your area can be a great way to start a conversation around this and increase your understanding of the whole problem you’re trying to solve.

Get started

Service communities can help you do all of these things and more. 

There are currently communities looking at services like starting a business or getting health benefits. They include people from more than 15 organisations, making services easier to use for users and less costly to provide for government. 

If you’d like to set up your own community, visit the Service Manual to find out how.

Original source – Government Digital Service

As I wander the corridors of various organisations, the biggest change over the last few years is the proliferation of post it notes.  The arrival of agile (I’ve skipped the obligatory quote marks) has meant, for all too many, an endless purgatory of discovery and occasional alpha, but more likely, just more discovery.  The incentive to ship, to put something live, seems to have gone away.  Not for everyone, of course, but for a disquietingly large proportion of the organisations I see.

I read that £1 spent on R&D has had an ever decreasing output over the last decade – that is, to get what you used to get for £1, you now need to spend £1.50 or £2 (making all of those comparisons of R&D spend over time rather pointless – the input is never as important as the output).

It feels the same in Public Sector software development.  We have lots more projects and lots more activity, but fewer teams shipping.  The money in is doubtless rising, the productive consequences, unless measured in post it notes, are falling.

I was intrigued, then, to read about Shape Up.  The world doesn’t need another methodology, and this isn’t one.  Instead, this is a guide to shipping.

Six week cycles, shape the work before giving it to the team, give that team full responsibility, look for the hard problems to solve first, and ship on time.

They’re candid that this is a way to help you avoid shipping late, not to avoid shipping the wrong thing – that’s a different process.

It looks good.

Original source – In The Eye Of The Storm

Clare Brown – interaction designer, BPDTS Ltd

The design community in and around Newcastle is bustling and ever-expanding; you can always be sure to find events tailored around UX, events that support women in the creative industries, as well as meetups about Front End Development, Content Design and graphics. As a naturally curious designer, I try to immerse myself within the community and get to as many events as possible.

Back in September 2018, I was working as a creative designer at local branding agency and had always had an interest in making design more accessible, whether that be for the web or in print. So when I heard about the DataJam North East event which was being held at the new and prestigious Newcastle Helix, I decided to go along and see what it was all about.

Bringing data and service design together

DataJam 2018 took place over 2 days and brought together people in data and service design to collaborate, look at issues affecting the North East region and see how they can improve public services.

The conference was refreshing to attend and hosted a variety of talks from both public and private companies, giving an insight into their latest projects and approaches to designing products and services for users.

In particular, sessions ran by Difrent and OrangeBus inspired me greatly and I came away that day realising I’d like to be part of a team working on these kinds of projects, collaborating to iterate and test with the public before putting the product out there.

The event was well attended by people across the industry, so it was useful to chat to people in various roles in different companies to get a feel for the kind of work they do.

I took a lot away from the event and had a bubbling feeling I’d like to make a shift in my career and make a jump into a more UX design role.

How could I do this? Well, I decided to throw myself into learning more about service design, accessibility, UX, UI and read as many blogs as I could on platforms like Medium, FutureGov, DWP Digital and reading digital content on government websites.

I also decided to attend another digital conference, this time in Edinburgh for the one day DIBI Fest 2018 event. The event consisted of talks from industry leaders, local companies and even included illustrators. Taking in everything I’d grasped from DIBI and DataJam gave me the confidence to start applying for UX roles.

Within a few months I was lucky enough to land the role of Associate Interaction Designer here at DWP Digital.

As someone who was feeling uninspired by her day job, DataJam gave me the confidence to flick the switch and make a change in my career. It’s great starting afresh as there’s so much to learn in my new role. I’m ready to jump into everything Interaction Design and can’t wait to see how I progress!

Get involved!

DataJam North East 2019 is happening on 16 and 17 September and I’m really looking forward to getting involved again. If you’re a data professional, service designer, user researcher, product owner or business analyst and are looking to be inspired, you can sign up for your tickets here.

Original source – DWP Digital

We’re proud to announce the launch of our new apprentice programme, providing real experience and enabling people to develop their careers at a 21st-century organisation.

Following on the heels of our internship programme, the new apprenticeship programme marks another big step forward for FutureGov. We’re excited to offer people the opportunity to kick-start a career at a 21st-century organisation, gaining new skills that are relevant to our organisation and our sector.

We’re not just helping develop the skills we need, but future-proofing the skills, culture and ways of working needed across our sector to continue building organisations of the future.

Leaders of the future

Our apprenticeship programme will help people take the first step on their journey to becoming future leaders and mentors in health and public services. By developing new talent under our wing, we can instil and nurture our culture and ways of working so up and coming talent understand our business, our sector and the need to build people and organisations that are models of the world we want to create.

Bringing enthusiastic individuals into real roles at FutureGov, we’re on a mission to ensure our apprentices will be of value to our organisation through consistent one-to-one mentoring and training as they progress through the scheme. The completion of our apprenticeship programme will guarantee they become well-trained and highly-skilled individuals, ready for a career within our sector.

“I’m thrilled we’re launching our new apprenticeship programme today. Our apprentices will receive dedicated mentoring and support to help them develop new skills, whilst helping us solve public service challenges through their work. I’m so pleased we’re able to offer these opportunities to work in such an exciting sector and I’m looking forward to learning a lot from the people in these roles.” — Matt Skinner, Managing Director

Calling all bid coordinators

We’re starting the apprenticeship programme by looking for aspiring bid coordinators who want to work in an experienced team, gaining practical knowledge and qualification to step into the world of bid management.

In this paid position, the successful applicant will participate in active bids, learning everything about the bids process from governance to end-to-end tender processes. Working alongside the Project Directors and the wider company, they’ll learn how the sales process and teams contribute to a project as a whole.

“The unusual thing about bid management is that most companies have the function, but there hasn’t been an obvious entry point until now. We’re looking for an enthusiastic, creative and organised person to come, train with us and take their first step into a varied and exciting career.” — Anna Inman, Client Director

You don’t need to have previous experience in bids and proposals to be eligible to apply. We think this role could be the perfect opportunity for creative, ambitious individuals to gain skills while learning and completing their apprenticeship in Bid and Proposal Coordination.

You can apply now for our bid coordinator apprenticeship on our website.

Launching our apprenticeships was originally published in FutureGov on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

Original source – FutureGov