Open data is big. Governments around the world are unlocking and providing access to data sets that allow citizens and business to create new, novel and valuable opportunities. Hackathon events are a vehicle for engaging “citizen-talent,” hobby hackers and others to engage with government data.
In Australia, GovHack, is the marquee hackathon event engaging with government data. Local, State and Federal authorities all participate annually, challenging teams of citizen hackers to find uses for published data sets.
GovHack is a highly successful volunteer run hackathon that joins government departments with citizen hackers to build digital services in two days. The Victorian Government is a key sponsor in these events.
Digital Engagement in the Victorian Department of Premier & Cabinet is a great supporter of Open Data and increased engagement by departments with citizens and businesses through their data sets. In 2016, the Digital Engagement wished to start a deeper conversation with the departments about the “real” issues and problems that arise in their day-to-day work.
How might we realise value that is “trapped” in government data? Put away the data and ask better questions about value?
We were engaged to stimulate and facilitate these conversations using our design integrated approach. We designed a new value production ecosystem for DPC that included the government stakeholders, the problem spaces they wished explored, the internal judging criteria and an evaluation process. This framework allowed our clients to assess the effect and success of their investment in GovHack.
Our made-to-measure process asked some key questions and explored these with representatives from the participating departments driving conversations about the competing interests of the various users in their ecosystems.
- What are the problems we face? How do these problems map into fields of issues – into a problem space?
- What are the “goldilocks” questions that we can ask that are not too big for intervention or too narrow for creative solution?
- What do our hackers need to know?
- What resources can they access?
- Who can answer their questions?
This is what a design-integrated approach to a hackathon design feels like. We ran two intensive half day workshop sessions to strip away the business-as-usual focus and get Victorian Government staff thinking strategically about the themes that ran through their current issues. They worked hard to create open questions for the citizen talent to engage with, and created information packs that invited hackers to engage with real issues.
Our clients used the framework to make decisions about the most promising hacks and how to integrate them into the Departments who co-sponsored the event.