Lessons from designing mobile digital public services

Designing a mobile application that lets mental health service users register their mood and activity daily proved a long and challenging road. Adil Abrar shares five important lessons

Five lessons from the experience of designing the “Buddy” app are:

  1. Find the right part of the health system to work with; 
  2. Focus on creating a minimum viable product; 
  3. Embrace ‘agile’ development fully to get the most out of bringing designers, developers and strategist to create the solution; 
  4. Even when designing apps for health consumers, remember that managers and clinicians are also the customer as well; and 
  5. Don’t trip over Internet Explorer 6 when demonstrating to public sector stakeholders!

Also see this nice prezi presentation about the project and lessons learnt.

GovCampNSW on 19th November, 2011 in Sydney

Open government; resilient state: Innovating for government in NSW

If you work for government – or with government – whether federal, state or local, this one-day forum is for you.
GovCamp for you

This GovCamp “unconference” is simply a space to open up the public sphere conversation – to create a comfortable place where new thinking becomes possible and enables new outcomes.  There are no long presentations and the topics are yours – you get to create the agenda.

So this GovCamp is about how government works, as well as how it works for citizens.  It’s about the pressures of needing to do better government with less; about meeting growing public needs and expectations within an increasingly transparent and stretched public space.

It’s also about leverage points for innovation in NSW, such as connective technologies and open data.  We hope to hear some big-picture policy ideas and some pragmatic new-ways-of-working.

GovCampNSW is about the power of ideas and conversation. It aspires to build upon the gov-tech / 2.0 focus and look beyond to shaping innovation in government in NSW.

Discussion will include:

  • Cultural change leading to open government.
  • Social technologies and service delivery.
  • Policy 2.0: Why do apps have all the fun? 

For more info on the program and format OR to suggest topics you’d be interested in discussing on the day, please visit the GovCampNSW website at www.govcampnsw.info.

GovCamp is for people like you

Public sector practitioners, advisers and leaders who are excited by these challenges, who seek to better understand the risks and opportunities within emerging trends. 

There are no clever corporate games; just dialogue and an open exchange of ideas.  It’s a Saturday. It’s free time, casual and as “off-the-record” as you need.  And because it’s shared conversation, you’ll take away even more than you contribute.



For my part, a recurring Gov 2.0 theme for me is social innovation and the role of the non-profit sector in service delivery. So I hope to see a good mix of government people, agitators for change (like me), engaged citizens and also the non-profit sector at this first GovCamp for NSW.

BTW I’ll be helping out, co-facilitating the conversation cafe and maybe a presentation.

What Do Citizens Want (in pictures)

Naturally, you can find the actual slides on Slideshare for my 20 minute #govcampau presentation.

Some narrative for the photos:

I started off with the question, are we asking the right questions about Government 2.0?

So often the focus is on the needs of public servants (culture, access to tools, skills and knowledge, etc) or the technology (“Should my department be on Twitter?”). But I thought its time to consider the bigger picture and actually look at what citizens want and need. To do this I turned the tables on the audiance and ran a short user-centred design based brainstorm around the Government 2.0 needs of three (fictious) “personas”.

Unfortunately I wasn’t in a position to talk about the details of current projects I’m involved with, so I finished by looking at three examples that I felt reflected some of the ideas behind my presentation:

There was a bunch of questions and discussion that isn’t covered here, so look out for the video recordings from the day.

Photos by my able assistant, Miss 10.

The Shift from eGov to WeGov

Global mechanisms like the OGP encourage multi-stakeholder engagement. International actors like the World Bank can catalogue these partnerships, connect practitioners to each other, and aggregate demand from government and civil society partners. It’s about brokering knowledge, learning, and innovation between governments and other stakeholders. Finance becomes instrumental to lubricate the path of knowledge exchange. While this is not a traditional role for development Banks, helping governments partner with citizens to solve pressing social and economic problems may be the most important role they can play going forward. 

Hat tip to ITdnrab.

Government 2.0: Less policy, more social innovation

should we just give up and consider open government and government 2.0 an interesting, nice-to-have, but hard-to-sustain development, and perhaps let it die?

Not at all, but we need to change its perspective, make it less about policy-making and more about involving people in helping where government cannot.

Some of us have been banging on about this point since the beginning. If the analysts are saying it too, maybe the tide is turning? Coincidentally, I’ll be talking about this next week, at the IPAA NSW State Conference.

Co-production: embrace or be left behind?

The agility, speed of response, and scalability of some of the recent examples of ICT-enabled co-production in public emergencies is an important trend. It raises many questions and issues for public policy, but the ICT-enabled co-production “genie” is out of the bottle. Agencies now need to nurture and embrace co-production by design, or risk either failing to harness this new resource or being left behind like old-style monopolists in an increasingly dynamic and competitive public services market.

Well, this is what I’ve been trying to tell you

And its not just government. Social Business is about co-production.

Hat tip to Craig.