On Friday 3 March, Code for Australia joined forces with the Public Sector Innovation Fund and Special Minister of State, Gavin Jennings, to announce a brand new round of the Code for Victoria challenge. This time, we have our hearts set on supporting women in technology.
Fifty years ago, nearly half of the U.S. programmer workforce were women. Today, only 18 percent of computer science graduates have two X chromosomes. To create an effective solution, action against gender inequity in tech has to stem from multiple levels, starting with teaching more girls to code and offering scholarships to female programmers.
As Code For Victoria draws to a close, we farewell some of the incredible Fellows we’ve worked with over the past few months.
Through frustrations and achievements, our cohort of Fellows have been relentless. They’ve created beautiful work, new friendships and allies, and have paved the way for future generations of #CivicTech crusaders.
In one last request for generosity, we asked what advice they’d give to anyone thinking about joining us for a Fellowship, or working in the greater CivicTech space.
1. Show, Don’t Tell
Collaboration and working as a team has been key — be open to learn new things from your teammates as well as the other way around. You’re most likely put in a completely new context + culture → embrace it, learn from it, and be your government partner’s critical friend by showing (not telling) how things can be done differently.
Rikke Winther-Sørensen, Design Engineer, 2016 Fellow
2. Get Creative
You will learn about variety of issues between the general public and the government. Then, thinking about the possible solutions, you’ll need to spark your creativity to make new ways forward or considerably improve the old solution. On the other hand, you’ll also need to know things go very slow in government. Be well prepared for that and build connections with the right people to support you when necessary.
Kasra Majbouri, Front-end and Backend Developer, 2016 Fellow
3. Talk To Your Users
Start by deeply defining the problem — government partners likely will have lots of ideas that they are super excited about, but often the user is overlooked. Figure out who the end user is, talk to them, look at all the data your department has on the matter and define a baseline that you can measure success against before you start building.
Becca Blazak, Product Manager, 2016 Fellow
4. Use Your Networks
Make sure to use every possible avenue to get around bureaucratic red tape. You have a huge network of professionals to bypass ‘blockers’.
Arnham Markac, UI / UX Digital Designer, 2016 Fellow
5. Break Things Down, Then Build Them Up
Be prepared to open your mind to new technologies and to break down traditional IT silos. You should be prepared to build better relations between IT teams and organisations.
Christian Arevalo, Software Engineer, 2016 Fellow
6. Always Have A Backup Plan
Show what’s possible, prototype and iterate. You will learn from your users and will have to educate your stakeholders, particularly with concepts they’re not familiar with. Lastly, make sure you have a backup plan because… Murphy’s Law.
Johan Codinha, Full Stack Developer, 2016 Fellow
7. Be Clear
My advice for new fellows will be to be clear all the time about the project, not only with the client but also amongst the group. Most importantly, be clear and open with their team about what their expectations are about the experience (especially how they will work, set some rules, etc) and what they really expect to achieve. Finally, try to enjoy the different stages of the project, as well as learn as much as you can!
Diana Ramirez, Front-end Designer and Developer, 2016 Fellow
8. Follow Through
Be patient in dealing with people and persevere in achieving the goal that your team agreed on, every step of the way.
Elmer Ibayan, Developer, 2016 Fellow
9. Have Empathy
Most problems will be people problems not tech problems. Throwing tech at it often makes it worse. Be an active listener, talk to everyone, be humble, be naive, ask stupid questions. Most of what government does is service, so you should approach it as human centred service design.
Ken Mok, UX / Service Designer, 2016 Fellow
10. Don’t Forget What Brought You Here
Never forget that we are dreamers who want to do things, thinking of the common good. As we strongly believe that we are not the only ones, work together with passion and enthusiasm to help make ours and others’ dreams come true.
Recuerda siempre que somos soñadores y que uno de nuestros más ambiciosos sueños es hacer las cosas pensando en el bien común de todos. Y estamos seguros que no somos los únicos, por eso trabajamos juntos con dedicación, voluntad y entusiasmo para ayudar que nuestros sueños y el de los demás se hagan realidad.”
Veronica Farias, DevOps & UX Designer, 2016 Fellow
11. Wait For That MVP Moment
1. Engaging content makes production & consumption more enjoyable.
2. Internal motivation is incredibly important. I don’t know how to capitalise on that broadly speaking without quoting Dead Poets Society.
3. The MVP payoff in about the first month is priceless.
4. It’s just like a 6 month hackathon only for realzie.
Benjamin Minerds, Polygot Developer (PuZZleDucK), 2016 Fellow
Code for Victoria is underway
Two weeks ago nine new Fellows join us as part of the team to take on the Code for Victoria Challenge. See their amazing profiles here.
After a week of induction training, Fellows were split into three teams to take on the three challenges chosen from 39 applications.
The Victorian Special Minister of State, Gavin Jennings, chose the follow projects:
- Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Parks Victoria (DELWP): Improving the collection and availability of biodiversity data.
- Department of Treasury and Finance (DTF): Building a transparent and accessible system to better collect, analyse and display Victorian government infrastructure tender and contract activities.
- Victoria Legal Aid (VLA): Streamlining referral services to connect Victorians to the legal support they need.
The teams now have six months to research and understand the departments and their challenges, and to come up with new ways of thinking and technology to solve them.
A few months ago we discovered that our friends at Outware Mobile had a podcast, and asked if we could run a series of pods on what Citizenship in the Mobile Age actually means.
To make the podcast interesting we decided to interview someone from local, state and federal government. Together with Outware's experience, government representatives and us, we thought we could make something worth listening to.
In the first pod we discussed what is the role of government in creating digital services for the community? How can the community itself bring ideas and specialist expertise to the conversation and co-create value that benefits everyone. And, what does ‘Government as a Platform’ mean?
- Michael Dalic (Consultant, Outware Mobile)
- Jithma Beneragama (Director – Digital Engagement, Victorian Government)
- Dan Groch (Board of Advisors and Co-Founder, Code for Australia)
- Lucia Vuong (Marketing Manager, Outware Mobile)
You can listen to the podcast here, or download OM podcast from wherever you get your podcasts.
On the second pod we talked about how Government has changed its approach to digital in response to the rise of mobile. What are some of the differences between how people access government services on desktop versus mobile? What are some of the challenges that this has presented and what are some of the opportunities for this space?
- Lucia Vuong (Marketing Manager, Outware Mobile)
- Alvaro Maz (Managing Director and Co-Founder, Code for Australia)
- Tam Shepherd (Chief Digital Officer, Department of Human Services, Commonwealth Government)
- Jon Cumming (Chief Digital Officer, ACT Government)
You can listen to the podcast here, or download OM podcast from wherever you get your podcasts.
ABOUT THE OMPODCAST
The OMPodcast is Outware’s podcast about all aspects of the mobile industry. They discuss everything from business, strategy, design, UX, iOS and Android development and testing.
The Victorian government has completed its first ever ‘Budget Hack’, an event to make budget more community-friendly and easy to understand.
The hackathon, run over two nights, saw staff from the state’s Department of Premier and Cabinet join members of the technology community to build ideas to encourage transparency of government data.
The winning team was ‘Bling My Suburb’, which created a way for the community to view government budgets by location through a map interface. The team won $700 from National Australia Bank.
Addressing the question of ‘what’s in it for me?’, the map interface’s purpose is to allow anyone to view how much is spent on them based on expenditure in their area. Users can also compare revenue against spending, view funding sources, sort by project, category, etc.
On Saturday 13 February 2016, we packed into the ACMI cube with a group of willing, keen and excited participants from a wide range of backgrounds, ready to help tackle some of the common problems we have all experienced with government websites. For this session we wanted to focus on kickstarting the redesign of the Neighbourhood Justice Centre's website to be citizen focused, from the ground up.
At Code for Australia we are continually investing in capability building for our Fellows. Continuous learning means that the “raw material pile” of our Fellows brain is freshly stocked, which enables them to come up with better ideas and civic innovations — which the public sector desperately need. New ideas and solutions are consistently needed when the Fellows are presented with plethora of issues on a day to day basis liaising with their government partners. To do this, we connect leaders within the industry and from technology providers to train our Fellows throughout the course of the Fellowship program.
By upskilling our Fellows in industry leading technology, the direct result is using better technology to deliver government services more efficiently. This week, we are lucky to gain access to CartoDB internal technologists Santiago Giraldo to train our Fellows with the skills needed to understand the platform and learn the capability of what it can achieve.
CartoDB is a web app (no installation necessary) that lets you easily put your data on a nice-looking map and share it publicly. We love CartoDB because they always seem to be on the hunt for new ways to support efforts that re-think how data, mapping, and programming impact civic engagement.
We have opened the online CartoDB training workshop this Thursday at 9am to you. Join our Fellows and Santiago to receive the full rundown on how to best utilise CartoDB. There are limited spots, so contact us for the invitation and Google Hangout link.
Not that long ago, Code for Australia was just an idea. We had the notion that the same talent, passion, and skills that have connected us and made our lives easier through web and mobile technologies could also reconnect us to the institution designed to benefit us all: government. And in reconnecting with us, we could help government gain some of the efficiencies the Internet has brought to other sectors in the past decade. To do that, we called on industry and community to stand up and pick up an old model of citizenship that had been lost long time ago; where we try ideas and re-design the issues that affect us all. We also called on those public servants that have been flexing government's muscles for quite some time. We have been delighted so many heeded the call.
In December 2015, Code for Australia transitioned from an idea to a grand experiment that produced remarkable outcomes. We partnered with local and state government in Victoria and NSW. The fellows who worked with them are truly leaders in a movement that is just starting. Those who participated in our Civic Lab redefined what citizenship and democracy looks like in the 21st century; where citizens not only lend their voices, but their hands, and in collaboration with public servants, make our cities more just and our democracy stronger.
This community we're building and have been part of, leveraged technology to do great things off course, but we did much more than that. We showed what’s possible, changed perceptions, broke down barriers and created a new way of working together.
This grand experiment is just starting. We want to thank you for helping us, joining us and believing in us.
On Wednesday night Code for Australia Fellow, Ezekiel Kigbo, presented a speech on prototyping at the Digital Designer's Toolbox meet-up — hosted in Melbourne at Common Code. Kigbo provided some interesting insights into his method of prototyping; providing some useful prototyping tips and info on digital design tools.
Government departments across the nation are in need of critical and creative thinkers who are passionate about community well-being projects, to help them solve social issues. Code for Australia offers citizens the Fellowship program, an opportunity for people work with government, to apply their critical and creative skills towards the betterment of society.
I got a chance to meet up with one of our friendly Fellows this morning, Ezekiel Kigbo, to discuss how he became a Fellow, and his experience working in the exciting and innovative Fellowship program. Kigbo provided us with some very interesting insights into what to expect as a Fellow for the Fellowship program.
We are stoked that Australia has just become a signatory to the Open Government Partnership (OGP).
OGP is a voluntary multilateral initiative that is dedicated to promoting: transparency within government, empowering citizens to implement change for the betterment of society, and harnessing technology to improve and strengthen governance. In November 2015, the Australian Government committed to finalising their membership in the OGP. The membership was undertaken in an effort to launch a platform for the public, civil society, and private sector to participate in developing an Australian Government National Action Plan (NAP) for an open government.
The lead Commonwealth agency for developing the Australian Government NAP, the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) will be coordinating and collaborating with other agencies across the Australian Public Service to develop the NAP. They will be working together to hold these public forums for consultation and discussions.
Between the 14-18 December, a series of OGP information sessions will be held in: Adelaide, Sydney, Melbourne, and Canberra.
If you are interested in learning more about the OGP and attending these sessions, you can register here. We’ll be at the Melbourne session.
For more information on the OGP, check out: http://www.opengovpartnership.org/