Link Festival - Civic Lab - Identify problems, brainstorm and learn how to put ideas into action

As a fringe event to the Link Festival, we hosted a civic lab that demonstrated our process for identifying problems and turning them into effective action. The activity consisted of splitting up into 2 teams to gain some insight into the problem solving process that we would undertake with a government department over a 6-8 month period.

What is this process over this timeframe? Simply speaking - we ask a government department to let us know of their pain points, brainstorm solutions that have a direct benefit to both the department and the citizens they are serving, finally developing the strategy to build that solution and gain traction.

The two pain-point scenarios that we used were:

  • A city council having trouble communicating planning information to the public
  • A state government struggling to determine effective spending and priorities on public transport infrastructure

One of the major issues that teams faced was that although the ideas that were brainstormed seemed valid and perfectly reasonable to implement, when it came time to discuss how these solutions would be widely adopted by both the public and the government department, seemed to be where the major hurdles began.

This reflects accurately some of the issues that we have been working through at Code for Australia in the months just passed to which we have now learned a great deal and have an effective formula for implementing small yet meaningful changes for citizens and government.

The evening concluded with a presentation from Peter (Code for America Fellow) with some of the success stories from the US in relation to similar issues that we are facing here and how they managed to overcome these challenges.

Thanks to all that attended. We had some excellent debate and discussion around the themes presented that evening.