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16 July 2020 #47

👋 Hello friends, here’s hoping you’re safe and well.

Tools are great, but leaders are essential too. Here’s Australian MP Victor Dominello talking about a new funding process for Digital and ICT investments in the New South Wales Government. "It’ll mean less paperwork… but you’ll need to come back more often to seek funding demonstrating working software." Good stuff.

Today we published the Public Digital Positions. They state where we stand on certain issues and they'll evolve over time. 

🇪🇸 A nudge to our readers who may prefer to read this newsletter in Spanish. Sign up here for the same content. Thank you to Dan and Angie who are doing the hard work so you don’t have to. 


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Ways of working

🇺🇸  Radically Reimagining Atlanta’s City Jail describes how a community used service design techniques to agree on a new approach for non-violent offenders. Eliminating jargon and breaking down exclusive systems helped them engage around 600 resident ‘experts’. The approach demonstrated that residents’ input and lived experiences are valued. It also helped “cut through tension, and it made way for difficult conversations and deep listening to take place.”

Apolitical has published ‘the world’s best tools and resources’ for digital government. The list includes ‘all you need to launch a digital revolution in your department’. (And there’s something very meta about mentioning this resource in the Public Digital newsletter because it mentions the Public Digital newsletter as a resource…😆). 

🇬🇧  Unlocking value with durable teams by Anna Shipman, Technology Director at the Financial Times (FT) considers the pros and cons of initiative-based teams and explains why FT Product and Technology is moving to a durable team structure. It’s thoughtful and thorough and also echoes one of our beliefs at Public Digital: fund teams, not projects. (An aside: much of the FT’s coronavirus content is free to read).

🇨🇦  “How much do you really *want* to change?” is the carefully phrased question Honey Dacanay at the Canadian Digital Service asks teams. Her post on Asking the ultimate awkward question explores how government in a digital era is about a reset in the relationship between policy, delivery and evaluation. Her older post is also worth sharing with anyone new to the public sector.

💡 Co-op Digital has brought its ways of working together to create one big design resource. It includes methods suited to various product stages along with step-by-steps on how to run relevant workshops.

🐬🐐 The ‘animals on Zoom calls’ phenomenon continues with various levels of charm. An animal home in Canada promises Buckwheat the donkey will be the biggest ‘ass’ at your meeting, a research centre in Florida is charging $225 for 25 virtual minutes with a dolphin, while Cronkshaw Fold Farm in the UK is hiring out goats to help fund the farm's renewable tech (prepare for bold copywriting here).

State of technology

👏🏽  Tom Loosemore’s think piece for Business Insider about Google and Apple's diktat to governments on contact-tracing apps discussed the troubling display of unaccountable power. The tech giants “dictated to 197 countries how the world's estimated 3.2 billion smartphones could — and could not — be used to combat the spread of coronavirus… Not one government fought back.”

🇵🇭💳 Mastercard has partnered with tonik, the first digital-only ‘neobank’ in the Philippines. 70% of Filipinos do not have bank accounts but a challenger bank could begin to accelerate inclusion. It’s potentially a game-changer –  however, will it reach people in rural areas? 🇲🇲 A similar story in Myanmar – only 26% of people are banked. Tech Asia’s video explains the importance of fintech infrastructure to help push the country into the digital age. Featured: an online travel agency that sells flights but often has to send a car to pick up cash payment. 

✅ Last year Google did a lot of work around explainable AI, set out its commitment to increasing transparency and launched model cards which aimed to help teams make responsible decisions. This piece is specific to transparency within machine learning. “Force policy-makers to be more explicit about their objectives,... values and political choices. Expose policy trade-offs that may have previously only been implicit.” 

🇪🇹 Silencing citizens through internet control – the Ethiopian government has been accused of shutting down the internet to ‘muzzle activism’. The pandemic has meant many migrant Ethiopian women who were working as maids in the Middle East have lost their jobs and have been more exposed more than ever to abuse. But organised protests were abandoned because they would be “really pointless [during an internet blackout when] the government couldn’t see”. 

🌍 Gerry McGovern says digital is killing our planet and asks what we can do about it. A chapter from his recent book gives data on ‘super-bloated’ web design and concludes the greater the bloat, the greater the cost to the environment. Check how your site is impacting the planet

🇭🇰 Hong Kong-based logistics company GoGoVan has expanded, rebranded and been renamed GoGoX to incorporate pick up and delivery services for items such as groceries, medicine and gift through an Uber-like app. They operate across south-east Asia, ‘eXhilarating everybody by delivering love, happiness and dreams.’ Thankfully, they have 2 serious competitors. 

Digital government

🇮🇳 Is India dressing up mass surveillance as public welfare? Fingerprint-based authorisation to access funds is problematic when coronavirus spreads through touch, plus earlier this year, 1,100 fingerprints casts were found. 🇹🇭 In similar news, this piece asks why Thai authorities are racially profiling Malay Muslims – it is mandatory for Malay Muslims living in south Thailand to have their fingerprints taken and faces scanned just to register their SIM cards. 

🙌 When it was just starting out in 2015, the UK Notify team set up this microblog to capture the day-to-day. It got shut down for being 'off-grid comms'. Remember the days before 8-rounds of sign off? 

📼 You can watch Tom speaking on Parliament TV  about Universal Credit: the wait for a first payment.

😷 And bringing up the rear, please enjoy Wigan Council’s cheeky face mask humour.

News from Public Digital

We can help
We have many years of experience helping teams and their wider orgs reorganise, innovate and deliver quickly so they can look forward with more confidence. Drop a line if you’d like some support.

On the PD blog

😊 Andrew Greenway talks about how we’re working with NHS Providers to support digital development in NHS Trusts – an exciting new piece of work for Public Digital and something we’re very proud to be involved with.

👏 Claire Bedoui pulled out the themes we heard at the Digital Services Convening and grouped them into short-term tactics and longer-term priorities for digital teams in her post Responding to a crisis.

💪 James Stewart wrote about How and why we’ve iterated our Covid19 response sites tracker following the feedback on A prototype that compares coronavirus response sites. It’s very honest about what we got wrong first time round.

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