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16 July 2021 #60

Hello, welcome. 👋🏽👋🏻👋🏾

We recently published Open source in government: creating the conditions for success, a report that aims to help decision makers build a common understanding of their governments capability, enabling them to invest in the conditions for success. Thanks again to the Omidyar Network for their support in funding this work.


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Ways of working

😧  The Australian Government’s Digital Transformation Agency has identified 11 pain points that are common across Australia’s ‘life events’ services. The idea: to help understand systemic problems and identify whole-of-government opportunities so the teams can start to reduce complexity and improve citizen experience. Blog post on why here, and (wordy) poster here

📝  ​​A time-saver from the Canadian Digital Service: A faster way to create privacy and consent notices in government. The 'Generate Privacy and Consent Notices tool helps simplify how user researchers ask for consent for participants through a templated consent form. Internal use only at the moment but the repo is here. Reminds me of Consent Kit in the UK which automates user research admin. Handy.

💙  User needs 101 from designer Paul Smith is one for your non-Digital stakeholders. It brings together loads of good content on user needs that’s scattered across the web and presents it in a sensible, orderly, well-formatted way. Also, very well credited.

🙌  This is how to write a good preamble to a job advert. 👏 Quinn Daley – more effective than an actual job ad, more real and honest than a recruiter. Bravo Citizens Advice on their tremendous work culture.

State of technology

⚽  Following the England men’s football team's defeat during a penalty shoot out in the Euros, the prominent theme of this week in England has been around social media. It has given racists a platform to be vile but we’ve also seen it act as a unifying leveller, giving thousands of people a voice to share their outpouring of support and rectify an ugly narrative, highlight hypocrisy and hold authority to account

 🌞 This is cool. Solar Protocol is an art/science project based around this webpage: Rather than running it in a data centre plugged into the grid, it runs on a bunch of solar-powered Raspberry Pi computers. Here’s how it works, plus the TL;DR Twitter thread, and here’s how you can be a ‘server steward’ (spoiler: you need access to a sunny rooftop). At the time of typing, the active server is in Universidad del Desarrollo, Santiago.

🚓  There have been several bizarre cases of on-duty police pulling out their phones and playing music to trigger copyright filters while speaking with citizens. The belief seems to be that this will prevent citizen-filmed footage of any potential altercation they are involved in being shared on social media. Here’s one example caught on camera by the Anti Police-terror Project, another from the US, and this incident covered by Vice all of which were – that’s right – swiftly uploaded to social media. 🤷 Interested to see what position social media platforms take (though track records say we can’t expect strong ones). 

📵  Over to Belgium and another instance of citizens using tech to hold authority to account. Artist and speaker Dries Depoorter created The Flemish Scrollers – a project that uses AI and face recognition to identify distracted politicians on the government live streams and posts them to social media, tagging the preoccupied person. Here’s the Twitter account and here’s the Instagram

🇰🇪  An update from researcher Nasubo Ongoma on Caribou Digital and Qhala’s research into the impact of the pandemic on women whose livelihoods depend on buying or selling through digital platforms. The latest post looks at Kenya specifically but here’s the background

☁️  Matthew Cain, Head of Digital, Data and Customer Services at Hackney Council, describes a serious cyber attack that affected all the local council’s systems, apart from those hosted in their modern cloud infrastructure. They’ve now adopted a “cloud, unless” policy to restore services and this video is a nice way of sharing how they plan to prevent similar attacks

😮  And who knew that Zoom is actually 10 years old and was not in fact born in Lockdown 1.0.

Digital government

🇺🇸  President Biden signed an executive order because: “Capitalism without competition is exploitation”. One of the 72 initiatives in the order demands increased scrutiny of tech mergers in the hope of increasing innovation and making it easier for emerging businesses to enter the market. TL;DR: Monopolies of all shades should be on notice. Great explainer in this piece about how the move 'scrambles politics'

😊  Also in the US, Robin Carnahan has been confirmed as the new leader of the General Services Administration. She founded and led the State and Local Government Practice at 18F and plenty of people are excited by her appointment (Biden included). She is on record saying she was “horrified” by the slow pace of federal pandemic relief, especially unemployment systems, and says she will look for ways to support shared services “that don’t have to be reinvented and rebuilt and paid for by taxpayers over and over again in every state.” 

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿  In Wales, the Centre for Digital Public Services has updated its digital service standards following a review. Good, thorough explanation about why in the ‘what we’ve learned’ section. 

🇨🇦  Canada has published its Digital Government Strategy complete with an ambitious roadmap

👍  Brilliant to see that the British Columbia Public Service team has launched a catalogue of common components that can be reused across government digital services. So far components include a route planner and 'Express pay' which enables flexible, scalable and secure ways for citizens to pay. All components are tagged with 'established or 'emerging'.

News from Public Digital

On the Public Digital blog

▪️  Celebrating digital services teams in 2020-1 by Mike Bracken and David Eaves, looks at some of the achievements by digital service teams that were highlighted in this year’s Digital Services Convening. Sechi Kailasa has written separately about some of the emerging themes from the event.

▪️  Digital service projects in Africa: getting the basics right first is the first in a series of posts that shares the trends that emerged from our interviews with people involved in digital services projects in Africa. Read in French here. By Claire Bedoui and Clement Uwajeneza
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