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10 September 2020 #49

Hello again, welcome. 👋🏽👋🏻👋🏾

Last week, after 6 months of working from home, some of the Public Digital team commuted to our new office in Farringdon, London. We’re well set up to work remotely, but it felt good to be in the same space to welcome our London-based colleagues who have joined us since lockdown.

Welcome and elbow bumps to Indira Pratiwi, Claire Bedoui, Anna Hirschfeld and Chris Fleming.  

Our International Development team is doing some research into what makes digital public service delivery in Africa more likely to succeed or fail. We’d love to hear from you if you work (or have worked) on a digital public service in the region. You can read more about the project or jump straight to the survey.


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Ways of working


✏️ The GOV.UK Notify team are doing a discovery into whether Notify can help the public sector write ‘better’ comms. “Better content design means a better user experience. A well-written message makes things easier for the recipient, but it can also save the sender time and money.”

🇺🇸 Speaking of ‘bureaucratic mumbo jumbo’ found on government communication, the Michigan Government has rolled out a shorter, more citizen-centred form for renewing benefits. Here’s a before and after of one part. The result? 96% of people completed the new forms whereas 73% finished the old ones. There were 60% fewer errors and 50% fewer form-related office visits.

✅ This 3-step method for quantifying design work by Alen Faljic is nice. Read it. Use it.

😍 This Laws of UX site has been doing the rounds recently.  Beautifully presented. Very pleasing. 

✔️ Matt Jukes has compiled 10 tips for advertising government jobs based on those survey findings included in the last newsletter. 

🙌 Co-op published its accessibility policy for Co-op products and services. This post explains why they need it, how they’ll implement it and appeals to *you* to hold them accountable.

Effective communication ✋🎤📣
Loads of food for thought recently on changing / adapting how we communicate with teams. Good stuff includes:

State of technology


💭 Back in May, Amazon removed the product details from order confirmations. Why? To prevent Google (and/or other giants) seeing order data. Adrian Hon’s response looks to a dystopian future. He sees tech giants ‘worldscraping’ data through our soon-to-be standard augmented reality glasses resulting in ‘digital sight management.’ TL;DR version

🇧🇾 Belarus’ Telegram rebels take on Europe’s last dictatorship – how the Telegram messaging app has become “a life necessity” for citizens in Belarus. “It’s the only place where we can get authentic information.” Terrifying.

❤️ Twitter has summarised what we’ve seen on the social platform since the start of the pandemic. It picks out trends, supports them with examples of super powerful tweets (see the tweet used to illustrate a +428% 
increase in mentions about helping neighbours), and also captures how brands have responded. The ‘messy ethics’ section is particularly good. I love this stuff – a global time capsule of lockdown life. 

🎓 This is fun and apt. Students graduating from India’s ‘premier technological institute’ IIT Bombay were awarded their degrees via their virtual avatar.

Digital government

🇸🇱 How the Government of Sierra Leone is improving its Education Data Hub – a post by EdTech Hub who partnered with Public Digital on this research. Clear, concise comms summarising a few things learnt along the way.

🇹🇭 Prompted by the pandemic, Thailand’s Ministry of Digital Economy and Society will trial free wifi in 10 communities. The scheme aims to simplify the existing set-up and will mean people can access free broadband offered by different providers with one set of credentials. The hope is that it will help citizens “cope [better] with difficulties doing business and in daily life in the digital era”. Related: this post outlines the sterling digital inclusion work by Croydon Council. (Croydon was recently named in the ‘top 10 UK tech destinations’).

🌎 Olivia Neal asked can we quantify the economic benefits of digital government? She collated the responses – there’s a lot to dig in to here.

🇺🇸 At the Digital Services Convening we co-hosted with the Harvard Kennedy School in the spring, we heard from the team delivering the Californian state government’s digital response to the pandemic. They built in 4 days. Although the speed of delivery was important, the team would not prioritise it over accessibility and performance lessons. An interesting reflection on “sticking to your guiding principles, especially in crisis mode.”

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

An update on our international development work by Emily Middleton

Help us learn about the delivery of digital public services in Africa by Clement Uwajeneza

Latin America’s opportunity to embrace digital transformation by Dan Abadie, and here in Spanish

Hola, Spanish-speaking friends
🇪🇸 If you’d prefer to read this newsletter in Spanish, you can sign up here. 😊
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We’re Public Digital. We work for governments and large organisations around the world to help them adapt to the internet era. 

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