Community, Collaboration, and MashupsInnovation and Empowerment in Local Government Kent County Council Pic & Mix Project Tanya Ahmed August 2009
WHAT IS A MASHUP ? A Mashup, or ‘web application hybrid’ is a web applicationthat combines or aggregates data from one or more sources
PIC & MIX PILOT PROJECTPrimary goal of the Pic & Mix Project from the Council’s point of view is toevaluate what kind of data would be useful and relevant for the community.Council is making their datasets freely available, and are designing a portalwere they can be used and aggregated with external data and applicationssuch as Google maps to produce something new.The data that is being made available is business data, access to services,economic and work deprivation, physical environment, and census areastatistics.KCC are hopeful that community and user engagement in this digital age ofinformation will reveal some interesting results.
PIC & MIX PILOT PROJECTThe Council is using this study to determine what information people want,but more importantly to determine what people need in order for their lives tofeel more enriched, more meaningful, and perhaps less frustrating on a dailybasis.The ideas and mashups generated by the pilot project will then be introducedfor all to use and will become an integral part of our web experience as auseful and meaningful social service.
PIC & MIX PILOT PROJECT“At a very basic level, part of knowledge management is to know where knowledge, information and data arestored. If you want to have more of a customer-focused service, then you need to know where that knowledgeand information is. If you’ve got it, you can re-engineer it in a way that customers can use via ofﬁcers but also– I suppose with the ‘Pic ‘n’ Mix’ project – by enabling people to use it themselves and create their own thingout of it... If you enabled customers, users, communities to have that information, it would all bepart of that personalisation and empowerment agenda. But it would also hopefully create some newinformation... It might be quite challenging, which is what we said when we did the competition, but that’s allpart of the democratic process.” Carol Patrick, Kent’s Head of Innovation
PIC & MIX PILOT PROJECTPic n Mix Project could help people search for jobs in the area, help residentsfind information about local services such as school and child care facilities inthe area, report petty crime, and provide information on local communityevents.Small and medium businesses in the local community have been involved inthe first stage of the pilot project - as the ‘focus group’ for usability studyThis information will be made available on a web platform provided by thecouncil for them to play with. The platform will support web forums and, blogsand ‘wikis’.
PIC & MIX PILOT PROJECTAs an example Google Maps could be combined with childcare facilitiesand general information regarding the facilities.This could then be combined or aggregated with information onwww.netmums.com to help parents make informed choices on childcarefacilities in their area.This would be a powerful and useful tool or mashup for families within thecommunity.Other members of the community could use the mashup as is, or they couldcustomise it to fit their requirements.
PEOPLE COMMUNITY INTERFACE DATAInteraction of People with Data through the Interface of the Web
PIC & MIX PILOT PROJECTThe challenge of the project is not only to convince people outside but also withinthe organisation of the potential and relevance of the project in the enrichment ofeveryone’s experience of living and being part of the local community.“Another challenge we face is managing expectations - the tools are only as goodas the information provided. What we’ll be looking at is how to make thatinformation easily accessible and reusable.” Noel Hatch, Projects and Innovation Lead for Innovation at Kent
PIC & MIX PILOT PROJECTThe sustainability and success of the project will depend on the usability of theapplication and website, the simplicity of the user interface, and the presentation,availability and the reliability of the data.The activity-centred design methodology used to develop a social interfaceneeds to support and predict the user’s reactions at every stage of the ‘mashupaggregation process’.
PIC & MIX PILOT PROJECTSimple to use interface - It is imperative that the task of creating mashupsbe as simple as possible, otherwise the danger is that people will not try theservice at all. Ultimately the success of the pilot project has the potential toimprove the quality of life within local areas and communities by empoweringusers to generate and share their own content with one another.Collaboration and Sharing - Users also need to be able to readily look atand comment on other people’s mashups so that the collaborative spirit ofdevelopment and exchange of ideas can be nurtured.Training Effectiveness - The effectiveness of the training will also play a partin the future success of the project. The use of instructional step by stepvideos will enable the learning process to be quick.
PIC & MIX PILOT PROJECTError Prevention and the potential recovery from error will also effect theexperience of the application.Data Quality - The availability and reliability of data is paramount to thesuccess and usefulness of any mashup
THE WEB AS PLATFORMLOOKING AT PIC & MIX WITHIN WIDER CONTEXT
Three Rules from Tim Berners-Lee“If the past was document sharing, the future is data sharing.”
“I want you to put your data on the Web.” But how should we go about that?To answer that question, he provides three points of instruction.1. URL should point to the data.2. Anyone accessing the URL should get data back.3. Relationships in the data should point to additional URLs with data.”
PIC & MIX PILOT PROJECT“The UK faces some big issues: climate change, an aging population, changing demographics, globalcompetition, etc. Increasingly, these issues are defying the conventional mechanisms we have for developingand delivering the policy to address them.This is where Web 2.0, or the social web, comes in. Frequently, when we think of Web 2.0, we think of blogs,wikis, and social networks — and this is certainly the case. But Web 2.0 is more than than a collection ofinternet tools. It is a philosophy. One of collaboration and user-involvement. The idea that through the effortsand knowledge of many, we can tackle issues which far exceed the capacity of one.” OpenGov
DESIGNING SOCIAL INTERFACESupport Social Interaction Social design as the “conception, planning, andproduction of websites and applications that support social interaction.Understanding Behavior - Behavior is a function of both personality andtheir environment. The environment encompasses everything around us,whether it is the physical environment or the software or web interfaces weuse.Understanding Usage Cycle of an Application The relationship a user willhave with a particular social website, application or software - dividing theirusage pattern into 5 stages. Their psychology and behaviour patterns playapart in the cycle
FRAMEWORK FOR SOCIAL DESIGN Focus on Primary Activity - Answer the question: What is your Audiencedoing? Identify Social Objects - Identify the objects that people interact with whiledoing the activity Choose your Core Feature Set - From the activity and objects derive a corefeature set answering the question: What are the actions people perform on theobjects, and which are important enough to support in the web application? Understand importance of Pesonal Value of social software
FRAMEWORK FOR SOCIAL DESIGN Detailed design document based on an activity centred design methodology. Task Flow Diagrams and detailed descriptions of all the tasks necessary for auser to complete an activity will laid out. These Tasks will be based on research of using Yahoo Pipes and possiblyother mashup creation tools to see what issues arise. Observing others using atool like this will help inform the design of the mashup tool, with regards to thefeatures and considerations that need to be taken into account when workingon the design documentation.
FRAMEWORK FOR SOCIAL DESIGN Wireframes will then be created and will help with the visualisation of theactivity-based design document. These deliverables will be handed over to Kent County Council at this stage fordiscussion with the application development team. User testing will also beconducted at a later date once the Mashup Tool (Beta Tool) has been launchedand the pilot stage is underway. The results of user testing can then be combined to provide a holistic view ofthe Pic & Mix pilot at the end of the study when a review will be done.
PIC & MIX PILOT PROJECTThe Pic & Mix Pilot can be seen as the prototype phase within the larger context of local councils engagingwith members of the community to deliver services and information that they need, rather than deliveringservices that the council wants to deliver. It is all about empowering people to challenge and change localcouncils and government’s policies and methods of dealing with the ‘general public.A user-centric approach where the individual is at the center of the public policy is the new model whichmirrors how the world wide web and web 2.0 technologies have turned passive individuals into activeinformation and knowledge sharing participants - or ‘information aggregators’.The liberating of data, whether it is enterprise data or government data, in the spirit of democracy andtransparency is a powerful idea. In a similar way the user is at the center of any social networking website onthe world wide web. This is the “design pattern” for a digital society.