Mind the Gaps

Observation in the feild in Bristol's Southville

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Research Question: Can we enhance collaboration across data structures between France and the UK?

Project: Bristol and Bordeaux: Mapping ‘inequality gaps’ in twin cities to better understand how to solve them.

Funding: The Open Data Institute
Client: Bristol City Hall

Overview: Our challenge research exesting was to build a product to map inequality in Bristol and test the same software in Bordeaux.

My Role: I was part of the multidisciplinary research team formed of 1 content strategist, 2 software designers, 1 facilitator and 1 design researcher (myself). We worked together taking an agile approach. My duties were to map the context of the project and combine and collect quantitative and qualitative research with users and stakeholders, create research material, facilitate the co-design workshops in our team and with stakeholders, synthesize data from our fieldwork, pick out key insights and areas for development. Alongside this I worked on building, testing and iterating service prototypes as well as presenting the research to client and key stakeholders throughout the project.

Our Approach: Our goal was to map inequality measurement in Bristol, compare the existing data with citizen lived experience and begin understand how this data was being used to affect policy design and budget allocation. We kick started the project with an alignment session and dived into an intense week of fieldwork in Bristol. We adapted the design Sprint method to fit the busy schedule of our stakeholders and our collaborative process invited stakeholders and users to engage meaningfully with the research. Aiming to be as inclusive as possible we employed a variety of research techniques from workshops, surveys, guerilla interviews, observation & informal chats. To validate our findings we tested prototypes in the streets and presented results to the Innovation team at city hall for feedback. The body of work was then presented to the Open Data Institute and the findings brought to the UK France Data Summit.

Our key value propositions were:
Reducing time need from citizens to feed back to City Hall,
Allowing citizens to do so in real time, or just once per year,
significantly reducing the cost of data collection by creating a zero running costs service.

Results: The final deliverables of this project were: 1 citizen sensing Toolbox; 1 open research diary; 2 project websites; 1 published article; 2 open data sets; and presentations at 5 conferences across Europe.

Developing the 3rd iteration of the survey
Map of the survey development process

Lessons Learnt:

Working as a team across all project elements removes the need for internal comms saving time and maximize learning opportunities.

Publishing work in real time helps keep a complex network of stakeholders in the loop.

Working to effect change in Local Government has many challenges. Getting work and findings in front of decision makers and policy makers is difficult.

Most decisions in government are made on gut feelings rather than data.

Datasets are often outdated. Robustly analysing data takes time and resource so by the time government publishes findings the numbers are often 2 years old. As the pace of innovation increases this becomes more problematic.

Overview of the Toolbox
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