Innovation Projects
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1. Put residents first.

Design for users first by committing to fully understanding the needs and expectations of the community, and testing solutions with residents.

Create actionable content with tools & knowledge for residents to lead a full life.

Shape content that helps residents accomplish their goals and take advantage of what Austin has to offer. Let accessibility and style standards be our guide.

Strengthen public trust with transparency.

Build on current Open Data and engagement practices. Develop workflows for projects to be “Open by Default.” Create and share recommendations for how to maintain feedback loops.

Research and test with residents.

Conduct face-to-face research with residents, supplemented with quantitative data and industry knowledge. Create a human-centered test group that seeks out a diverse pool of residents to test prototypes.

2. Recognize that digital services require teams and competencies, not just software.

Support research, design, delivery, and integration with expert teams and by empowering non-traditional designers and technologists.

Develop a shared strategy for how to support digital services.

A document articulating our shared goals, how we’re going to accomplish them, who we need on our teams, and how we’ll be held accountable to reaching those goals.

Build digital services teams and improve workflows.

Build teams of experts who can be accountable for meeting digital service goals and creating shared resources that get other departments to join in the movement.

Identify opportunities for city-wide standards.

Evaluate opportunities for templating, training, and standardization across departments. Develop guardrails to provide autonomy while ensuring usability, accessibility, and effectiveness.

3. Cultivate Digital Community.

Meet experts’ enthusiasm with access to learning opportunities and cross-departmental and cross-discipline connection.

Contribute to and learn from the broader community.

Open solutions to comments and code from interested citizens. Encourage collaborative research, design, and development through active community engagement.

Create opportunities for ongoing learning.

Support designers and developers by providing opportunities for personal and professional growth. Empower employees to discover and cultivate new skillsets that align with organizational goals.

Invest in sharable, discoverable code.

Prioritize open solutions so we can share the source code. Inspire developers to contribute to living applications. Promote a culture of sharing and provide clear methods for collaboration with the technical community.

4. Champion iterative, data-informed methodologies.

Adopt an agile approach to technology and workflow design that uses prototyping, testing, and iteration to learn and improve over time, rather than “redesign”.

Establish safe spaces for prototyping & testing.

Cultivate a supportive technical and cultural environment in which new ideas can flourish. Empower trailblazers with tools to gather insight and data from potential solutions.

Empower staff to document and share the problems they’re finding and possible solutions.

Encourage employees to document and share problems and solutions as they find them. Provide tools for teams to establish clear documentation on how to improve.

Create and support modular, reusable components across departments.

Develop solutions that can be useful across departments and initiatives. Avoid redundant systems and “reinventing the wheel” with a repository of modular, reusable components.

5. Prioritize equity when planning features & functionality.

Seek equitable outcomes in our processes for workflow and technology development across city departments.

Set aside funds for General Fund depts.

Set aside at least $2M each year to improve content and functionality for digital services supporting General Fund departments.

Prioritize resident needs over budget availability.

Prioritize projects to provide the greatest value for residents, even when enterprise departments are offering more funding for their specific needs.

Get community feedback on the potential impacts of our actions.

Check in regularly with community organizations across the city about how we can better serve and represent residents with digital services.

6. Support agile procurement strategies that avoid vendor lock-in.

Purchase software one piece at a time, and avoid contracts that lock us into specific solutions, contractors, or vendors. Default to open source.

Break procurements into 3-month chunks.

We should never need to wait a year or more to see working software. Every three months our internal and/or vendor teams should release clear, functional results.

Solve current problems and learn what works.

Focus development time on solving the key issues that are being experienced, and don’t get distracted by a ten-year plan.

Avoid vendor lock-in.

Change contracts and processes to challenge vendors against proprietary software or systems that will reduce our ability to scale, upgrade, or negotiate in the future.