Innovation Projects
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Introduction

Here you’ll find an overview of a project to create an online tracking interface for City of Austin projects. This effort is a partnership between the City of Austin’s Communications and Technology Management department and the Office of Innovation. This effort is also a commitment the City of Austin has made as part of its participation in the Open Government Partnership subnational pilot program.

Background

The City of Austin consists of 40+ departments and over 13,000 employees serving almost 1 million people. There are tons of City-sponsored projects going on at any given moment in time – street resurfacing, park improvements, service delivery, and research, to name a few. It can be challenging for people in Austin to know what projects are going on relevant to them, what their status is, and how they can learn more (or even participate). City staff often face the same challenge. Because many of Austin’s challenges cross departmental lines–such as housing affordability, which involves at least half a dozen departments–many employees need easier access to information on other City projects that relate to their work.

This project seeks to make it easier for people in Austin to have a sense of what projects the City is working on, the state of progress of those projects, how the projects relate to critical goals, and how they are funded. More specifically, we are committing to build an online project tracking tool people can use to find this information.

We made a commitment to build and test a project tracking tool as part of our participation in the Open Government Partnership subnational pilot program. In short, we committed to up the City of Austin’s game in transparency, civic participation, accountability, and technology innovation.

We’re also following in the footsteps of other governments around the world who have invested in platforms to let people track projects. Here are a few examples:

Mexico

Mexico created a tracking interface to share updates on its commitments as part of the Open Government Partnership.

Mexico’s project tracking tool, titled “Tablero”. The interface shows open government commitments Mexico has made and where they are in the process.

UK Government Digital Service

The United Kingdom’s Government Digital Service created a dashboard to show the status of its digital services projects in stages of agile development. UK Government Digital Service projects dashboard. Site shows projects at different stages of agile development process: Discovery (user needs are researched and identified), Alpha (A core service is built to meet the main user needs), Beta (The service is improved, then tested in public), and Live (The service is public and works well. It’ll be continually improved to meet user needs). The site provides links to more information on each project at each stage.

Ontario, Canada

Ontario, Canada is tracking its own Open Government Partnership commitments by their stage in implementation.

Ontario’s open government project tracker. Site shows different open government projects by their stage of completion: Planning (projects are being researched), Developing (project is being developed and designed), Implementing (projects are being executed), and Complete (projects have been completed). The site provides links to more information on each project at each stage.

Planning

Scope

This is a four-month project that will have three main parts: (1) Discovery, (2) Design & Testing, and (3) Integration & Sustainment

Outcomes we aim to achieve:

  • Better understanding of what projects the City is working on, status, funding–for public and City staff
  • Increased public engagement and commitment to civic goals
  • More collaboration among City departments and with the community

Timeline and project phases

The project will run from May 2017 - August 2017. Because we practice iterative design, when and how we may be executing tasks is likely to shift to meet the project’s needs. The below phases will overlap.

1. Discovery (2 months)

Interviews with public stakeholders and City staff to understand challenges and opportunities regarding an open project tracking tool. Expected deliverables:

  • Discovery plan for user needs (public stakeholders and City staff, producers and consumers of information) and technology
  • Report out on existing project management platforms
  • Report out on public and inter-departmental interests in projects
  • Decision about what information about projects will be collected

2. Design & Testing (2 months)

Design and prototype project tracking tool options based on insights from the discovery stage, and test them with different types of users. Expected deliverables:

  • Wireframes (design blueprints) of possible solutions
  • Alpha release of project tracking interface
  • Online resource for viewing work in progress and tracking issues, questions, and feature requests from the community

3. Extend, Integrate, & Sustain (1 month)

Refine the design, content, and implementation of the tracking interface and explore how we might integrate it in other teams/projects. Expected deliverables:

  • Beta release of project tracking interface
  • Live release of project tracking interface
  • Prioritized backlog of potential improvements
  • Roadmap for intake/integration with project management systems
  • Sustainability plan: roles, responsibilities, and processes for managing the solution and its iteration after the project