Certainly. Officially, I only began recording now, [laughs] so off-the-record conversation wasn’t part of the video. I’m Audrey Tang, digital minister in charge of social innovation, open government, and youth engagement, which is the same thing anyway to me. Really happy to be here.
I’m Beth Noveck, currently serving as the chief innovation officer for the state of New Jersey, was previously the deputy chief technology officer and the head of open government for the Obama Administration. I’ve also advised both the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and worked for David Cameron, Prime Minister of the UK.
Sorry. Good morning. I am Hal Seki from Code for Japan. I’m the founder of Code for Japan. Code for Japan is a nonprofit foundation for facilitating the speak tech activities in Japan. Also, I’m working for the Digital Agency Japan as a project manager of civi tech activities. Thank you.
My name is Miyata. My major is data science as well as scientist method to improve real world. Let us quick introduce the concept of the co-innovation Architecture Design Conference. We like to apply the concept of the smart city.
What is smart? The smart is for the industry, for the big stakeholder, we like to change the concept for a people-centric. Also, the aim is not for such the economies or the profit just for wearing sustainable future and present wearing and divesting inclusion.
We set up our aims, such kind of upper layer and the club light together. The concept is, not only the physical world but also utilizing the metaverse and this is going to be a virtual community and network and the set.
Thank you, Miyata. I think this is maybe a good place to kick off. I’ll pick certain topics, but again, feel free to take the conversation into slightly different areas. First of all, the title is important. This is something that, San and I, and others have worked on to develop.
The idea of co-innovation, architecture, and design are all pretty important words for us. Co-innovation is key because up till now, government services have been mostly centrally planned. One way of saying it, it’s been very supply-side oriented. It’s designed by [laughs] and for the people who have the power.
The idea of co-innovation, which is, could be co-design or people-centric design is, the government has started to say it, which is good, but it’s not clear that we really know how to do it. That would be one of the important topics to talk about. I guess, we could start there if people are OK.
I know, Audrey, you’ve shared with me in the past a lot of the ways that you’ve engaged citizens in design, but maybe Sixun runs, is a really interesting position, which is code for Japan is one of the largest groups that do community-oriented hackathons and design.
He’s also, right in the middle of the digital agency working on projects and materials, the term co-design. I’m not sure maybe you can report a little bit on what’s the state of design practices and co-design in Japan. Then maybe we can hear from Beth and Audrey, examples and advice on how we might make it better.
Let me share quickly about the situation of the co-innovation between the citizen and the government in Japan. As a coder for Japan founded in 2013, and gradually, the citizen’s side communities are growing. We have our own 19th Local Code of our communities and they are working with the local government levels.
There are some good examples about co-innovative project. We created some tools, other open source. Recently, I feel many of the projects are leaded by voluntary groups. The government doesn’t know how to collaborate with them as foundation level.
Also, we have some difficulty about making good policies together. Still, the policy level, the planning is led by the top levels of decision-making process, and citizens are not much involved in that process.
We started a project called make our city project and provide some tools like this sitting. It is open-source, civic engagement tools born in Barcelona. Still that activity are weak and no budgeting from many of government. We are still challenging to create policies together.
Certainly. First of all, I thank you for this new branding of co-innovation. Is a brand new SEO term that we’re free to add no more meanings to? In a previous iteration when it was still called social innovation HR co-governance and so on.
I’ll highlight two points. The first is that the public civil servants in the front line in those local areas, they probably already have all the required innovation figured out. It’s just they don’t have the political support or the budget, or the public communication expertise or whatever, to realize those innovations.
To me, one of the most important thing in regional rejuvenation or revitalization is to get them a safe space to get those ideas. Let’s say, escalated or amplified on a national forum so that they get the mandate that they would need to convince their mayors.
This has been the most important thing that we’ve seen in contact tracing, in vaccination, in mass distribution, and so on. The same patterns repeat itself so much that we organized the presidential hackathon around this very principle of public service co-innovation. That’s my first point.
My second point is that, when people see the good idea, the good models and so on, they’re going to ask, how are we going to fund those things? In Taiwan, we’re basically using this idea that we call Pay for Success.
I know it has at least seven different names like Retroactive Public Good Funding or whatever. There’s somebody who says the debt, but it’s not really a debt, is an investment, that is co-created, co-designed.
We ask the private sector to help fund these in the expectation of a contract, of a return by the government when these innovation create social values that could be at least monetized in such away. It’s not monetized. It’s dollarized, you can put a social return of investment on it.
Now that the crux of the matter is to get a people public-private partnership, where the people set a norm – in which the republic sector as the private sector – to put a dollar amount. The time is saved. The budget is saved, and so on, so that we can payout.
We structure it like award, not a particular grant. That’s the structure that we’ve been engaging the youth in making sure that they participate in original rejuvenation attempts, without worrying too much about the initial capital investment.
[laughs] I’ve written three books on the topic, Joichi, so plenty of experience. We’re tomorrow running a co-design project that we’ve done most recently in five cities in Mexico, previously in five cities in Africa.
Tomorrow, I’m running the same project in California, to co-design solutions to urban challenges between government and residents. I’m happy to share more details on this. On the model that we use for doing this co-design work.
Let me share three broader points here. One is that it’s very important to recognize that there are different types of co-design or collective intelligence or engagement or whatever term we want to use.
To be very clear about when we’re trying to engage in human-centered design versus crowdsourcing versus open innovation versus collaboration. It’s crucial to be clear on whether the goal is to try to identify a problem or to solve the problem together or to implement a solution to a problem or to evaluate collectively what is or isn’t working.
For these different stages of policy implementation or project management, it’s useful to have the right platform. It becomes very easy to use the wrong platform for the wrong purpose, or the wrong process for the wrong purpose.
Starting from the perspective of what are you trying to accomplish, is incredibly useful as a basic idea for knowing what kind of a co-design process to implement. Number one. Number two, it’s recognizing – as you explained at the outset, Joichi – that a lot of the discussions about co-design are still what I would call lip service.
People are talking about it. They don’t have experience doing it. They haven’t been trained in how to do it in university or in graduate school. It’s not part of the job description. If you’re coming out of a tech culture and you know what a hackathon is, it’s one thing, but people in government are not trained in this way. Training is extraordinarily important.
That’s where some of Audrey’s work around the participation officer’s network, and teaching people how to co-design and co-create is so crucial. I wouldn’t underestimate the importance of talent in capacity building, to be able to do co-design.
Just as we know that you need some training in data science to be able to use data and open data, you need training to be able to engage in co-design. I’ll stop by putting a link in the chat. Not to any of the things I mentioned, but to something else, which is a series of global case studies of governments co-designing with residents around the world.
Then, a guide, a short and longer paper that we did with Nesta, on what are the lessons learned from that. If you click on the report, you’ll see there’s a short guide. We have everything summarized in one picture.
Excellent. Thank you. As a process point out, I’ll inject that I’m going to do a Joichi conversation style discussion. If anybody has anything to say, there’s a little smiley face and there’s a thing to raise your hand. Raise your hand if you have something to say, otherwise, we’re going to go free association.
One of the topics, that I wanted to cover as well, that Beth started talking about, which is capacity building and training and learning. I think that one of the problems that I see quite often in addition to lip service is very well-meaning decisions and discussions that this is what needs to happen, without any real mechanism of how it’s going to happen. [laughs]
A lot of these reports, including the one that we’re going to be feeding into, I can imagine will have a lot of very visionary ideas, including co-design without any real who’s going to do it and how they’re going to do it.
One of the things that I see is capacity building is always the second thing after, “OK, here’s what we need to do.” Beth as you say, traditional capacity building is feeding people information that then they consume.
I don’t think that’s the way that people learn how to do things like co-design. I’m curious sort of I know that…By the way, sending us links is great, because these are all things that we can consume. We’ll put them in the report. If you have either links or ideas and what have been effective ways…
With pair programming, I always think it’s wonderful because at the end of several months you have twice as many people who know how to do it, [laughs] if you can keep adding people to this ongoing thing.
I wonder for co-design and again, Beth, as you said, there’s many different types of co-design and co-innovation. For any category to be found, what is the most effective way to increase capacity both in government as well as in local regions? Please go ahead if anybody wants to jump in. Hal Seki?
For example, Tokyo Metropolitan Government recently organized the hackathon and invite local government officials, developers, and also the students. I see the people inside the government realized some of the students intend to work and make a city better place.
Maybe if I interpret a little bit of what Hal is saying is, first of all, building the trust that you develop when you’re working together on something, is a very good first step before you get to more sophisticated things like platforms and project management systems.
I’m curious whether you have any thoughts on where you go, how to go from hackathon, or first of all, how to do a good hackathon, and then how to go from hackathon to more, let’s call them core services that we might be able to deploy. I don’t know if you have any.
The lesson for hackathons, or for any engagement, is the same, which is, you have to make it relevant. What works so well about…I’m going to sing Audrey’s praises because she’s here and it’s fun to do and better than talking only about myself. I’ll give some other examples too since Audrey can talk best about herself.
The great part about what Audrey does is, there’s an outcome to it. It’s not citizen engagement or participation for its own sake. The fact that Taiwan has the example of saying we crafted 26 pieces of national legislation, as a result of co-design, is much more powerful frankly than all of these conversations about French citizens assemblies where none of the recommendations go anywhere.
Similarly, what makes for a bad hackathon is a bunch of people making apps that nobody is going to use. I think the important thing is not to wind up the machinery of engagement or open innovation co-design, co-creation without the ability to explain how it’s useful.
It doesn’t mean you have to promise to use everything people tell you. You just have to be able to explain the purpose. Tomorrow I came from a two-hour meeting to plan. We have 30 groups in the room tomorrow, and we’re asking them to spend two days with us designing an engagement.
It’s about clarity of instructions and directions, clarity of workflow, and having thought through the process ahead of time. To come back to the original question is why the training is so important because you need to teach people how to do that and how to articulate that kind of an agenda.
Thank you very much. I deeply respect your projects, such as pay for success, for the hackathon and empowerment people, it’s very important. On the other hand, also better to develop the platform to utilizing, to co-create shared value.
We discuss with them about how we can cover that? What is the social good? We like to share the data and also co-create the algorithm for the sustainable future or well-being. The economic purpose is the second word is set bond. The purpose-setting platform co-innovation is important topic for the next step.
You were describing how children in schools start with a purpose and then develop a project and then learn to code. I thought that path was very interesting. I’m very curious how you think about purpose in this context that we’re talking and maybe capacity building too.
I’ll use a very concrete example of this year. This year’s presidential hackathon. Presidential Hackathon 2022 is funded by the National Science Council similar to the National Science Foundation. The actual implementer is the Ministry of Interior.
It’s only on open data and data pipelines and privacy-enhancing technology and so does the digital ministry come to play. This is a very clear strata, that the National Science Council does this shared goals, co-definition. It’s firmly on the problem identification phase.
We have two phases. One is multi-month, what we call the idea zone. Where we engage the artists, the poets, the moviemakers, the game makers, or whatever. Their job is not to produce any code, although some code would still be involved. Rather to clarify the vision and to put into visual or interactive arts, what people’s collaborative wish are.
They know that they will get funding that puts into the National Science Council’s way of emerging innovation funding track. By that time, they already know that there will be budget allocated to this, whether it’s telemedicine or tele-education or things like that.
Then, when it concerns private data and things like that, well, then the digital ministry comes to play, but not before that. The most important thing is not before, because otherwise, solutionism enters the space.
Then, smart citizens become trapped in smart cities and they become less smart citizens. [laughs] That’s the general flow of work. In day-to-day detail tons, this can work because we have well-trained participation officer teams.
I’ve pasted more than 100 different collaboration meetings that we’ve done together. They always, again, begin by a wish proposed by a citizen, but of course, local public servants are also citizens. They propose many interesting things.
Hence, pinpoints the problem is often government cost. Whether it’s a bad tax filing system, whether it’s blocking mountaineers from entering the indigenous spaces. For good reason I’m sure, but not well explained. Very bad ocean policy that makes it very difficult for people to find what activity they can do or whatever.
They are government cost problems. Which means that the government can solve them. Then when we enter the collaboration meetings, the breakout groups are facilitated not by the participation officer of the ministry involved, but rather by totally unrelated ministries, and this is my design.
When we co-created tax filing together, maybe the ocean guard, the coastal guard, hosts that breakout group. When we talk about ocean policy, maybe it’s the tax agencies’ participation officer. The reason why is that, the coastal guard also files their own tax and suffers from it.
The tax agency officer [laughs] also surfing, and fishing and things like that. The citizens when they entered this workshop were both online and face-to-face, they feel that their break out group leader A, he knows a lot about public service, and B is actually on citizens’ side.
Then, that’s a very empowering move, because then those persuasion officers feel that they have solved [laughs] their problems by not breaking out of their own silos, but starting outside of those silos.
That’s one of the mentalities that could be fostered very easily if you just design your co-creation groups by facilitating with senior or at least mid-level public officials well outside of their silo, but themselves represent the same values that local system have.
This is a question both to you and to Beth. You were saying the training of these participation officers, and it sounds like you have a design practice that’s also being developed. How do you capture these, let’s call them design practices? Then how do you then train people?
I know Beth has been coordinating across countries. I’m curious one, how that’s done, and two, whether we can learn more practically. How we might do this in Japan? I don’t know. Audrey or Beth, either.
Sure. We’ve been documenting everything and that’s part of the radical transparency thing. For each and every collaboration meeting, if you click into the CM side, you will see the mirror map, the mind map. The full transcript of what has transpired. Sometimes a live streaming record and things like that.
Basically, we publish the preparation stages by capturing it, initially using human transcribers, but nowadays, our Webex. We’re using more and more assistive intelligence in capturing those things, which is very easy if you invest into the right microphones, but because of the COVID this year, everybody has good microphones.
That makes things easier. The point I’m making is that you don’t need to consciously document it. Make sure that you have people who work remotely and make it a habit to start a conversation saying, this will be on the record and put it on record.
Then afterwards, it’s very easy to use some simple machine learning to create a site like RCN site, so that everybody can go back to a widely popular citizens’ initiative, a petition, or whatever, and find out exactly what has transpired before that meeting, because everything before that meeting is also documented.
Public servants, they are very intelligent people. They learn from these materials. [laughs] Of course, we do organize workshops and things like that. Having the raw materials that they can relate to is very important.
As far as documenting learnings, we’ve been trying to…There’s two ways in which we do that. One is, by having learning via central focus, it means we’re constantly in that process of trying to figure out lessons learned.
We do that through, doing things like writing case studies, but then we turn the case studies into podcasts. We turn them into one-pagers because we know that the busy government professionals we work with, don’t have time or interest to read long case studies.
Find the link. I’ll put a link to one of the earlier. We’ve been doing a lot of skills training for a long time, but then when I took this latest role in government, one of the first things I did, some of you have seen this was to build a skills training platform.
We were taking the lessons we were learning and turning them into short videos that we could then share with people. Then we turn the videos into a series of live masterclasses, which we’re now doing across states. Now, we’re starting a new project with UNDP to do this across countries.
We’re constantly taking what we’re learning from practice and turning it into teaching materials. We have a team that’s become good at writing scripts and editing them and creating learning objects if you will, out of these experiences.
What happens is, we start people with a very, very brief introduction to something like a 10-minute video about co-design. Then that gets them more interested. What happens is, we just did for example, an eight-part course on co-designing solutions to problems.
We graduate people from a little bit of content to a little bit of something in your own time, to something live and a little bit longer, to something slightly longer. Then we graduate from there to coaching.
Which is, now that we’ve introduced you to some of these skills around co-design as well as uses of data, we then work with you to learn how to apply this to your own projects. We’ve started doing office hours, where you can come with a project you’re working on and we coach you through how to apply these skills to your own work.
Yeah. The teaching is really important. We have the workshops for the local government officials called Data Academy and GovTech Academy. We have similar program. We have a series of workshops for the local officials, invite them, and teach them.
Not only teach, also we work with them and solve their local programs because they have no time to only learn new things. They have to solve their programs so that we work with them and try to solve the small program with them using the data visualization or using some RPAs or some other techniques.
I have a question to Beth. The difficult point is, public officials are too busy to learn this kind of new things. They are not fueled to try but they learned. The government give official support for the learners or some mandatory things to learn new things?
A really good point. I don’t know the situation in Taiwan. I can tell you that…I hope you’ll tell us. In Singapore, learning is mandatory and there is a real culture of learning – the sense that I will fall behind the private sector if I don’t train and learn.
In Germany, it’s a little different in that they…There’re requirements for training. It’s part of your collective bargaining agreement – as part of the public sector unions – that you do get to do training. It’s still a struggle and getting people to do the right training.
What we lack for sure, in the United States, unlike in Singapore and Canada, and some other places, we don’t have a strategy or a vision. No one says, “In the 21st century, we think it’s important for public servants to know how to use data and how to engage with citizens, or it’s important to know digital skills.”
In Singapore, they’ve said, “We think it’s important for public servants to know how to code.” I don’t think that’s the right thing, frankly, but I like the fact that they’ve picked something, and that there’s a vision for what to do, which we completely lack in the United States.
In the US, there’s no incentive, there’s no requirement, there’s no vision. You just have no culture of learning particularly, and then when people get busy, it’s the very first thing that you stop doing, is you stop upscaling, basically.
I just pasted a link. It’s a metro map for learning for public service. Social innovation line is line F. Next too, is the line G, the assistive intelligence line. There are also lines on circular economy and emerging technologies and things like that.
If you click on those stops, it will show you the masterclasses, the workshops, and things like that. We’ve tried to gamify it, it’s a lot of fun. Also shows the synergies between those concepts and case studies and the resource that you can tap into, to start your own presidential hackathon initiatives and so on.
Making it fun is the important thing. We’re all experts here in the public service to make things fair and we’re working on making it fast, but fun is [laughs] something that’s required if you want very busy public servants to feel like this has something to do with their job.
As for mandatory, for the working mid-level public servants to become managers in Taiwan, it’s mandatory for them to go into a multi-month problem-solving workshop using these metros lies as guides and basically, as if their own director journal and what would you do? [laughs]
For example, how to make future payouts to the health insurances as fair and fun as the mask distribution, or whether the National Health Insurance administration can serve as an internal cloud provider and so on.
Thank you very much for your great practice. I believe your practice is a great. Also, the most important is just empower innovators and the early adopters. From perspective, social marketing, it’s an optimal way to spread the new idea forward. On the other hand, in Japan, especially in Japan, it’s a hyper aging society already.
Many people thinking about, the late majority also laggard, something we should include such kind of people. Just start cutting-edge project from the innovators, early adopters. It’s perfect and essential.
Yesterday it was in Pingtung and this is the mayor of the Pingtung County. There’s a small video down there below the food. Aside from me, donning indigenous nation her stuff and cooking together and so on.
What I was trying to show is that this is a primary school that a lot of the seniors in their 70s and so on, they were educated there, but because of the aging society and not being the salesman of Taiwan, there’s no sufficient schoolchildren to sustain that school anymore.
Basically, we collaboratively with the Ministry of Education and Interior reopened the school so that it’s a public park-ish now. The point here is that the senior people, when they go back to their primary school, in their memory, they can still see the pineapple fields are still there, everything is there.
Next to the field and literally without wars, so you can’t ignore that. Is some agricultural helicopters, drones, and so on. That are basically the South Taiwan’s main license field for license operators, pilots of agriculture-related drones.
They get to see the pineapple fields themselves can be painted into a rainbow color or whatever color to attract tourists and things like that. Basically, put it somewhere they can’t ignore. It’s just their alarm, their primary school. It’s in one of the most central places, so they just walk next to it.
I think it won some design awards in architecture. By the night when they gather, just a public park, they then are mingled automatically with the young people, who then will listen to their pin-points and then start their social entrepreneurship proposals based on those seniors ideas or seniors pin-points and so on.
The point is that, we can’t really convince people of different generations to change their priorities. We can do a collaborative kitchens, so that simply by showing up the form, shared goals are first and foremost in people’s minds instead of particular solutions.
It also makes the indigenous people and other people who are strictly speaking, less well represented in the city council level and things like that, feel this sense of intersectionality because people younger 18 are also unrepresented. [laughs]
There’s this natural solidarity going around when you have spaces like this and my own office in the Social Innovation Lab is the same. We literally tore down the wall of Air Force headquarters to convert it to the public park so people can come in and play basketball or whatever and cook together.
Great. Thank you very much. Utilizing the mark today of culture is a brilliant idea. We’re also developing life-long learning in rural areas concerning the moving bookshelves. You already say food culture.
Sometimes old people get it together, and communicate with newcomers matter. Old people know what is the best timing for the fruits, and the new people know various way of cooking and they gather together and co-created new and delicious warmth.
Such culture links diverse community, and it’s sometimes the nature or sometimes the traditional festivals, and sometimes food culture and musics. Multi-layered culture is a good clue to get it together. Thank you very much.
I was brainstorming with some of our digital agency, senior people, and there are a number of people who are in the digital agency who have open source projects on the side that are very useful. They’re tied to government services, but they’re not rewarded for that at all.
There’s a couple of pieces, one, how can we encourage people to do open source and reward people for doing these side projects? Also, from policy perspective, how do you integrate it assuming that you agree that it’s important?
[laughs] One of the requirements for becoming a minister or senior person is you have to make a useful pull request before you get to the next phase. That’s great. Thank you for your pull requests to Japanese government services, Audrey.
There is by the way a whole lot of people who focus on open source policy-making too. In terms of helping people to understand what a pull request is, it’s not just code but doing policy in an open source way, which may help to explain it.
In terms of the arguments, it’s very helpful in terms of political leadership to understand like the arguments that it’s again the right thing to do, or not very helpful. It’s faster, and it’s cheaper.
We built new business services platform, and we saved easily 6 to 12 months by stealing code from another jurisdiction and building on what they had done. We were able to explain how much time it saved us and therefore, how much money it saved us.
There’s, of course, all the cybersecurity arguments but appealing to the bottom line that you’re going to get the best in class services as a result, is really, really important. Even more important than the open-source code is data interoperability and data sharing, and the ability to design the whole government as a platform idea.
We found very little resistance to the push toward open-source software. What we still find very heavy lift because it’s hard to explain and it’s legally difficult is the data sharing and data standards-setting that we need.
We’re about to do an executive order, for example, that I wrote not only to mandate radical inter-agency data sharing but to put myself in charge. Any time somebody wants to build any component that faces the public or interacts with the public, they have to come to us for the standards by which they do so and they have to develop an API first strategy.
The speed, the cost-sharing, and the ability to engage in more agile transformation is something people are beginning to understand. Probably, in the interest of time easy is to appoint you to some other resources that are very useful on this topic.
Aside from pull requests, it’s also a political necessity if the municipal mayor and central government’s leader, the Premier in Taiwan’s case, is not the same political party. Actually, the Taipei mayor is a leader of opposition party.
In many cases, data sharing arrangements and open source is the only way politically, that they can collaborate on things like contact tracing. The great thing about open source collaboration is that it’s collaborating in a dictionary sense, you don’t have to love your collaborator but you can still collaborate with them.
It’s constructive criticism whenever the MPs of opposition party asks, “Why the Open StreetMaps community tells us your map of mosque rationing is a terrible data bias because you assume everyone on helicopter.” You had only measured in KM, kilometer distances between a person and the mosque available but in the rural places, they have to spend three hours blah, blah, blah.
Then the minister can say, “It’s an open API, due to something else, right? What would you like to do instead?” Then that they’re Flipster kind of interpolation around. They have the same data and API and standards as we do.
If they think this is bad, they must create something better. In this particular case, because the MP was a VP data analytics, false claims, she says something better. Then we implemented that on the central government in 24 hours.
There’s an existing open API pipeline that’s updated every 30 seconds almost paradoxically, the public servants in the central governments is not liable then, because we see the machines numbers the same time as the local people do.
We’re sorry that we didn’t do it well, but we are now committed to amplify your local innovations to a country scale in 24 hours and so on. That’s only possible because of open standards, API, and data.
I am sad that it’s ending, but it was actually a very interesting point, Audrey, that you ended on, because throughout the conversation, obviously we need both political will and democracy, and it’s not just about turning on making things digital.
I thank you very much and hopefully as we go through the process, I will be pinging you guys [laughs] separately to maybe help and work on some of the things that we’re working on in the Japanese government.
I think this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a big change and I want to make sure that we maximize the positive effects of this focus on digital and not squander it. Thanks again for your continued participation for joining us today. Don’t mind you have to travel.