Improving Services Through Open Data: Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council

Uscreates
Uscreates
Jul 27, 2018 · 5 min read

Alongside this project with Kent County Council, Uscreates also worked with Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council around opening up data on careers, employment and education options to help young people make informed choices about where to study.

The tools from this project are listed below.

  1. User journey insight map

What is it?
This brings together all insight gathered as part of the user research for this project and presents it as a user journey, from beginning secondary school at age 11, to finishing formal education around aged 18 or 19. Insight related to learners in red, and quotations from learners is in orange. Insight from advisor interviews is in green. Across the top are “challenge briefs” — opportunities to affect the service using data open data. We also include a user journey for one learner to show how this feels for the individual.

How can it be used?
This user journey can be used by other local authorities to help decide where they might want to intervene to tackle similar challenges. This insight chimes with much in the recently-published National Careers Strategy, indicating that the insight may be transferable to other areas. It may help individuals make the case to undertake their own piece of user research, and also offer a guide to the kinds of questions local authorities might wish to pose learners and advisors.

Download here.

2. Triple Track Double Diamond

What is it?

This is a project process diagram that reflects the triple track approach taken in this project: to examine, in parallel, user need, the data available, and the wider stakeholder landscape. It allowed the project team to move at pace, base ideas on real user need, and bring partners on board. Combined with the twice divergent and convergent “double diamond” from service design, this process balanced creativity with evidence, rigour, and understanding local context and constraints.

How can it be used?

This tool will be helpful for other local authorities wishing to undertake a ‘place-based’ data a design project that requires stakeholder buy-in alongside user research and creativity. It gives examples of the kinds of activities that could happen at each stage, supported by other tools and templates. It could be used as a planning document when scheduling activities on similar projects, and also to communicate with stakeholders how data, user research and stakeholder engagement combine as part of a place-based data and design project.

Download here.

3. A data scan

What is it?

This is a spreadsheet used in the early stages of the process to gather together all data sources that relate to the challenge area, assess their format, openness, and key variables. This work was undertaken by the Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council team, and also served as a learning tool to help understand the differences between open and closed data, and available data on PDFs versus data in CSV format, etc.

How can it be used?

This spreadsheet can be used for any project on any topic where there is a large amount of data and/or information that is available for use, potentially relevant for the challenge or problem being tackled, but is not fully understood or been used before as part of a similar project. It is particularly helpful as a way of reframing how people think about open data and its uses (and the limitations of closed or half-closed data).

Download here

4. A data card

What is it?

Data cards are a way of presenting the information collected during the data scan that is easy to digest and understand for non-expert participants. They give enough information about the data to inform the creative process, focusing on key variables, its value, and the degree of openness.

How can it be used?

Data cards are useful as part of the creative process, and particularly helpful in co-design workshops. If printed small (A5 of A6) they can also be used as part of the data segmentation tool, or for attaching to other templates.

Download here.

5. A data segmentation

What is it?

This tool helps understand all data collected and analysed as part of a data scan to quickly verify and assess how useful it is to the problem area, and dismiss data that is either not useful or too closed / unavailable. It as two axes — usefulness and openness.

How can it be used?

This segmentation should be used in similar projects with a large amount of data sources as a way of focusing on which data to prioritise and take forward to co-design and prototyping. By examining two axes of usefulness and openness in such a visual way, it is an effective way of engaging the project team around data, even if they are not data experts.

Download here

6. Personas

What is it?

These personas are composite pictures of learners and advisors in Doncaster, based on insight generated through user research.

How can it be used?

Personas are used in service design as a way of focusing creative activity on one or more users. They are also a way of bringing to life insight for co-design, and were used in this project during workshops. These personas are Doncaster-specific, but could be easily adapted to incorporate insight from other areas as part of a similar place based data and design project on careers information, advice and guidance. The headings could also be used as a guide for creating different kinds of personas in other projects.

Download here

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