Making government technology suck less in Miami

Learn how you can participate in Miami’s first Civic User Testing Group

Code for Miami, a recipient of a 2016 Knight Cities Challenge, has launched CUTGroup Miami, a 16-month pilot program based off of Smart Chicago Collaborative’s successful initiative based in Chicago and Detroit. The Civic User Testing Group — or CUTGroup, for short — provides website and app testing by diverse residents who provide actionable, real-world user feedback to improve municipal and civic technology in Miami-Dade County with the goal of making interaction with local government easier for everyone.

The tagline of the CUTGroup says it all: “if it doesn’t work for you, it doesn’t work.”

The Challenge

The idea of building an environment that encourages civic technology in Miami-Dade County can be taunting, to say the least. There are multiple challenges going on here:

  • First off, there is Miami, the city, and Miami-Dade, the county. While only 400,000 people live in the city of Miami, 2.6 million live in the county, the 7th large metropolitan area in the nation. Even though the county offers its own set of resident services, people often refer to one, when they really mean the other. Try building tech for that.
  • The county is large, area-wise. With a surface area of 2,431 square miles, it’s literally just a large chunk of southeastern Florida.
  • We live in one of the most diverse areas of the United States. 51% of all Miami-Dade County residents are foreign-born, the highest percentage in the country.
  • A 2011 report by the Center for Democracy and Citizenship famously gave Miami the lowest civic engagement percentage of all large cities.
  • We have a growing tech community, spurred by our high rates of entrepreneurialism, but concepts such as User Experience and User Research are new.

So. How might we help facilitate the building of local civic technology services for the benefit of all who live in Miami-Dade County?

How CUTGroup Miami works

The CUTGroup Miami website.

Miami-Dade County residents who are interested in testing websites and apps sign up through the website. They receive a $5 VISA gift card in the mail for registering as a Civic User Tester. The website is accessible in English, Spanish, and Haitian Creole, and we need applicants of all demographics to apply.

We hope to work with different sets of partners to produce a design test every month. The CUTGroup will send out an eligibility form, and selected registrants will then participate in user testing sessions at community centers and libraries as well as online. Those who help in a testing session will receive an extra $20 VISA gift card upon the completion of testing.

Our purpose for this project is twofold:

  • We want to increase the amount of user feedback for apps and websites designed by cities.
  • We want to increase community citizen engagement by testing apps and websites be easy to use.

User testing allows us to voice our concerns and offer feedback as cities build technology for their residents. Our goal is to make it easier for citizens to interact with local government, and we’d love your help making this project a success. How, you might ask? Simple: Know a local community or government organization we can partner with? How about a local website or app that could use some help by local residents? Let us know.

And of course, if you live in Miami-Dade County, sign up to participate in the CUTGroup if you haven’t done so already. It takes less than five minutes to do.