Digital Inclusion Design Jam — Part 1: The Process

Ed Blayney
May 16, 2019 · 6 min read

This is a multi-part series to document the process, ideas, and results of our Digital Inclusion Design Jam with IxDA Louisville.

Part 1 goes into detail what we did and the research insights we uncovered leading up to the Design Jam.

Part 2 documents the ideas that came out of the process.

Subsequent posts will talk about what we do with the research and ideas, and how that impacted digital inclusion in Louisville.

But, first a little about the Digital Divide In Louisville

At Louisville Metro Government, we have been working hard to close the digital divide in Louisville. If you are just learning about our efforts, check out this links to learn more about the problem and the steps we are taking to solve them:

About the Digital Inclusion Design Jam

The resulting work is the culmination of an eight-month process started in August 2018 when Matt Dobson, Becki Hyde, Matt Gotth-Olsen, and I sat down to talk about how designers might be able to help us with our digital inclusion work . We decided that IxDA and Louisville Metro should team up to research and document the stakeholders experience with the digital divide in Louisville and co-create potential solutions that could be implemented in our work. And, additionally, because of our relationship with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, we could present our findings to a national organization that could help spread the impact of our local work.

We chose the design jam format because it would allow us to bring together a large group of people to co-create solutions in a short period of time. But, even though we planned on a one-day blowout event, there was a lot of leg-work that had to go into it. Our Design Jam with IxDa differed from our hackathons with our local Code for America Brigade in that there was a lot more prep work required for the design jam. Rather than creating a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) by the end of the day, we were going to create solutions based on personas, user needs, and journey maps. Basically, things that you can’t just make up. Creating them requires talking to people first and creating products second.

The results you see below represent volunteered time from over 20 IxDA members who committed nights and weekends to meet with various stakeholders in the digital inclusion ecosystem, and spent a beautiful Saturday in April creating solutions to make Louisville (and hopefully other communities) more digitally inclusive.


The Design Jam is an eight-step process (currently, we on Step 7)

Step 1: Prep work

Before we engaged the wider IxDA group, a core team started laying out the format for the Design Jam process and lined up research opportunities for the volunteers. This involved putting together research, project plans, data, and presentations for participants to dive into digital inclusion. In total, we scheduled 17 interviews and brought together over 20 documents to provide background to participants.

Step 2: Kick Off Meeting

Two months before the Design Jam, we held a kick off meeting with IxDA members. At the meeting, we talked about the digital divide in Louisville and what Louisville Metro is doing to address it. We also outlined the process for participating in the Design Jam and our estimated time commitment. Finally, we had people sign up for the various research opportunities with digital inclusion stakeholders.

Step 3: Research/Interviews

Volunteers met with various stakeholders from those digitally excluded in our community to front-line employees helping close the digital divide everyday to strategic leaders. We tried to schedule different engagement opportunities such as scheduled interviews, low-cost sign-up events, and public computer lab hours. Some of the research opportunities worked better than others, but we were able to reach a critical mass of participants to develop valuable insights.

Step 4: Research Synthesis

After all of the research opportunities were concluded, all the volunteers got back together to share what they learned both about the participants and the challenges the digital divide presents to them in their daily life. It followed a structured process where each researcher shared a little bit about the people they talked to and the insights they got from the interview, while they were sharing these insights, other participants were writing down “How might we…” challenge statements (HMW) to figure out the questions that we needed to answer in the Design Jam. After each group shared their insight, we affinitized the various HMW into groups or challenge areas to inform the big ideas that we needed to tackle at the design jam.

Step 5: Design Jam Prep

We took all of ideas from the research synthesis and distilled them into artifacts for the Design Jam. This included making the Challenge Statements and User Personas for the event.

Step 6: Design Jam

Eight-hour event to turn all of our hard-earned insights into action. We started the day with a recap of the research phase by sharing the refined insights, and then followed a structured process to develop actionable ideas for Louisville or other cities to take on the digital divide.

Step 7: Design Jam Follow Up

Our current state, we are compiling all of the work done by participants into a recommendations and action steps. And, are documenting the process and findings so that others can follow them.

Step 8: Presentation of Findings

At the end of this extensive process, we are going to make recommendations to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance around design changes in the Digital Inclusion eco-system needed to close the digital divide. And, Louisville Metro will start to find opportunities to implement these ideas in whole or parts in our own community.

Research Insights

Here are some of the things that we learned from the research phase of the Design Jam. This insights helped us understand who we were creating for and the challenges that we needed to solve.



Next Steps

Right now, I am archiving the information developed during the design jam (there is a lot of info to document!). I want to make sure that we have a historical record of the work. The documentation will help us develop new strategic initiatives developed to fix the holes in the digital inclusion system identified and will guide our strategic planning as we move forward. Working in the space for a few years, you start to understand the challenges, but we have never documented the issues or done such extensive research on the issue. The work completed by IxDA captured the things we knew, confirmed ideas we assumed were true, and uncovered new insights that we would not have found on our own.

Along with compiling the work, we will begin to put together specific recommendations for the National Digital Inclusion Alliance to help them move the larger Digital Inclusion movement forward. This is the first time that a large group of designers have taken on digital divide in a robust way. There are a lot of specific insights that can help them advocate for change inside the movement or even just help new communities get started on their own. For example, I imagine our user personas are pretty like most other communities in the United States so someone just getting started will have a better idea what programs they need to develop to get started rather than trying to compile potential redundant research on their own.

So, next steps are spreading what we learned and making accessible to the digital inclusion community in Louisville and beyond.

Check out Part 2 to see the ideas that came out of the Design Jam

Thanks to Grace Simrall

Ed Blayney

Written by

@OPI2Lou #iteam project manager, #localgov, #smartcity, #mobility,#digitalinclusion, #civictech, wannabe policy wonk #Veteran #RollTide #TarHeel

Louisville CIT

The official publication for Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Civic Innovation and Technology (CIT) in Louisville, KY

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