Discussions with Jennifer Walker, Project Manager of VPUU Wazimap and Adi Eyal, Director of Open Up about their recent exploration into user stories.
Can you tell us a little about the new instance of Wazimap with VPUU?
Jen: Wazimap’s new instance includes new data, indicators and datasets on provisions in informal settlements. This information could be valuable to Municipalities (local government) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) as a planning tool. It will initially have data only for the Western Cape, eventually, the team would like to have information available for the whole country.
Is there existing data on informal settlement provisions?
Jen: Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading (VPUU) has some informal settlement provision data. In addition, some data is collected in the national census. However, we may have to create and source other datasets.
What is the process that goes into a project like this?
Adi: Chris the project owner was previously an avid Codebridge participant. He is also on the GIS mailing list with me. In the past, we chatted about Community Atlas. Chris noted that the official Informal Settlement (IS) data did not accurately represent the reality on the ground.
Discussions — external
Adi: When funding was available to Chris he approached us with his solution — a data repository for IS data.
Discussions — internal
Adi: We liked this project for two reasons, the first was it was an opportunity to add additional data to Wazimap. The second, as Wazimap is an open-source tool any enhancements made to it can be transferred across all Wazimaps, all while making a contribution to civic-tech.
Deciding on the team
We leveraged the skills of the team we had internally and through the OpenUp network. Lunga our developer had been working on Wazimap for a while. Jen had previously worked at OpenUp and knows how we work.
The Requirements workshop and the producing the Requirement document that will serve as a living repository of user stories for the project was produced through innovating how we sourced problem statements.
Adi: “If you don’t know, then do.”
Sourcing & Analysis
Jen: The next steps are finding the datasets surfaced during the workshop. Does the data et exist? Can we source it? Do we need to create it?
During the interview, Adi and Jen discussed following up with the participants to further source datasets. We will then analyse the datasets. For example, analysis of the data for different geographies.
Designing and Deploying
Jen: Designing and deploying are next based on what data we need to display and how we want to navigate through that information.
Adi: Currently implementing the design and data is ongoing. There is census data that Lunga can implement.
Jen: Lastly, there will be internal and external testing with stakeholders before it goes live.
Have you worked on a project like this before? If yes, what learnings were you able to apply to this project?
Adi: Earlier this year we innovated with Wazimap Samson. Matthew, our Creative director found and used Webflow which reduced our need for front end development.
Lunga: We are able to implement Matt’s designs with minimal CSS and HTML, and add it to our templates. It a bit of a manual process. But, it’s far quicker and we don’t have to build anything from scratch.
Can you tell us a little more about how you ran the Requirements workshop?
Adi: The main objective was to get user stories: The workshop was built around the statement. As an X, I would like to Y in order Z.
It was structured similar to an un-conference where participants work in groups that self-organized around different prompts.
The first part of the workshop is focussed on finding out who the stakeholders were by answering the question “As an X, I would like to use data in order to Y.
This surfaced a number of stakeholders, too many to expand on fully in this half-day workshop. We put up all the stakeholders and asked the group to vote among them. This way we found the top priority stakeholders. Resultantly, we ended up with five stakeholders.
In the second part of the workshop, the group selected 1 of the 5 stakeholders and answered “As that stakeholder, I would like to use data in order to Y. This part of the workshop focussed on the problem the stakeholders would be solving.
The group sessions were run according to the “law of two feet” — people knew they only could stay in groups if they were contributing and were if they were interested in the conversation. If this changed, they could move around and find another group.
In the last part of the workshop, groups worked to identify all the ingredients that their stakeholders would need to solve their problem. They did this by answering “As a stakeholder, I would like X, in order to solve my problem.
After clustering these completed problem statements we ended up with 12 user stories. Clustering was useful for two reasons, one it validated the problem statement and meant that value delivered per problem statement increased.
Challenges of the workshop
Jen: We surfaced a lot of information. However, working through the requirements, I’ve noticed that there is not a 1–1 relation between dataset need and problem identified. Rather, users said they required multiple datasets to solve their problems. This makes it difficult to prioritize datasets.
Adi: We can validate dataset needs with the specific stakeholders that were identified. For example, we did not have a Community Leader in the group even though they were recognised as a stakeholder. This is bound to happen as you can’t have all users represented in a random sample that participates in a workshop.
What does success look like on this project?
Adi: Developing the tool of course. I’m excited about community development. The approach taken with acquiring the user stories created a community around the tool and project. The community can be tapped during development to support the project. The work we did with them now is an investment as down the line they can be users of the tool.
Jen: Delivering a high-quality tool. As we have the living repository, if at a later stage additional funding is attracted to the project, we can explore other user personas and it validates the work we did now.
We would like to thank everyone who participated in the Requirements workshops. Your input was invaluable. We look forward to creating this project with you.
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