Wittin is a strong proponent of Open Government. We believe in government that is engaged with its citizens. And we believe that the way forward is for more citizens to be actively involved with their local public organizations. Wittin embodies these beliefs and helps organizations improve their services.
There are three major tenets of an Open Government: transparency, participation and collaboration. There isn’t a western government out their worth their salt that doesn’t have a transparency policy. Generally this is facilitated by open data. However the rhetoric is that since the data is available then people will participate. This doesn’t appear to be happening for several reasons:
- First the data is highly aggregated. There is nothing more frustrating to find a brilliant data set, such as bankruptcies in 2015, only to drill down and find you can only access an aggregate total number. It is not broken down by geography, company versus individual, gender or any other metric.
- Second the data is generally highly cleaned in a process which is time consuming and costly. This means that it is rare that data is updated more often than annually.
- Third just because something is available does not mean that people will beat a path to the ticket office. Remember Crystal Pepsi?
With these occurring it makes it difficult to cultivate participants. If you don’t have participants it follows that it is impossible to collaborate.
So Stirling Council has this very issue with their own data. They are collecting significant amounts every day, but have limited ability to discover, analyse and devise actionable insights from their building resource. Their foresight into addressing this challenge and wisdom in partnering with Wittin has led to the development of our offering.
Like most councils Stirling does not have a full understanding of what its customers want, nor how well the council is seen to respond. This is not helped by the varying ways they record their interactions across the organisation. So how can they change things, and use what data they do have to improve their services?
Common challenges that exist throughout the public sector are a lack of knowledge of what data exists throughout an organization. A lack of knowledge about the value of the data they hold. Little understanding of what can be done to extract that value. And finally no resources to rectify these challenges.
Wittin’s offering rectifies these problems through the application of a community of data literate individuals offering various level of expertise towards mapping data, extracting data, understanding what exists, analysing what is there, visualising and defining challenges as well as offering solutions.
The innovation in Wittin’s approach is in the application of a community of citizen scientists to public sector problems. The creation of this community is a feat in itself. We are currently working with individuals who have created online communities as well as communities of data scientists to help us devise strategies that will build this community into a pool large enough to always have the skills and resources available to offer expertise back to our clients on demand.
Our community is structured in tiers from a large base of public citizens, through groupings that include NDAs, training levels, vetting and contractual employees. This allows are community to have tiered access to data and information from within a public sector organisation. Within the community there are then also projects that can be rallied around, much like happens in open source software development. A group of individuals can choose to put their time into projects that are focused around education or environmental issues. The diversity in experience and viewpoint will bring new and novel ideas into the mix of public sector service delivery.
Our intention is to take our service and put unsolvable problems in our cross airs. Then through a succession of small specific actionable insights developed within our community we work our way towards solving these unsolvable problems. Imagine a local council solving Zero Waste council wide, or better still 100% customer satisfaction.
Ultimately as the tool grows and more clients come on board, there is more data to analyse and the unsolvable problems we can tackle scale in response. What about a Scotland without illiteracy, without homelessness, or just imagine, could we tackle the large issues like banning Nickleback?