Innovation in Government

Superpublic – Innovation Space for Goverment Academia and Industry

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Future of Gov

superpublic logo

SUPERPUBLIC is an Innovation Lab and collaborative space in San francisco city where federal, state, and city government come together with academia and the private sector to address policy and regulatory issues.

SUPERPUBLIC is the USA’s first collaborative workspace and Innovation Lab to provide a neutral space where the private sector, the public sector, nonprofits, and academia can come together and work to solve urban problems.

SUPERPUBLIC’s founding team includes the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Civic Innovation, City Innovate Foundation, and General Services Administration, and UC Berkeley.  Additional partners in this effort include the Center for Design Research at Stanford University and MIT Media Lab.

The goal of SUPERPUBLIC is to do work that benefits a network of 100 inclusive metros. This network consists of cities, state, regional, and federal government officials committed to work together to solve urban problems, share best practices, and build capacity to test, learn, and pilot emerging technologies.

Focus areas:

  • Digital Services in Government
  • Urban Mobility
  • Changing Models for Procurement

The Concept of Superpublic originated  from France  where innovation teams from several French regions and government agencies work together.

  • Superpublic is the first space ever entirely devoted to innovation in the public sector.
  • To reinvent the way in which public policy is designed and implemented, free zones where it’s possible and encouraged to think out of the box are needed – open and neutral resource spaces with the capacity to reunite outstanding capabilities in public innovation. That’s what Superpublic is all about.
  • Covering an area of 300 square meters, Superpublic is designed and equipped to conduct creative design workshops, develop prototypes for innovating projects, organize encounters, set up specialized training sessions and share resources and workspace in a collaborative approach.
  • A space for co-working
  • Superpublic welcomes, on a full-time basis, both public and private structures that devote their activity to public innovation.
  • Superpublic’s purpose is to allow all disciplines, capabilities and public and private structures involved in transforming public policy to meet with each other and to interact.

How about a Phone Service for the Hearing Impaired

Modernised National Relay Service (For hearing impaired) – Australian Example which India needs.

Around 6% population of India suffers from some hearing difficulty, making it one of the countries with the highest number of hearing impaired. Of these, one in 1,000 people are born with hearing defect, while one in 10,000 children have a structural anomaly, rendering their ears too small to be able to hear well. <source>

 

relay service australia

The NRS is an Australian Government initiative funded by a levy on eligible telecommunications carriers.

The NRS consists of:

  • a Relay Service Provider which runs the call centre where relay officers relay your calls to other people, and
  • an Outreach Service Provider which runs the outreach service to provide a Helpdesk, and education and information activities which support awareness, training and use of the NRS.

You can type and read your conversation entirely via a TTY or via internet relay on a computer or mobile phone. Depending on your particular requirements, the relay officer can become “your voice” and read out your conversation to the other person. The relay officer can also listen to the response and type it back for you to read.

The privacy of all parties is respected and all calls are treated confidentially.

Following a competitive tender process, the Telecommunications Universal Service Management Agency (TUSMA) signed – in February 2013 – new contracts with Australian Communication Exchange and WestWood Spice to deliver the National Relay Service (NRS). The Government’s aim throughout this process was to ensure that a broad range of technologies was used to provide efficient services to those that need it most.

The improved NRS will enable hearing and speech impaired people to:

· For the first time, use SMS to contact emergency service organisations

· Make and receive phone calls through a new two-way internet relay service

· Access all NRS services through a new application available on smart-phone and other internet-enabled devices

· Access a video relay service, which will be available between 7am and 6pm on business days

· Use a web-based service that provides captioned telephony for the hearing impaired

Regulatory changes will be required for a number of these initiatives, they are expected to be in place by the time the new NRS contract begins on 1 July. This will allow new services to be progressively introduced as soon as possible in the second half of 2013.

The NRS will continue to provide its existing teletypewriter (TTY) and speech services 24-hours a day, every day of the year, as well as its extensive training and education services.

http://relayservice.com.au/

Want to Innovate in Government–Overcome these seven challenges

innovation in government

(Photo credit)

If you are an Officer in Government  who wants to find a solution to a challenge or address a pain point in his working, he turns to technology to derive a solution. But not all initiatives reach a critical milestone or scale up to full fledged solutions. Despite the passion to make a difference why only a few of the efforts work and produce outcomes. To understand this you can find out which among the following is the challenge you face and find a solution accordingly. Here we go.

1. More often than not rules prevent Officers from trying out something new. One gets punished if something goes wrong but nothing is done if one doesn’t even perform at normal levels. When ever you discuss a possible solution to a problem the common reply you will get is “ there is no provision for that”. You have to actually convince those who matter that what you say is actually doable and it is worth doing it.

2. Funding a pilot is hard because there is no earmarked scheme or source kept for new projects. Most of the time innovative projects are difficult to be justified under existing norms because the basic aim of innovation is to redefine the norms and improve them. The funding authority may not believe that your solution will actually help. Or worse she may think “why the hell should I do this?” . So it leads to point no. 1.

3. One has to depend on specialized departments which are not always enthusiastic about your demand for their resources. You are not a priority to them. The mandated departmentally approved project is. For example if I want to use a particular Content Management System (CMS) to manage my Office website its not possible for a variety of reasons. Here are some:

    • The server is windows based, so the open source Linux based CMS will not be compatible.
    • Maintenance of all websites have been contracted off to an agency so you need to contact them to make any changes. It will take you two days and ten phone calls to just reach the agency.
    • You can make your own website and update but we will not provide official domain names.
    • If you want to install your own system it has to be security audited but we will not make it easy to do it.
    • There is no policy for updation by the user office. Make a written request to the IT department. Most probably you will get a reply that it cant be done stating one of the reasons above.

4. Innovation is seen as something happening is special labs and dedicated institutions and incubators. Rather innovation is a natural and evolutionary phenomenon that happens everyday and everywhere in the organization. The need is to identify, pick and scale the right innovation that contributes to the achievement of organizational objectives. The answer: Evangelize your idea and work like a Govpreneur.

5. Lack of sharing and collaboration leads to multiple reinvention of wheel. On a given issue there are multiple experiments and innovations going on all over the country and the knowledge and experience are not shared. So everyone moves from 0 to 10 on a given issue, but nobody takes a 10 and makes it 15.

For example Many states are working on reducing dropout rates and tracking a child throughout school years with multiple projects going on simultaneously. There is no visible effort to cumulate the results and pick the best features of each approach and find the best model. Its even difficult to find out if any such project is happening elsewhere.

6. Connecting with the right people is a challenge. For example when an officer wants to explore and adopt opengov ideas and open data practices his IT department may not have the expertise or interest in such an initiative. And technology experts who are interested in such issues discuss in closed email groups and forums. So finding and accessing their expertise is difficult and when it happens, it is more a coincidence than a thoughtful effort.

7. Even if anyone succeeds in creating a worthwhile solution by working with a technical partner you cannot contract work to the  partner to directly because the financial rules come into play. One cannot favor a partner just because he has worked to create a solution for you. Then why would a private organization/person commit resources/time for you.

Most of these challenges are small but can make your next big idea remain just an idea. Once you start putting time and effort on an issue you will encounter a modified version of the challenges discussed. One needs to still work at it because all innovations in any walk of life was made by those who dared to dream and worked at it consistently no matter what. Consistency beats all odds. Good luck.