Luke Closs is a Vancouver-based web developer and co-creator of VanTrash, a civic app that notifies residents of local trash pickup schedules and won the “People’s Choice Award” in British Columbia’s “Apps for Climate Action” contest. Luke was recently interviewed on Gov 2.0 Radio, and in this guest post he discusses the benefits of co-creation for government services.
An “ideas pipeline” is analogous to a sales pipeline – you have a lot of leads, and as you qualify them your pipeline gets smaller but more valuable. This really highlights how open source works well. Open source is great for allowing a lot of ideas emerge, some of them are great, some not so much.
This analogy is useful for people within governmental organizations to understand how they can help cultivate useful apps. At each step of that pipeline there are different actions they can take to help maximize the value coming out. Providing a forum for idea generation and sharing helps grow the inputs to the pipeline. Providing a forum for developers/designers/citizens to connect helps transform ideas into prototypes. Prototypes that are useful or interesting or novel can become projects. Keeping that community in contact and moving forward helps keep up excitement and interest in projects. Projects that prove to be useful become services used by hundreds or thousands of people. Recognizing and supporting these project teams is valuable.
Eventually services may become infrastructure, things that citizens expect to have. At this point, governments may chose to partner with the creators to ensure the infrastructure can be sustainable for all their citizens over the long term.
This really demonstrates the way that governments should leverage open source. They can get a huge amount of innovation around their data by providing support for ideas, teams and projects that prove themselves to be successful.
Contrast this with the traditional, old-school way that governments rolled out services in the past. They paid for all ideas, successful or not.