DCC Beta Report 2016
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It is really phenomenal what you have achieved. Everything you have done has been meticulously documented, communicated and comprehensively evaluated – everything is put on the web for transparency. This doesn’t take five minutes. [Citizen]
I’ve been following the blog for roughly 3 years and have been hugely impressed by the work undertaken and open dialogue. I very much hope this is the beginning of something bigger and more exciting. [Citizen]
I feel the Beta Projects have the potential to keep important issues moving in times where there may not be funding available. [Councillor]
Contents 1. Executive Summary
2. Background and Context
3. Lessons and Insights
3.1 Key Outputs
3.1 Key Inputs
3.3 Key Benefits
3.4 Key Reflections
4. DCC Beta Recommendations
Execuve summary Dublin City Council wishes to develop new approaches to innova on and the be er management of change within Dublin. To achieve this, DCC needs a consistent and cost-effec ve approach to trialling and experimen ng with new ideas, process and services while building learning from these experiments into future implementa on. Dublin City Council Beta (DCC Beta) aims to be the experimenta on and learning face of Dublin City Council. It is a model and process of trialling, assessing and implemen ng ways to improve the experience of life in the Capital and provides a plaorm through which individual "Beta Projects" can be implemented. It began as a City Architects trial in 2012, was corporately adopted in 2015, and has run for 3.5 years. During that me 14 Beta Projects were developed, 6 of which are currently being scaled and 1 is now 'out of beta' and being implemented by the relevant sec ons. The projects also supported the development and tes ng of the DCC Beta model and approach. DCC Beta has demonstrated a be er way of managing risk and our limited resources, has received a hugely posi ve recep on and has created a valuable brand for the City Council.
DCC Beta’s direct expenditure, not including staff costs, over the 3.5 year period was €17,500 (including VAT). The key inputs covered the following areas:
Beta Projects of various themes and scales were developed. DCC Beta has demonstrated evidence-based trialling and decision making within the City.
DCC Beta brand and communicaon channels DCC Beta Report 2016 : 4
Beta Projects implemented
Beta Projects being scaled
A systemac methodolgy and innovaon ecosystem
Benefits The response to DCC Beta among DCC staff across mul ple sec ons has been very posi ve. DCC Beta has provided a cost effec ve way to manage risk by trying out new solu ons, building an internal working group, building an evidence base and winning support from ci zens, businesses and councillors.
Adversing Equivalent Value : Project Spend
Increasing producvity and staff morale
Followers on social media channels
Posive external percepon (ie cizens, businesses, councillors, media)
Recommendaons The recomenda ons cover staff, opera onal structure, monitoring and evalua on and prior sing projects.
A number of key staffing requirements have been idenfied. This includes developing a core staff for DCC Beta and more flexible teams that can deliver Beta Projects.
It is essenal that DCC Beta has core funding. The budget should be able to be scaled through various means such as co-financing, match funding and contracted services.
BeÂ†er align DCC and DCC Beta. For example, senior management input on City Challenges and linking with Smart Dublin to further develop beÂ†er collecon of evidence and debate about issues arising.
DCC Beta has developed and demonstrated a beÂ†er process for making evidence-based decisions, the use of strategic design tools and methods, and an excellent overall return on investment. Based on the experiences of delivering DCC Beta to date, there is sufficient evidence to warrant invesng in and scaling up the approach within Dublin City Council. DCC Beta Report 2016 : 5
DCC Beta Report 2016 : 6
2. Background and context
Dublin City Council (DCC) is facing significant challenges. These challenges include how to: 1. deliver core services while at the same time meet growing demands on service capacity and quality 2. optimise the use of existing assets 3. enhance staff morale and our ability to recruit the right people 4. achieve DCC’s vision for Dublin DCC must meet these challenges while at the same time negotiating the interests of citizens, businesses, elected councillors and central government. Because of this, DCC wishes to find a way to easily and freely discuss ideas, to innovate and better manage change. To achieve this Dublin City Council needs to able to experiment and then learn from those experiments which then inform the final project delivery.
DCC Beta With this in mind, DCC Beta was developed as a live mechanism for trialling, assessing and implementing ways to improve the experience of life in the Capital. DCC Beta set out to act as the experimentation and learning face of Dublin City Council. DCC Beta began as a City Architects ‘10% innovation time’ staff project in 2012, and later became a full City Architects project in 2014. In January 2015 it was formalised at Dublin City Council corporate level.
Beta Projects DCC Beta provides the platform through which a number of individual “Beta Projects” can be delivered. These Beta Projects act as trials and experiments to explore
key issues that DCC is seeking to understand, enabling us to better learn and develop exemplar solutions that can be implemented across the city.
‘Beta’ The phrase “in beta” is often used in the design and digital industry to describe a piece of work that is in early stages of development and is being released early so that it can benefit from some real-world testing and feedback. The concept of the innovation ecosystem was therefore established as “Dublin City Council Beta” or “DCC Beta”. Also, rather than rely on phrases such as “trial”, “prototype” or “pilot”, the individual projects managed or supported by DCC Beta are called “Beta Projects”. This enables us to maintain a consistent brand (ethos and visual identiy) that makes clear that something is an experiment and not an established policy. It also conveys that it will follow an associated systematic methodology for which the ultimate aim is implementation of evidence-based good ideas. This protects the City Council while Beta Projects are being delivered but also provides staff with the freedom to experiment.
Principles of the DCC Beta approach The challenges identified by DCC Beta are not unique to Dublin City or Dublin City Council as cities all over the world are grappling with similar issues. A number of existing ‘city innovation’ and ‘co-creation’ platforms here and in other cities focus on suggestions from citizens that are submitted to (or through) local government for further development.
DCC Beta Report 2016 : 7
These solutions typically require an additional ‘pressure source’ such as the personal interest of a directlyelected mayor or very senior staff member to be implemented. DCC Beta takes a different approach in that it seeks to initially develop an ‘innovation ecosystem’ within Dublin City Council which would enable staff to become accustomed to the idea of experimentation and evidence-based learning within the council. This will be supplemented at a later date by greater levels of citizen and business involvement. A key aspect of DCC Beta is that it gives staff a way of approaching a problem differently than they would do for “business as usual” by providing staff with the capacity and clear roadmap to innovate in a controlled manner. This overcomes resistance or barriers to change and ensures the resilience of the solutions that are developed.
Characteristics of Beta Projects 1. Action-based and Evidence-based - Demonstrate by quickly creating a trial and then measuring results to test assumptions. 2. Lean Resourcing - Trial only for as long as is required to test assumptions. Only make solutions ‘as big’ as they need to be to test the idea. 3. Reversible and Flexible - Solutions should be designed to allow for learning and change. 4. Sustainable and Resilient - Create a solution that is able to sustain itself over time, and is also resilient to shocks. 5. Scalable or Transferable - Consider how to widen the return on any investment or use of an asset.
Questions explored by DCC Beta Through DCC Beta, Can Dublin City Council.... 1. Make Dublin City Council and Dublin City thrive not just survive? 2. Find a way to change much, much, faster as a City…thinking in decades and centuries, but changing over months and years? 3. Develop more transparent, evidence-based, decision-making processes – which enable citizens to have much greater input into their city? 4. Tap into the diverse wealth of local and expert knowledge that exists outside Dublin City Council – whether individual citizens or other organisations? 5. Develop a clear system to enable us to quickly and efficiently progress our internal work practices and business models, to better use our existing assets, and to diversify the City Council’s income streams? 6. Better demonstrate the huge value of the public sector? 7. Improve the capacity of staff to innovate and provide them the capacity and roadmap to do so in a controlled environment? 8. Improve the2016 systematic accumulation of internal knowledge which can be shared efficiently across DCC Beta Report :8 innovative projects and teams?
DCC Beta Report 2016 : 9
DCC Beta Report 2016 : 10
3. Lessons and insights
This Report provides a formal review of DCC Beta to date. The Report presents an overview of the process, key outcomes, findings and recommendations from the delivery of DCC Beta. The focus is on the overall delivery of DCC Beta rather than on the individual Beta Projects. In addition to this, the Report seeks to provide a baseline to enable and assess future development as well as providing a resource for others considering developing a public sector innovation lab or equivalent.
The DCC Beta approach has shown that it is possible to temporarily implement projects in the city in order to support pre-implementation evaluation, better public engagement and to better manage risk.
3.1 Key Outputs
This is different to the traditional approach whereby every eventuality is attempted to be worked out in advance. A key risk associated with this traditional approach is that the learning gained after any delays or failures will typically be more expensive than if that learning had occurred during a small-scale trial.
Between 2012 and 2016 (3.5 years), Beta Projects of various themes and scales were developed. DCC Beta has demonstrated a path to creating a culture of evidence-based trialling and decision making within the City Council, and provides a better platform for staff to solve challenges or explore opportunities. During this period DCC Beta has: 1. Developed and tested an initial process for trialling and experimenting with new and innovative projects that can be implemented by Dublin City Council. 2. Implemented 14 Beta Projects, 6 of which are currently at various stages of scaling by different sections of the Council. 3. One Beta Project is now â€˜out of betaâ€™ and being deployed by Dublin City Council. 4. Developed a brand with minimal investment that is now recognised by many Dublin citizens and by public sector innovation experts internationally. 5. Developed a set of qualitative and quantitative metrics for monitoring and evaluating Beta Projects. 6. Successfully secured corporate adoption of the DCC Beta approach.
DCC Beta has enabled a process of continual learning, reflection and evaluation which result in better insights and data on which a later project brief, or a tender, can be based. By creating new and tangible interfaces between DCC and its stakeholders, every Beta Project has demonstrated the DCC commitment to listen, engage, assess and to change. Report Cards of two of the individual Beta Projects can be viewed online at www.dccbeta.ie. Extracts from some of these Report Cards are presented on the following pages.
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Recommendations Locations for hangars Siting of Hangars A radio discussion on Matt Cooper’s Today FM show about this particular Beta Project very much focussed on the question of hangar location. (You can listen from 11.50 for 4mins with Conor Faughnan representing the Automobile Association and Shane Foran representing the Galway Cycling Campaign.) “The bike hangars are not a bad idea...but why take a parking space? Are the people behind this actually taking up a parking space, almost in an act of spite? It is not necessary to displace a car space to do it.” “Is there potential for taking lots of vacant buildings and setting them up as large bicycle shelters?” There is no reason as to why hangars could not be pavement-‐mounted instead of carriageway-‐mounted, other than considering the width of the local pavements and convenience for people walking, and also local placemaking (eg a portion of wider pavement might provide some other local community resource such as accommodating a bench or tree).
Dublin City Council Beta Projects
(Example of Bike hangars in Rotterdam which can be found both on pavements and on carriageways, depending on the local conditions – such as the local pavement widths being wide enough.)
Report Card: Bike Hangar
One of the primary reasons for people cycling is convenience, and so one assumption being tested by this trial was that the hangar would only be considered useful by participants if it was close to where they lived. (Hangars add security for bicycles, and also keeps them out of the elements, but also can add 2-‐3 minutes by the time users walk to the hangar, unlock the hangar, unlock their bicycle, and then relock the hangar…and the same on their return. Adding a few minutes to a trip may not sound like much, but consider that the average Dublin Bike trip is only 16 minutes long, or that a 10 minute walk to a shop would only be about a 3 -‐4 minute cycle.) Considering the residential function (ie it needs to be near your home if it is to be a useful solution at all) and the generally low-‐density nature of Dublin’s residential (including city centre) areas, it would be highly unlikely that high-‐density parking solutions in vacant buildings would be a scalable solution to any degree. Useful Catchment Area Of the 6 participants, 3 of them lived 15m away, 2 of them lived 50m away, and 1 lived 125m away. 125m equates to a 1½ minute walk (plus a couple of minutes for unlocking as described above) and it is interesting that that particular trial participant commented that… “I used the bike hanger intermittently in the time it was on the street. It was about 100m from my front door but in the wrong direction from where I would normally be heading, on wet winter's morning this feels much further. I mostly used the hanger when I was not using the bike for a few days. If it was closer to the house I would definitely use it daily.” [trial participant] Whilst bearing in mind that it’s a single voice, this might begin to inform discussion around a maximum useful distance for locating a residential bike hangar from a keyholder. It would also match Hackney Borough Council’s (London) policy of prioritising a hangar to residents within 100m of the hangar. Hangar Details: Opening/Closing the Lid: The hangar supplier warned us that the lid would be stiff to begin with, and would then become easier to use. One of the participant’s comments reflects that…
15.1.15: First use today, very straightforward to use. I found I needed the strength of my 2 arms to pull hangar down to close so it was convenient to be able to lean my bike on the adjacent wall behind me while doing so.
#BikeHangarBeta Report Card 1.1 (Iteration.ReportCardVersion)
#BikeHangarBeta Report Card 1.1 (BetaProjectIteration.ReportCardVersion)
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Proposition: In a similar way that businesses can apply to put tables and chairs on the pavement, might we also enable them to apply to use car parking spaces in a similar way? This idea is called a “parklet” and this Beta Project is exploring whether Dublin City should develop a “parklets” policy. Beta Project Stage This Beta Project is at the policy trial stage, and so was focussed on whether we should have a citywide policy, rather than how we might deliver such a policy.
Dublin City Council Beta Projects
Report Card: Street Parklet, Iteration 2
Trial Size/Extent: 1 parklet, in 1 parking bay.
Trial Period & Duration: End May 2015 – Start Sept 2015, 3 months. Cost: This trial cost €4700 including full design, fabrication, installation and removal by Dublin City Council’s Joinery Workshop. The parklet element itself was designed for reuse if further trials are required. Social media results: Search #StreetParkletBeta
Trial Description: A first iteration of this concept was originally trialled on Capel Street outside the Black Sheep pub for a period of 2 weeks. Following up on the outcomes from that first trial, this second iteration was temporarily installed on South William Street in one of the parking bays next to Clement & Pekoe café. It helped people visualise the idea, and sit, chat and enjoy the street. Importantly it also helps us to better see what practical issues or opportunities might arise and inform any possible parklet policy. Largely fabricated offsite, it took approximately 2 hours to erect and 1 hour to dismantle, and was both installed and removed early on Sunday mornings in order to minimise impact on passersby or businesses.
We teamed up with DublinTown in relation to liaising with the various neighbouring businesses. The nearby Clement & Pekoe café were linked with the parklet and swept it in the mornings and watered the plants as necessary. Location: Here on South William Street, Dublin 2. This location was chosen partly as the first iteration of this trial required a larger volume of feedback from a busier location.
The nearest parking space to the Clement & Pekoe café was still about 10m away from their business, and was outside another business called the Hideout – a BYOB pool and snooker hall.
DCC Beta Report 2016 : 12 #StreetparkletBeta Report Card 2.1 (Iteration.ReportCardVersion)
Appendix 1: The metrics measured, and results.
Appendix 2: Photos and video of the trial during the period. #StreetparkletBeta Report Card 2.1 (Iteration.ReportCardVersion)
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23.1.15: I'm finding that i only need one hand to close it now, not sure whether that's down to me getting more used to it or the mechanism becoming less rigid with use/warmth or a bit of both!
Participants mentioned that they had to use two hands to both open and close the lid, and so needed to meanwhile lean their bicycle nearby. Perhaps adding a wheel-‐holder to the hangars (similar to the below street bicycle pump) would be a useful addition.
This, combined with the height that the lid rises to when open, likely may imply that children, or the elderly, or those with some physical disabilities, may not be suitable keyholders. “The lid isn't the easiest to lift (no problem for me but may be for others)” [Trial Participant] “May be slightly heavy for kids/ older people to lift the door.” [Trial Participant] “Here's a safer (and cheaper version per bike) than the bike Hangar which has fundamental flaws, most obviously a heavy door which could smash someone's head if it falls on them! I hope you DO trial safer designs, and quick, before a child gets their head injured or fingers trapped by the door on a Cycle Hangar.”
As a cheap and simple way to address night-‐time visibility concerns, we applied additional reflective stickers to the hangar on both of the short sides, and also on the long side facing the roadway (as it was located opposite a T-‐junction).
One of the aspects that we wanted to explore was cargo bikes, and whether bicycle hangars might be linked with residential storage of cargo bikes as they are much larger, and tend to cost multiples (eg €1,500-‐€4,000 new) of a ‘standard’ bicycle. We met with a cargo bike owner and took the below photos. Note: that particular cargo bike is quite a short one, compared to many of the options available.
An alternative solution would be to install onstreet bollards on both sides, but this would; add to the per-‐ hangar cost of any scaled solution, increase street clutter against Dublin City’s public realm strategy, and would also reduce the flexibility of the relocation and redeployment of hangars as required.
Cargo bike in parallel with hangar. (Unlikely to fit, and/or be easy to manoeuvre into required position).
“Good idea but very ugly looking. Nice idea though!” “No uglier than a van parked in the same spot.” [as a response to the above comment]
Cargo bike to side of hangar. (Unlikely to fit, or be easy to manoeuvre into required position).
Cargo bike at 45 degrees to hangar.
The above particular bicycle hangar was designed to hold 6 bicycles rather than cargo bicycles, and that’s reflected in the above first two photos (would not fit). Therefore specialist cargo bike hangars would be required. We’re not aware of any commercially-‐available products on the market (there have been some prototype solutions), and it would appear to still be an emerging solution in cycling nations such as the Netherlands and Denmark.
It would be simple to trial different colours. Not so simple, but in theory, possible, would be to specify materials or hangar shapes. Lighting When we were showing others how to use the hangar (in the dark evenings), we noticed that due to a combination of the overhanging lid (when open) plus the location of the street lights and a nearby tree, that it could be quite dark inside the bike hangar, which sometimes made locking/unlocking a bicycle lock slightly difficult. A trial also participant noted the same “Can be a little dark in the evenings to see what is what.”
Another solution might be to provide cargo bike parking alongside or at an angle (as photo 3 above) to hangars, and there are some examples below of cargo bike parking options, ranging from low-‐tech steel hoops to high-‐tech RFID-‐card enabled solutions.
Proximity to street lighting should be considered, or possibly some form of off-‐grid solar-‐powered light incorporated into the hangar might be of benefit. Bin
Vesko ‘parking slab’
It’s unclear whether this was a local peculiarity of the exact location, so a larger trial, or input from the UK councils who have implemented bike hangars, might shed more light.
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Metrics – Appendix 1
#BikeHangarBeta Report Card 1.1 (Iteration.ReportCardVersion)
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Recommendations Iteration 1 Report Card
Dublin City Council costs
Via Niels Hoe
Future trials could consider further exploring this particular aspect.
One solution might be to consider providing a street bin reasonably close to a hangar to make it as simple as possible for keyholders to easily dispose of any windblown litter that might become trapped inside their hangar.
Via Niels Hoe
Many cargo bicycles now also offer an electric-‐assist option. However, most of them have removable batteries, and so could be charged from home whilst the bicycle is stored on the street. Therefore the provision of onstreet charging options would not be required.
It was never particularly noticeable from outside the hangar, only when the lid was raised. However, we can imagine that it could be a nuisance to the users of a hangar.
#BikeHangarBeta Report Card 1.1 (Iteration.ReportCardVersion)
Litter was often blown under the sides of the hangar and got caught. Once there, it won’t be picked up by Dublin City Council’s street sweeping schedules (nor would they have a key to open a hangar) and so may need some other solution.
Note: The various recommendations from the 1st Iteration Report Card have not been repeated here.
This trial cost Dublin City Council €4,700 with design, fabrication (inhouse in our joinery workshop), installation and removal being carried out by Dublin City Council’s Civic Maintenance section. Demand For
An automated counter was mounted on the pole next to the parklet, and counted visitors to the parklet.
There was a degree of tension in terms of siting the parklet. Many people liked that it didn’t seem to be connected to any particular commercial organisation – it was simply city seating. Others would have preferred it to have felt ‘connected’ to somewhere. “How come it isn't in front of Clement & Pekoe though?”
The parklet was visited an average of 3,650 per month, or approximately 12,500 times over the entire 15 week trial duration.
“This is a fabulous idea. We definitely need more seating to allow people to relax and just enjoy the City. Well done!” It would probably be fair to say that the linked business – Clement & Pekoe café – didn’t feel as much of a connection to ‘their’ parklet as the Black Sheep had in the 1st iteration of this trial on Capel Street. There’s a high chance that this was due to the parklet’s slight remove from the business in this case. This was due to their not being any parking space directly in front of the business. The below photos are taken from the external seating area of Clement & Pekoe, with the parklet to the left hand side – which is the nearest parking space (notwithstanding the cars/vans parked on the nearside of the below photos).
Daily usage averaged at 120 visits per day over the entire trial period. It ranged from 90-‐180 visits per day, with the highest usage on Saturdays.
This could suggest three items: 1. 2. 3.
The number of ‘suitable’ businesses and who also have a parking space more-‐or-‐less directly outside their property will likely reduce the scalability of this concept. Perhaps a parklets policy could find a way to consider spaces which are not pre-‐established parking spaces. There is a likely a play-‐off between creating a space that feels highly active and animated, and a space that feels entirely non-‐commercial. (San Francisco’s parklet policy is such that there is a commercial sponsor, but that it is technically public space and is to feel as such – for example any parklet furniture cannot match that used by the business.)
Car Parking “Whilst I agree they would be beneficial with allowing the interaction of individuals with the City – you are further reducing the already restricted availability of parking spaces in the city centre. And while one business might be happy to pay costs, it would be at the expense of other businesses in the area?”
DCC Beta Report 2016 : 13
“Cos parking spaces aren't already in short supply around that area” “So many spaces, but still not enough for the number of cars.” #StreetparkletBeta Report Card 2.1 (Iteration.ReportCardVersion)
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#StreetparkletBeta Report Card 2.1 (Iteration.ReportCardVersion)
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3.2 Inputs Expenditure DCC Beta’s direct expenditure, not including staff costs, over the 3.5 year period was €17,500 (including VAT). The expenditure covered the following areas: • Projects: €14,000 • DCC Beta branding items: €1,500 • General Administration: €2,000 Staff costs have not been included due to difficulty to estimate accurately. This is because much of the input was on a part-time basis and highly variable. Much of the management and development time was undertaken outside of normal working hours including evenings and weekends.
Staff Time The Beta Project approach proved to be a very efficient use of staff time as the methodology tends to ensure lots of “small wins” throughout each of the Beta Project stages. These small wins provide the basis of future projects. This is a different approach to the traditional “big-bang” approach to launching projects. Staff that participated in Beta Projects cited a number of positive impacts on their work practices. “It has been the most productive spend of my time all year.” [DCC staff member] “It offers a space to do something new, and a framework for how to go about doing it. This is
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invaluable when trying new things because it saves a huge amount of time. You don’t end up searching for weeks for the people you need to get in touch with. This is done through the Beta.” [DCC staff member] The staff allocation for each Beta Project varied depending on the nature and scale of the project. The following estimates of staff allocation are based on an average across all thee previous projects. 1. Project Creation - 5 days 2. Administration - 1 day per month minimum (queries, feedback, measurements). 3. Producing reports cards - 4 days (varies due to nature of trial) Other key staff time allocation that DCC Beta does not have sufficient experience yet to estimate include Policy Decisions, Corporate Delivery Model, Implementation. The two most significant staffing issues for DCC Beta include: 1. DCC Beta staff finding the time required to develop the DCC Beta platform, concept and culture within DCC and to provide the support to DCC staff and their sections when developing Beta Projects. 2. Individual staff being able to find consistent time to develop their Beta Project(s). Generally the amount of time required is low but with an initial time allocation for building capacity in departments and sections and until they become accustomed to the new approach.
Brand and communications It is important to have a consistent brand (ethos and visual identity) which makes clear that a Beta Project is an experimentation and not existing policy. This separation from existing policy or regular projects provides the Beta Project teams with breathing room and freedom to develop and protects the City Council from the uncertainty of trials and buffering it from any failures. For a very small investment to date, multiple elements of an internal innovation ecosystem have been created such as a recognised brand, methodology and support networks (both internal and external).
An additional ‘face’ has been created that Council can avail of when undertaking trials.
• Dublin City Council (DCC) Corporately-adopted policy and execution.
• Dublin City Council Beta (DCC Beta) Uncertainty, trialling and learning. Both staff and citizens noted that the new approach has given Dublin City Council a fresh and positive image, “bringing it into the 21st Century” and contributions from citizens, members of the business community and also elected representatives has been very enthusiastic and supportive.
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3.3 Key benefits Positive impacts on DCC Staff The DCC Beta approach recognises that staff are best placed to bring solutions to the problems that they know intimately, combined with the creativity of input of individuals both internal and external to the organisation. The response to DCC Beta among DCC staff across multiple sections has been very positive. See example quotes on page opposite. Staff cited a number of positive impacts on their own work such as positive views on:
• the new approach increasing productivity. • own work practices and an ability to propose new ideas. • on DCC as a organisation and how it facilitates networking among staff. • how DCC is interacting and interfacing with citizens. DCC staff also noted that being involved with a Beta Project often changed how they have approached their ‘core’ workload. Therefore, remaining in their home section, they are more likely to naturally and incrementally introduce the approach of a ‘bias towards action’, experimentation and evidence-based learning to their colleagues and section on an everyday basis.
organisations trying to develop similar initiatives. DCC Beta has been contacted by people from Brazil, Holland, across the UK, Colombia, Sweden, New Zealand, Australia, Iceland, Kenya, across the US, Canada and Denmark. The contributions from Dublin citizens, members of the business community and elected representatives on the DCC Beta blog has been overwhelmingly enthusiastic and supportive. As of December 2015, DCC Beta gained:
• 6,000 followers on various social media channels (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) • over 700,000 impressions over the 3.5 year period • visitors from over 100 countries (25% of all visits from outside of Ireland) To date, traditional media coverage has been very positive. Some examples include: “Globo TV has 60 million viewers in Brazil, and Dublin was chosen specifically because of the work of Beta Projects. “We usually travel abroad to make three or four television reports in one city. This time because of Dublin City Council’s Beta Project, we chose Dublin,” said Cassia Kuriyama, a journalist with the TV station.” [Evening Herald]
Traditional and social media coverage
“Dublin City Beta is a progressive initiative from the City Council to trial run small ideas for public feedback in a given area of the city, with a view to serving different areas needs whilst testing projects for a wider use across Dublin City. Beta is an encouragingly forward-thinking endeavour.” [Totally Dublin]
There has been high level of interest in the DCC Beta concept from other countries and cities. This has resulted in invites to speak at events, participation in EU projects, requests for information from other
“Dublin City Council’s Beta Project are demonstrating how people can have their say in how the capital presents itself, which in turn can inspire people in other towns and cities.” [TheJournal.ie]
These are some of the conditions under which long-term culture-change is generally best established.
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DCC Beta has helped define my role as an engineer within DCC. It encouraged me to propose new ideas and question the existing way of doing things which should be part of what an engineer does on a daily basis. [DCC staff member]
I see one of the key benefits being providing an outlet for staff creativity and helping with staff morale. [DCC senior management staff member]
It put me in touch with all the stakeholders that would be involved in such a project, and strengthened working relationships in that regard. [DCC staff member]
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Beta allows staff to come up with novel ways of doing things and encourages inter-departmental solutions. The informal approach encourages feedback from the public and allows for projects to be tested without having to commit. [DCC staff member]
The whole concept of the Beta Projects is a very positive inventive way to encourage innovation and risk reduced planning for any city. The idea that there is a location to trial new ideas, to encourage new ideas and then to remove some / most of the risk involved in the funding of the project must be seen as the way forward for any proactive city trying to meet the needs of its citizens. [DCC staff member]
It’s a great way of trialling new ideas to get an idea of the issues involved in up-scaling. It could be done for a whole range of projects to encourage support at a local level before rolling out the larger projects.You could see it as a kind of risk management section. It could be used for many larger engineering projects for which there may be local opposition. [DCC staff member]
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DCC Beta has been contacted by staff in seven other local authorities in Ireland with queries about developing a Beta approach in their organsation. Additionally, establishing ‘Beta’ working relationships with business organisations such as Dublin Town have been very useful. One method for approximating a financial value of media coverage is to use the advertising value equivalent (AEV). This provides a value on what would it have cost to purchase advertising of an equivalent print size and audience coverage. DCC Beta and the projects delivered created a print media advertising value equivalent of €44,000 in the final 12 months up to September 2015. To put that in context, DCC Beta directly spent €11,500 on projects during the same period – giving a 4:1 ratio. This advertising value equivalent was only measured for the final twelve months but we can assume an equivalent ratio from end of year one.
Reducing Risk DCC Beta has provided a cost effective way to manage risk by trying out new solutions, building an evidence base and winning support from stakeholders. This improves decision-making and resource allocation. The key aspects of the DCC Beta approach that helps this includes: 1. thinking big, but starting small. 2. ensuring that trials are both flexible to change and also easily removable.
3. seeking early input and feedback (both internal and external to the organisation). 4. giving clear signals that it’s an idea or project “in beta”. Staff cited a number of ways that DCC Beta helped with reducing risk. For example, see page opposite.
Improving morale, retaining and attracting talent The significant resource constraints and challenges that DCC face such as budget cuts, increasing workload and higher citizen expectations demands that DCC attracts and retains the best talent and provides creative opportunities for staff development. Staff cited a number of ways in which the DCC Beta approach could help towards achieving this. 1. Retain our best talent. “I see one of the key benefits being providing an outlet for staff creativity and helping with staff morale.” [DCC senior management staff member] 2. Be able to recruit great new talent when required. “One of the most inspiring things that I have seen in years.” [DCC senior management staff member] “It showed me that we have staff willing to go the extra mile and also that the institution is not always able to respond to that opportunity and that in some ways it can be seen as a threat or noncore distraction.” [DCC staff member]
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Improving DCC Beta’s Metabolism While total length of time would vary widely between Beta Projects because of different scales of project and levels of complexity, what should be measured is the average length of time required between the key steps and decision stages. One useful metric to measure the success of DCC Beta is the speed at which it helps ideas to progress from conception to implementation. This can be referred to as the “Metabolism”. It is well understood that innovation in the public sector can be a time consuming process. For example, Christian Bason (CEO of Danish Design Centre, former head of MindLab) stated that in Denmark “it takes proven, evidence-based, solutions 17 years to spread across the healthcare system”.
1. Project Suggestion to Prioritisation Assessment No regular figures for this. 2. Prioritised Project to Project onstreet - 0-12 months, to date averaging about 3 months. 3. Project end to Project removal - Initially about 6 months, now reduced to 0-1 months. 4. Project end to Report Card - 1-9 months, now averaging about 3 months. 5. Report Card to Decision => Persevere in learning 0-3 months 6. Persevere Decision to Next Iteration Project - 3-12 months, averaging 6 months
Beta Projects run through a series of pre-defined stages and steps and the list opposite gives a sense of the approximate current ‘Beta Project metabolism’ and could provide a baseline against which we might attempt to assess future progress.
7. Report Card to Decision => Formalise as Policy Two projects at this stage so far – 12 months
While there is no comparable figure for pre DCC Beta project timeframes, the evidence from staff suggests that the new approach is seen to be faster.
9. Business Model Trial end to Out Of Beta - 15 months.
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8. Policy to Business Model Trial - Only one project at this stage so far – 9 months.
“ “ “
The trialling of a possible solution at low cost initially to see if it would be successful. If it is not successful, then little money has been wasted and it could point the way to a successful solution. [DCC staff member]
Greater communication and synergy between DCC sections through something like the Beta project results in an increased appreciation of the role of DCC as provider of public services; within sections it is easy to lose sight of the bigger picture. [DCC staff member]
Beta also allowed me to connect with staff with whom I would not normally come in contact. This developed my understanding of how DCC works and what other services we provide. [DCC staff member]
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3.4 Key reflections In addition to the above evaluation of inputs, outputs and impact, this section presents some key reflections on the wider role and process of DCC Beta. It is important to note that the Beta Projects to date also supported the development and testing of the DCC Beta model and approach.
DCC Beta as an innovation ecosystem Experiences gained from the delivery of DCC Beta to date suggests that there are six overarching elements required for a healthy DCC Beta ecosystem:
• • • • • •
Permissions Purse (Finance) People Process (“Beta Projects”) Place Partners
There also need to be specific strengths developed in these key areas:
• • • •
Visioning – thinking, discussing, prioritising Trialling – trial design, prototyping Assessing – feedback, measuring, reporting Implementing – policy-making, business models
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Key stages Based on the experience of issues that emerged during the development of a Beta Project, the stages outlined in the image on the page opposite emerged as useful. This approach greatly simplifies the process, speeds up our metabolism, and allows for much greater citizen input. These stages also allow DCC Beta to focus discussion and learning on single stages and to achieve a series of ‘small wins’ at multiple stages rather than expecting a ‘big win’. This process can be faster as well as more transparent and inclusive compared to current approaches to developing projects. During the initial implementation of DCC Beta, a number of opportunities and stumbling blocks emerged. When stumbling blocks were encountered potential solutions and or workarounds were developed or adopted from elsewhere.
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4. DCC Beta
Recommendations Based on the experiences of delivering DCC Beta to date, there is sufficient evidence to warrant investing in and scaling up the approach within DCC. This section outlines a number of key recommendations.
Staff A number of key staffing requirements for DCC Beta have been identified. This includes developing a core staff for DCC Beta and more flexible teams that can deliver Beta Projects. Three different “staff types” have been identified as important for the overall delivery of DCC Beta.
and are open to fresh thinking and experimentation. This group represents ‘the right mindset’ and has a ‘can do’ attitude rather than ‘the right grade’. However this group also has a good understanding of the constraints and opportunities to working in local government.
1. DCC Beta Lead (core staff) 2. DCC Beta Support 3. Beta Project Champion
• Required: A group of Beta Support has already been developed with representatives in most sections of DCC. A structured approval mechanism for staff input is required. There are some DCC precedents for allowing this but any potential solutions should first be trialled with full input from relevant management and staff.
1. DCC Beta Lead (core staff)
3. Beta Project Champion
• Role: leading and directing the ‘Beta’ concept, developing the concept and backend of DCC Beta and Beta Projects, demonstrating the lean concept and evidence-based decision making, using Beta Projects as prototype tools for learning and demonstration, internal and external communications, key networking and oversight of all projects underway. • Type: a specialist role requiring an understanding of design processes, a startup mentality, an understanding of political, technical, social and business models.
2. DCC Beta Support • Role: Individual Beta Projects interact and overlap with multiple sections in DCC and this requires a network of ‘go to’ staff.
• Role: Each Beta Project is championed by a DCC staff member and the project is usually their suggestion or a suggestion from outside DCC (such as a citizen). • Type: They will sometimes be members of the DCC Beta support network or core mentioned above. What they bring is vision and passion. Some informal knowledge of the relevant subject area is usually a given. They may have formal expertise in the relevant subject area but this is not usually required as they can rely on the above groups. • Required: Building upon the (former) DCC Studio’s ‘staff ideas scheme’ this will require a clear approval mechanism for them to input into projects on a structured basis, whether regular or irregular, or a combination of both.
• Type: These are “Champions of Change” that bring knowledge of their section, expertise in a particular field
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Operational Structure A number of DCC staff made specific recommendations on the operational structure that DCC Beta could develop in order to be more sustainable: “DCC should examine setting up a DCCbeta Unit. Increase resources available to carry out more trials.” [DCC staff member] “The mechanism may work more effectively in a small group setting -within a cross discipline unit.” [DCC staff member] “Beta should be expanded as a project across all sections of DCC. [DCC staff member]
“I do think it is timely for the Beta concept to be owned by a Department or unit to give it more status.” [DCC staff member] Considering the three different staffing type outlined above, the following structure for DCC Beta is proposed. See Below. This structure provides the following advantages: 1. Lean: DCC Beta is only as large as required at any one time and it only scales up in relation to relevant projects. 2. Reversible and Flexible: Alongside the small number of core staff, it can be resourced in a flexible and reversible manner. Other than the core DCC Beta staff,
DCC Beta Structure Stafﬁng Full-time staff, plus regularised part-time involvement.
Setup ‘Core’ administrative resource and cross-departmental function (project-speciﬁc) to access resources and skills as needed.
Positioning Locate under a cross-departmental section.
DCC department Full-time “core” staff
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Part-time regular and irregular involvement
no staff are ‘committed’ and any arrangements could be reviewed at regular periods such as quarterly or yearly.
The baseline budget should be increased in line with the number of appropriate Beta Projects being developed
3. Sustainable and Resilient: Having access to staff resources will make DCC Beta resilient. The DCC Beta Support staff remain available in their sections for the majority of the time. This ensures that they remain as a resource for their line management and also enables them to keep abreast with any developments in their area such as CPD requirements.
Large-scale trials would require more resources from the key departments. The rollout of projects would revert to the relevant core department(s).
4. Transferable: DCC Beta Support staff will be aware of the latest challenges that their home section is encountering and opportunities that it is considering. They can bring these insights to Beta Projects.
Monitoring and evaluation While DCC Beta has developed a system of metrics by which Beta Projects can be measured, there is a need to further develop the monitoring and evaluation approach of DCC Beta. Key evaluation themes to be addressed include:
Based on the DCC Beta experience to date it is essential that DCC Beta has core funding. The budget should be able to be scaled through various means such as cofinancing, match funding and contracted services.
Governance: An annual DCC Beta Report Card (similar to this document, but focussed on a single year) should be provided to Senior Management. These Report Cards will allow Senior Management to feed back each year with questions, improvements or additions for the following year’s Report Card.
DCC Beta has proved itself to be lean and cost effective but it should also be capable of running larger trials than those previously deployed and to be able to support a Beta Project team as the concept grows.
Management: In order to better assess the true cost of DCC Beta and individual Beta Projects, any future expansion of the concept should be aiming to find a way to more accurately measure:
To enable it to grow and develop, DCC Beta should be initially funded for a minimum of 3 years at a minimum set baseline budget. This will allow for appropriate structures to be established but also to allow DCC Beta to attract staff of sufficient quality and experience.
• DCC staff time input - staff participating in Beta Projects • DCC Metabolism - the recording of milestone dates between Beta Project stages • Media AEV - measure the monetary values on traditional print media, TV and radio, and also for social media.
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Prioritising projects One of the issues that emerged over the course of delivering Beta Projects was the need to have a more coherent mechanism for prioritising projects. For example, when the issue of on-street dumping was initially explored under DCC Beta, it became apparent that it was potentially a ‘popular’ project with high quality suggestions from the public. It was also clear that on-street dumping represented a ‘wicked problem’ (highly complex problem with multiple feedback loops) which would require a rather different approach requiring multiple different Beta Projects. In order to be able to deal with a complex challenge such as on-street dumping, DCC Beta would need to develop a mechanism for concurrently managing and prioritising multiple Beta Projects. The framework on the page opposite is proposed as a mechanism for prioritising projects. The framework would allow for projects to be prioritised succinctly and transparently while communicating (internally and for the public) what projects are being undertaken. The framework will also enable senior management input into larger challenges whilst maintaining a ‘hands off’ approach to individual projects. It is recommended that this framework would be reviewed and updated on a quarterly basis. The bottom third of this table would be populated by suggestions from staff and citizens. Larger challenges in the middle third could arise from senior management and councillors’ input alongside input from DCC Beta. These
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larger ‘wicked challenges’ will tend to have a slower turnover rate. The top third is focussed on further developing the DCC Beta concept and innovation ecosystem.
DCC metabolism “You [should] have a bias towards action: Done well today is better than perfect next week.” [U.S. startup, Buffer.] Based on experience to date, the main factors which are slowing the DCC Metabolism include the following: 1. Staff Time Permissions – Staff finding the time required to develop their Beta Project is currently the largest issue facing DCC Beta. In order to address this, the following actions are recommended: a) Ensure that the Beta Project process is as simple and as efficient as possible. b) Find a more effective way for staff to tap into available time and resources. This will require a series of trials with both senior management and individual staff involvement. c) Reduce the amount of time required by individual staff by creating a core resource which staff can avail of. 2. Funding – Having funding readily available for trials greatly speeds up the rollout of trials. This funding needs to be sufficient to ensure quick rollout. 3. Knowledge management – Carrying out a project in a ‘lean’ fashion tends to differ from existing DCC practices. DCC Beta needs to develop better and faster ways of gathering quantitative and qualitative data and feedback from trials.
Single projects (possibly multiple iterations) Dynamic, chopping and changing Arise: Bottom up and middle out (eg citizens, councillors and staff)
Individual Beta Projects Multiple projects (possibly multiple iterations). Longer-term. Arise: Top down (eg senior management and councillors)
City Challenges Organic, ongoing. Arise: As awareness of a friction point arises.
Prioritising Beta Projects
City Challenge (e.g. housing, on-street dumping) City Challenge City Challenge
Individual Beta Project (e.g. rainbox planters, bicycle hangar)
Individual Beta Project
Individual Beta Project
Individual Beta Project
Individual Beta Project
Individual Beta Project
Individual Beta Project
Individual Beta Project
Individual Beta Project
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4. Project Permissions – Beta Projects have various ‘touchpoints’ within the organisation particularly when some form of ‘permission’ is required. These permissions could include placing something on a public pavement, using a City Council asset or when a project overlaps with another department.
All of the suggestions above are arising from conversations with DCC staff seeking support in many of these areas.
The process of gaining permissions is designed for very different circumstances to a Beta Project and the process is not always appropriate for a lean approach. This means that the process for gaining project permission could be streamlined for Beta Projects whenever possible.
DCC Beta emphasises evidence-based decision-making. This involves the collecting of useful and reliable evidence.
Internal DCC Practices DCC Beta mirrors Dublin City Council (external communications, projects, staffing, reporting, and so forth) and it has actively sought to find ways of doing more with less. On that basis, DCC Beta can provide opportunities for exploring possible changes to internal policy or work practice. For example, the following issues could be explored through internal Beta Projects: Reporting: For example, as DCC Beta develops new ways of reporting these new practices can be transferred to other sections. For example, ways to measure the ‘softer’ impacts of DCC Beta may help with valuing the ‘softer’ sections of the council. Measuring: Building capacities for evidence-gathering technologies and methods. For example, DCC Beta is proposing to place a monetary value on social media an approach not yet undertaken by other DCC sections.
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Technology, Smart Cities and Smart Citizens
Technology can often provide a solution for this. On the page opposite are some of the technology solutions that have been used to date on Beta Projects. For example, during the South William Street parklet Beta Project data was required to measure usage of the parklet. There is a Dublin Town footfall counter on South William Street (photo below). As this provides broad street-level data similar to other ‘city grid’ sensors it would not have generated useful data. Therefore, for this trial a counter was placed next to the parklet itself (centre photo above) providing data specifically relating to the usage of the parklet. This use of these forms of technology in cities generally falls under the umbrella of ‘Smart Cities’. There are various aspects of Smart Cities, particularly the use of technology to collect data, which generates public debate. Key issues that emerge include privacy (what data is being gathered, is it stored or encrypted, who can access it) and suitability (how useful is the data for decision-making).
A Beta Project that applies Smart City approaches could also be used to encourage debate about the use of sensors and different technologies that generate data about the city. This would help DCC learn about the pros and cons of the various technology types, the usefulness of the data generated and the practical aspects such as the installation and maintenance requirements. Using Beta Projects would allow this to happen at a manageable scale and the insights from this could be then used to inform any larger scale deployment in connection with DCCs Smart City aspirations. It is therefore recommended that the Smart City unit (Smart Dublin) links with Beta Projects as the
mechanism through which DCC initially learns and debates these aspects of Smart Cities. “[DCC Beta] shows the important work that should be part of planning smart city initiatives in terms of understanding the exact motivations, benefits and dangers of a city-wide roll out of technology, which might come without sufficient considerations regarding the different and complex issues that might emerge. [Sung-Yueh, PhD Researcher, ERC The Programmable City Project, Maynooth University] It is important to note that DCC Beta also places a strong emphasis on input and suggestions from Dublin citizens – the ‘smartest’ aspect of any city. This occurs through the on-street reports cards, blog and social media.
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In order to support the development and delivery of trials and prototypes, DCC Beta partnered with DCC Joinery Workshop and a number of organisations across Dublin such as TOG Maker Space and Code For Ireland.
“DCCbeta looks like a great approach to running experiments in government.” [feedback received from the UK organisation, ‘Service Design in Government’]
For example, the DCC internal Joinery Workshop created two Beta Projects more rapidly, cheaply and professionally compared to using other procurement processes. The makerspace TOG and coding group Code For Ireland have enabled DCC Beta to explore key aspects of several Beta Projects in very flexible and low cost ways. These partnerships were beneficial to DCC Beta as well as the partner organisations even though the relationship were informal. For DCC Beta to grow and achieve higher impact these partnerships should be continued and further developed. DCC Beta Report 2016 : 32
Prototyping is a key aspect of service design and is something which local governments generally struggle with across the world. As DCC looks to further the use of service design, it will increasingly require a method of prototyping. DCC Beta has developed this process and this can work in conjunction with any developments around service design within DCC. “If Beta ceased we think the City Council would end up reinventing the concept and process in the next couple of years.” [Deirdre Ni Raghallaigh, DCC Staff Member]
Working with Universities In a similar manner to the partnerships above, DCC Beta developed links with universities such as Dublin Institute of technology, University College Dublin, National College of Art and Design, Trinity College Dublin and University of Limerick. These links allowed students to undertake projects related to Beta Projects. For example, DIT visual communication students developed several concepts for the Rain Box Planters Beta Project. While the students benefit from having external projects to work on, DCC Beta benefits from creative input that will be useful when the final business model is being developed. “In relation to DIT and DCC Beta - I think there could be really interesting ways of developing this further.” [DIT staff member]
These links with universities should be developed over time. As DCC Beta grows there will be potential for more in-depth research and analysis that could be undertaken by Masters or PhD students and their mentors. “My proposed teaching idea is inspired by the Dublin City Councils Beta Projects. From time to time, a local business will contact the University and request an […] assessment of […]. Instead of addressing this problem straight away, I use the issue as a student project. It’s a serviced learning based course. […] A model […] is created and measurements are used to validate the model. […] The students are required to write a professional report for delivery to the client thus providing the students with a solid introduction to the world of […] consulting. I’d like this class to partner the Dublin City Council Beta Projects.” [TCD staff member]
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5. Conclusions Based on the experiences of delivering DCC Beta to date, there is sufficient evidence to warrant investing in and scaling up the approach within DCC. This section outlines a number of key recommendations. This report has set out some of the key insights and lessons that emerged from delivering DCC Beta to date. It has presented DCC Beta as a model and process of trialling, assessing and implementing ways to improve the experience of life in Dublin. DCC Beta provides the platform through which a number of individual “Beta Projects” can be delivered. These Beta Projects act as trials and experiments that address key issues that the council is seeking to understand before implementing on a city-wide scale.
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It is worth noting that sections within DCC are always “piloting” new projects at different scales but there is no common methodology. This lack of a common methodology means these activities can be less efficient for DCC but also less transparent and inclusive for citizens. DCC Beta has developed and demonstrated a better process for making evidence-based decisions, the use of strategic design tools and methods and an excellent overall return on investment.
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Dublin City Council Beta A Dublin City Council live mechanism for trialling, assessing and implementing ways to improve the experience of life in the Capital. Email: email@example.com Website: www.dccbeta.ie www.twitter.com/DCCbeta www.facebook.com/DCCbeta www.instagram.com/DCCbeta Postal Address: Dublin City Council Beta City Architects Division, Dublin City Council, Wood Quay, Dublin 8, Ireland. DCC Beta Report 2016 : 36
DCC Beta is a Dublin City Council live mechanism for trialling, assessing and implementing ways to improve the experience of life in the Cap...