Civic tech for smartphone beginners: is the future binary?

Part of the Scrutiny, oversight & the data that makes it possible session of TICTeC Show and Tells 2021
Tuesday 23rd March, 15:00 – 16:00 GMT
Zoom

As real-time data becomes increasingly important for decision-making, Integrity Action‘s DevelopmentCheck tool pushes those in positions of authority to deliver better public services and infrastructure projects.

It is particularly deployed in places with high levels of poverty — but there’s a challenge: to be effective, the tool needs to generate accurate and reliable data. However, the app users are community members who have often never used a smartphone before. How do we make the tool both easy to use and reliable in its data output?

Arran shares how their research and learning cycle has taken them through various iterations to the current design of the tool.

Finally it became clear that binary (yes/no) questions play a significant role, and careful work must go into creating them. Users monitor delivery of projects/services (does the clinic have safe water?), report in the app on problems (pump is broken), and engage to get issues resolved (municipality fixes the pump).

Research showed that the free text fields initially used for problem reporting made data hard to analyse, so they added categories, making the data accessible to duty-bearers using it for decision-making and the app easier for users.

Trialing this version in Armenia, user-focused research showed that this was not an optimal solution; some problems were hard to discretely categorise. The current iteration uses binary questions. Engaging with users and local partners, the team now pre-identify key potential problems ahead of deployment, which produces meaningful data, focuses on a few common issues, and facilitates engagement with stakeholders for problem-solving.

Link: DevelopmentCheck

Please see the recording of Arran’s presentation below, as well as his presentation slides. You can also find his responses to the post-event Q&A in this document.

Video

Slides

Civic tech for smartphone beginners: is the future binary? – Arran Leonard (Integrity Action) from mysociety