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Leeds GovJam 2015

This week we hosted the brilliant Leeds GovJam, a global event that applies innovation in service design to the government and public sector. Taking place over 48 hours, the GovJam was hosted in over 30 cities from the HQ in Ljubljana to Sau Paulo and Leeds' twin event in Athens. Photos of the GovJam can be found here.

Matt Edgar, organiser of Leeds GovJam, kicking the event off. Photo credit to Lisa J. Jeffrey
Matt Edgar, one of the organisers of Leeds GovJam, kicking the event off. Photo credit to Lisa J. Jeffery

Although the Jam aimed to creatively tackle problems in the public sector, Jammers came from a variety of backgrounds. Designers, innovation consultants and lowly ODI interns mingled with folks from the Department for Work and Pensions and city council workers from across the UK.

As a first-time Jammer admittedly I was not sure what to expect from it all. By the end of the first day I was hugely inspired by the GovJam and the people involved. Everyone at the Leeds GovJam wanted to use their skills and knowledge to bring about people-centred change to public services through creative service design. It was also a lot of fun! Taking part was personally a huge privilege.

Service design is people centered. Photo credit: Lisa J. Jeffrey
Service design is people centered. Photo credit: Lisa J. Jeffery

At the beginning of the event a secret theme was revealed — a picture of a keyhole — that was consistent across Jams worldwide. From this a number of teams formed based on their interpretation of the theme, which was an interesting challenge given its ambiguity. One team focused on transparency while others on community recycling, a shared skills economy, accessing government services, unlocking the cycle of poverty and empowering local communities with information. The ultimate aim of the GovJam was to to co-create an innovative prototype that improves on public services.

The second day of the Leeds GovJam saw teams researching, testing, mapping and prototyping their projects ready for a fun presentation in the afternoon. Many teams went out to Leeds city centre to conduct user research. To gauge the potential for my team's project — MRKT — we went out to Kirkgate Market to discuss with retailers whether they would be willing to pass on recycled food for a good cause. The response was really positive and we were able to construct a number of personas and storyboards to explore the idea further. A short presentation towards the end of the day allowed Jammers to present their projects in an engaging, creative way.

User testing in the field! Photo credit to Lisa J. Jeffrey
User testing in the field! Photo credit to Lisa J. Jeffery

Here's a list of the innovative projects with a link to their uploaded content on the Global GovJam website:

  1. Cook Truck — a mobile service that educates people about healthy food and cooking
  2. Databook — a place that allows you to have more control over your data
  3. Leeds Pond — creating a shared skills economy for communities
  4. Bin There — a self-service for recycling
  5. MRKT — an online platform connecting retailers looking to donate food that would otherwise be thrown away to people experiencing food poverty
  6. Life Helper — making it easier for users to find and access government services
  7. Community Connect — a place that makes local information more accessible

By the third day teams were in the final stages of prototyping, readying themselves for the final show and tell. Watching the teams present their projects demonstrated what could be achieved in a very short space of time if motivated people collaborate together. One project — Cook Truck — even managed to secure outside support that would enable them to make the project a reality.

Final show and tells. Photo credit to Lisa J. Jeffrey
Final show and tells. Photo credit to Lisa J. Jeffery

ODI Leeds would like to thank the organisers of the event — Leeds GovJam — and the sponsors that made it happen such as DWP Digital. Finally, thanks to everyone who took part in what was a truly inspiring and memorable few days!

If you'd like to host an event at ODI Leeds or make use of our open, collaborative space then please get in touch or if you'd be interested in becoming an individual member then please visit our Join Us page.

By Liam Bolton

Intern at ODI Leeds