Carrie Bishop: Making Government Digital in a City of Contradictions

January 28, 2019 1:18:00
Kaltura Video

Carrie Bishop shares what it takes to bring digital transformation to government in San Francisco, a tech city where expectations are high and social justice activism is a part of daily life. January, 2019.


All right good afternoon
everyone it's lovely to see

you on such a beautiful day for
all getting here.

Yes it's our very wintry
installment of the S.T.P.

lecture series I think I know most of you
but those of you I don't know I'm Joy Rody

and I'm the interim director
of the Science Technology and

Public Policy Program here at the Ford
School of Public Policy today of the great

pleasure of introducing our speaker who
we dragged here from San Francisco.

As she said she's getting
the full Michigan experience but

both of them regarding Feb 15th.

the next round of the admissions to
the certificate program are due Feb 15th

the link to information is on our website
and you can find that on the program for

today also on Feb 15th Tom
collegial who is currently

the chief innovation officer
Schmidt futures and formerly an S.

and T.
policy and

also an economic advisor in the Obama and

Clinton administrations is going to be
giving a lunchtime talk that's a Friday so

he'll be speaking at lunch and US Science
and Technology Policy past present and

future so you might want to put
that on your calendars but now for

the main event I am delighted to
introduce Kerry Bishop She is the chief

digital services officer for
the city and county of San Francisco and

as you'll see from her bio she believes
passionately about public services

designed she believes passionately that
public services should be designed around

the people who use them she began her
career in local government in the U.K.

She's worked in Europe and Australia
before coming to San Francisco in 2017 she

spent 8 years running future guy which is
a London based digital design agency for

public services really
been on the vanguard.

Of of sort of public technology.

In San Francisco she is leading the team
that builds new digital services and

redesigns services for folks in the city
of San Francisco today's tack is

co-sponsored by the school of information
and also supported by our student group

inspire So thank you all for your support
and after the talk there will be a Q.

and A You should have no cards Come around
and pick those up starting around 415

write your questions on them and
R S T P P students and

inspire leaders Lindsay Machar and
Laura Greer will be helping us with the Q.

and A today assisted by her S.T.P.

program manager Molly Kleinman So
without further ado please join me

in giving a warm welcome
to Carrie Bishop thank you.

Everyone thank you for

braving the weather to be here I really
appreciate you showing up in such force

at apologize I'm getting ever cold so
I'm going to be like drinking and kind of.

Hopefully not coughing too much
through this but bear with me.

So carrion thank you for
the really generous introduction.

So yeah I guess I'm going to just talk a
little bit about my experience is like how

I got to where I am what I'm doing today
and kind of some of my observations and

thoughts about working in the kind
of intersection of technology and

public service and I I haven't really

majored on emerging technology and
like how we deal with things like.

Sidewalk robots but but
I know that that's what some of you have

been interested in and so I'm really
happy to talk about that stuff in the Q.

and A because I think it's I've heard from
a few people today that that's kind of

area of interest so this isn't really come
about but I think we can definitely get

into it in the Kinect that's what you're
interested in talking about so kind of.

If you would I prepared so
this was the 1st place I.

Worked this is the 1st directing this is
the London bar of planet So London is so

big that there's like
a 1000000 people there so

they break London into multiple
municipalities smaller municipalities and

each one has a population of around 300000
so than it is in the northwest of London

this is the 1st office that they
had I think this might actually be

older than America or they're not fully
show of the date of the building but.

So and I was a graduate student so
I had finished my undergrad I did work for

a year in a charity and
then I applied to be a.

Graduate on a program that is the U.K.
is kind of program for

local government management so
they recruit people out of college and

stick them on this program for

you kind of try out different you
have placements new try out different

placements in the city every 6 months you
do rotation alongside that you kind of

study 1st post-grad so I did that for

another 2 years while I was there did also
different things but the main thing I

majored on was change management and
so what we were doing at that time and

we're talking this way too but
we're talking around $50000.00 for.

What we're doing at that time
was implementing big I.T.

system change in the organization so
we were kind of taking all these small

databases and Excel spreadsheets and kind
of bits of paper that the city was running

on we're consolidating that into one
huge I.T. system and it looks like

crap so these are like screenshots of the
port types of products that are using both

as a peer which is this big financial
system and I often call out S.

and P.
because that's the one that we

are implementing but actually the other

there's only really one other competitor
in the market and that's by Oracle and

that's equally as terrible so like just to
honor how terrible they both are this is

what they look like as you can
tell they're the user interface.

It is horrific it makes the eyes
bleed any look at it and

you need a 3 day training course to
understand how this thing works and

you know my role there was a kind of
implement a change of make people feel

super positive about using this new I.T.

like they mostly they wanted to kill me
especially and this was kind of kind of.

Really for me when I started to think
about like what am I doing here and what

is my kind of career trajectory especially
because I was talking with social workers

and people who are really out there on
the front lines of public service but

how they needed to change the way they
were working in order to work with this

technology system which as you can see
looks like it was designed in the dog so

it really felt like I wasn't doing any
good for public services because I was

making us change the way we were
delivering our services for technology and

this was of course in 2004 about the same
time as Twitter was becoming a thing and

Facebook was becoming a thing and
you don't need a training course

to understand how that technology works so
why is it that public service the people

who are doing the most important jobs
that we have in the world we're giving

them this technology to work with when you
know everybody else gets to use cool also

in web applications that are like super
lightweight and have loads of you X.

and U.I. design behind them so I started
to think about like how could things be

different how might we
do things differently.

And so long story short I quit and
with my friend who I had also

worked with in the same place we started
a company called Future of which I ran for

it's been going for 8 years and for
the last 10 years in the last 8 I was

helping to run so
the 2 of us run this company.

It's actually doing better and
since I've left so.

It's kind of going back
constantly hiring So

if you fancy working in London then you
can definitely apply for a job there but

feel should have at the start we were like
a social media consulting company because

this is Facebook and Twitter was new
people were saying to us like people

capable of learning about stuff on Twitter
how can we shut down Twitter and so

we had to be like well it's not really
about that and like this is about a new

dialogue with your citizens this is about
a new way of engaging with the public and

you need to embrace it become
more porous organization and

that was really kind
of a turning point for

a lot of people but you know our
jobs we had been we started out.

Working in government understanding
kind of the complexity of how government

deliver services and really social media

was kind of just like a tiny piece of this
giant puzzle so we started to kind of like

reverse our way back into the organization
and think about how might we design.

Better systems and processes ways of
working and ultimately how might it bring

some of this web based technology
which is light weight easy to use

in the cloud beautifully designed
technology to public services so we grew

this company there's currently actually
there's currently like 80 people working

in the company at the time and effort
is 40 but we bought another company so.

And we worked we were told over the world
from United Arab Emirates where they're

talking about how do you make

they are content with 5 star hotels they
have 7 star hotels in Dubai so how do you

apply that idea to public services and
make 7 star public services over to

Australia who are very focused on the
transactional elements of government and

I spent some time actually in far
eastern Europe Russia in Georgia so.

That's probably a story for a bar anyway.

I was advised to say that we were to
have the world so we had lots of time to

understand like how different governments
and how cities think about technology and

innovation then I decided to fulfill
a childhood dream not marry a prince but

move to America and merge the U.K.
and the U.S. in this glorious I

just wanted an excuse to show this picture
really I think we can all feel it.

Yeah I wanted to live in the U.S. And so

as a kid I'm sure many people can relate
to that feeling so I started applying for

jobs and this job came up as the Chief
Digital Services Office for the city and

county of San Francisco this is
now the city hall that I work in.

Very grand in comparison but built way
after the 1st one her Shoji Wally.

And I thought never get a job because
like I don't have a digital back I

did political science college and I worked
in government this whole time and what do

I know about design I don't have a design
degree but as it turns out I think and

I was obviously I was competing against
all these people from Silicon Valley so

of course like you know I didn't
anticipate that I get this job at all but

I think what swung it for me and what I
what I hear from people who interviewed me

is that really their understanding of
government and the way government works

and just how hard it is to make change
happen in government was the kind of thing

that I had that maybe other people didn't
have and I think there are a lot of kind

of technology civic tech utopians who
think that like just build it and

roll it out they'll be super easy and
publics public service will be better and

just doesn't work that way and
I'm here to tell you why.

So what are we even talking about when we
say digital services I've got like a few

definitions but I think this really speaks
to it you know we we are not prepared

I showed you the technology the public
servants are using it's terrible it's slow

it's clunky it's hard to use it doesn't
even do the things that you need it to do

it's not connected the data is siloed and
so we're taking that technology and

we're trying to meet the challenges of
like autonomous vehicles and facial

recognition and all these new technologies
that are coming at us fast but we're

trying to do that with terrible technology
that is really built in the dark ages so

that is like one of our biggest challenges
so how do we kind of modernize and

how do we not just bring in new technology
but also bring in the kind of Internet era

ways of working that means new
business models that means more agile

ways of developing software that means
design thinking and it means being kind of

willing to test and fail as you go it's
more about the pros and cons of that.

This is my definition my public service is
designed around the people that use them

because this isn't just about
technology right it's not just

anyone anytime somebody engages
the public service they're not

just engaging with the interface

at some point they're probably going
to have to show up at a building or

at some point and inspector is probably
going to come to their business and

check that doing the thing there's always
going to be some offline element with many

many public services not always but many
and so how does that look at how do we

design it as one whole service rather
than this kind of fragmented experience.

And this is.

Some of you may have come
across in your studies or

his kind of preeminent thinker in the U.K.
around digital services and

was part of the U.K.'s real
efforts to improve government and

he talks about employee applying
culture practices and processes

of the Internet era So again it's not just
about the technology it's about the way we

build that technology in the way of
designing things that is more modern.

Because you know things have moved on
people people's expectations are much

higher Strangely I have found my
experience much higher in the U.K.

and Europe than in the U.S. So I think you
know this slide talks about the pace of

life and how we've kind of started to use
all these new services that make things so

much easier for us but when we ask
residents in San Francisco like what they

think public services digitally could be
like in the next 5 years they're like

I don't know maybe just not suck like
that's their kind of bar of entry for

how public service could be just not
terrible please somebody said something

like You know I just wanted to be like
Starbucks I just want to go in it's not

the best coffee in the world but like I'm
in and out in 5 minutes I know exactly

what I'm getting and I like cool but
could we actually have like good

coffee is well I'm like really make it you
know an extra special experience and then

my whole team yelled at me about being
a coffee snob and that was the end of that

debate because I guess
people like stocks so.

Government is starting to get in the U.S.

I'm sure many of you familiar with the
health care dot gov thing that happened so

try to make it possible to apply for
health care on line the whole thing crash

it was a terrible disaster I know some
people involved in that project and

some of the stories you
wouldn't believe but

a lot of it because actually we were like
contracting out things to smaller and

smaller organizations so the line of sight
to the user was just almost complete like

it was complete a complete barrier
there and that was one of many factors.

I would say this of course but the U.K.
government has really led the way in some

of this kind of digital government
agenda so about 5 years

ago somebody decided that we should have
one single website for all of government.

And so that's what they built and
it's been super successful in the U.K.

there are many ins and outs of that and

if you're interested I can tell
you lots more about that in the Q.

and A but
suffice to say it's an example of.

A government taking a real kind of top
down driven change program to actually

improve the citizen experience and to put
citizens needs 1st are you citizen and

resident interchangeably here but just
a side note which is that in San Francisco

we talk about residents not citizens
because we're sanctuary city and

not everybody who uses our
services is a citizen but they

are nonetheless a resident so that's why
I'm using those 2 terms interchangeably.

The other place we look to is kind of
best practice in this field is Boston so

Boston dot gov is.

A new initiative and I think in the U.S.
in terms of cities and

city government Boston is really leading
the way in some of this thinking and

they're there for much further ahead than
we are in San Francisco believe it or not.

And just kind of think about this
in conceptual models for a 2nd

you know I think in many organizations
not just government but we think about

the from the kind of customer facing
customer services where the interface

that you have with the organization
starts with your customer experience and

then there's like all this junk in the
back office which is like the systems and

processes that makes make everything
work and all these kind of complexities

internal departments and bits of
information flying all over the place and.

I think people used to think in government
about having like a customer service

center and then like kind of how you
doing all of that back office stuff but

the reality is that as a customer
we can feel that right we know when

some organization is like that doesn't
have things lined up properly because we

can tell because we get shunted into all
these different directions somebody we

call one number they tell us to ring
another number we come from one website

that looks one way and then suddenly we're
following a link to something else that

looks totally different or like home but
that we know when things are aligned

within an organization as a customer and I
think that it's kind of becoming more and

more and more prevalent so we need to
think about the customer experience as

the entire And not just the the bit that
people experience when they call us up or

when they come on our website.

When we talk about digital services
we're really talking about change and

transformation and
there are kind of 3 levels to that.

We see it is kind of like at the bottom
level we see these tweaks and

improvements like we change
the wording on this application form.

It's a slight This is a slight snark but
I see things like behavioral insights

which some of you might have come
across so this kind of idea of nudging

people to make the right decision I see
this is very much at the tweak level

like we change some wording we
applied some peer pressure and

like 50 percent more people paid their
taxes mostly number one like I've rarely

seen an intervention like that that wasn't
just changing the words on the letter so

there's that but also really like
kind of nudging pitbull 1st he has

kind of slightly moral implications that
we can get into later but also it's kind

of it's not trying fundamentally changing
much it's just kind of like improving

uptake of an existing service then we
have transactional transformation and

that's really like enabling you to do
something online enabling you to apply for

something get something we're putting
in Gage with the government and

its business processes in a digital way.

And that's cool and all but really and

it's definitely an improvement on what we
have right now so in in San Francisco but

it's not really changing anything where
it's not fundamentally transforming

the government or the organization that
people are interacting is just kind of

making it easier to engage with this
complex system true transformation comes

when you start asking for the mental
questions why do we have this business

process in the 1st place why are we
why do we have housing benefit and

all these assistance programs that we
might give to people to help them access.

Help and resources why don't we address
systemically the issues that create

poverty and how about we start thinking at
that level and that's true transformation.

What I'm going to kind of try and argue is
that like it's kind of impossible to get

to that 3rd level until you do some
of the thinking around the 1st and

Hierarchy of Needs right the kind of
the top level is almost like the self

actualization part of the Muslim
hierarchy but like if your basic problem

infrastructure doesn't work
then you can kind of forget it.

This is kind of saying the same thing but
this is a more detailed kind of

understanding of what the steps of toward
some of the digital transformation going

from like entirely paper based process is
like right now San Francisco if you want

to build something you have to
physically walk into a building and

get a paper form and fill it out by hand
in triplicate and then it will go off to

different departments that need it that's
what we're talking about when it's a paper

process is then we have like you know turn
that form into a fillable P.D.F. which you

can download an e-mail to somebody it's
a lease you can do it on a computer but

it's not ideal then we have kind
of like transactional change and

then after that we think about how do we
redesign the service completely so that

we're actually you don't have to fill in
multiple application forms you just fill

in one and it's a it's more efficient and
it's helping you get your results quicker.

And then how do we rethink
the entire nature of services and

how they're designed and some of the work
we did in features of was much more

about service redesign than it
was about transactional design so

we did some programs and
I'll give some examples later but

we did some programs thinking about for
example the nature of road transport and

how we get people who live in rural
areas to places they need to go and

how do we build different business
models to provide that service so

very different than thinking about
how do we make good web forms so

people don't have to come in person.

Like I said it's not really about
technology like it's very easy to make

websites very easy to make forms
we all know the technology exists.

It's really about the intersection of
these different design disciplines and

these different ways of thinking and
organization design is a big piece of that

however like I said if your plumbing
doesn't work then really there's no point

talking about building a more beautiful
house maybe that analogy works I'm sure.

This is sort of how we conceptualize
the technology infrastructure

within the city so we're nowhere near
this right now and some are Cisco but

this is where we'd like to be you have
a web interface which is you know we all

know how to make those but we're thinking
about services so instead of thinking like

get a permit you're thinking build a house
right that's the thing that the user is

trying to do is to build a house or to
open a business or to get married they're

not thinking about all the different
permits they need to do to get that.

To achieve that goal.

And then one of the pieces of
infrastructure that we need to be in place

to enable that So inevitably
services are made up of forms and

I spoke a bit about forms later but
they also need we need somewhere status

tracking like where's my application up
to in the in this process so we need some

technology that does that we need to
know you are who you say you are so

how do we verify your identity
we're probably going to ask you for

some money with a government let's
be honest so so how do you pay for

that thing online to make
that a seamless transaction.

How do we notify you and tell you when
something's changed something's up and so

these are all micro services if
you like that need to exist.

And then in order to be able to do
that we need some kind of A.P.I.

layer some kind of layer that connects
all these systems together and

then at the bottom we have alternately
like I showed you at the very start

what we're talking about connecting
into is actually very aging creaking

old systems and it would be great if
we could completely more completely

modernize the core financial system of
a city but that is so much work and

such a long term project that that would
be a complete destruction for our team so

what we're focused on is the residence
side of things but our job is to be able

to connect into those big systems so
as you're thinking about building

information systems for cities or for any
type of government entity you really have

to think about not just the interface and
making a really nice interface but

what is that connecting to and
how are you building an A.P.I. into.

The say we have a mainframe
like into mainframe.

How how you how are you going to deal with
that kind of thing because you honestly

can't fix anything until you're prepared
to like roll up your sleeves and

do that really hard
painful annoying work but

someone has to do it right I'm
hoping it's all of you in this room.

So what do I actually do well
I came into this job like very

kind of from the very U.K. perspective
thinking about the future of public

services redesigning transportation
redesigning meal delivery for

older people social care and then everyone
was like Have you looked at our website.

So you guys.

Have I mean this is kind of what
our current website looks like and

it's horrible it's really really horrible
Not only is it impossible to navigate

it just like it doesn't represent the best
of what we know that web design can do

in this modern era.

I was going to show you also the sheriff's
department website which I truly believe

is the worst we have but I couldn't bring
myself to put it on the big screen so

instead you have children you have
families so here is the thing we have 211

websites in the city like not just one
website for the city we have 211 every

department has their own website they also
have their own brand they also have their

own precious logo there some of them have
a visual identity they're very attached to

others of have the visual identity that
somebody is nephew made like 10 years ago

they have you know like we are we're kind
of in this crazy world where Actually

yeah it would be great to like redesign
some of the city's business processes but

we can't do any of that until we can prove
that it is possible to have a single

website for the city with
a consistent look and feel where

our residents aren't totally confused
to be amused by this weird time travel

that they've entered into to go back 20
years in technology terms as they try and

engage with us only to
find after clicking on

multiple websites that the thing they
wanted isn't there in the 1st place.

So we are building a new website that
is not the job I thought I would have

when I came to the scene county of
San Francisco I thought some Francisco is

the like it's at the forefront of
new technology right it's like

this is mind blowing place where
like all things are possible well.

I guess that we can talk about
this later I guess that.

It's not as simple as that and

I'll talk a bit about why we
have some of these issues.

Hopefully what we can do about it so
we're making a website we're putting our

services 1st these are the things
we know people want to actually do

making it possible to transact online it
looks really boring one of our users and

user testing actually was like is
a separate Cisco this is boring it looks

like Cincinnati now apologies to anyone
who from Cincinnati I've never been

there myself but so
I say this is not how alternately look but

this is our alpha and
it's actually life right now so

my goal was to have us get something
up working as quickly as possible so

we could start to prove that it is
possible to make technology quickly.

And so this is life right now.

Other things that we're doing is starting
to build out our digital services starting

to make it possible to transact online
one of the things we've done is

create a cannabis service which is.

Works here but in California is
legal now so it's been legal for

the past year so trying to build a way for

cannabis businesses to register
online is incredibly complex.

For reasons that we can go into later but
being a enabling people to transact

digitally and apply for that permit this
is the 1st example that we have that

I feel pretty proud about even though
I know there's lots of room for

improvement Another example is
the affordable housing service.

So previously this was a paper process so
if you wanted to apply for

affordable housing or
one of our 12 housing programs

to fill an application paper
application form by hand and

turned it in by a deadline many of these

So humans being humans they could
have like completed it early and

mailed it in but of course they all left
it to the last moment economy and a group

of students could identify with that but
you know just try to use your imagination.

And so of course to turn in
your paper application form it

suddenly became this big line
all the way around the block

as everybody was waiting
to turn in their paper.

Huge problem so
I'll talk about our process for

getting to this a bit later but we suffice
to say for now we made the service digital

and now you can apply for affordable
housing online and we've seen now all up

online is a huge achievement and

you know imagine if you're a single
parent you're working multiple jobs and

you have to take a day off work to stand
in line to hand in a paper form that's

what we were asking people on low incomes
to do and it's not fair so what what

they're now able to do is feel complete
online and get the results online as well

because previously what actually was
previously there was in person lottery.

So if you apply for affordable housing in
the qualify there is not enough affordable

housing in San Francisco
as many of you may know.

So if you apply for affordable housing
you're really just applying to be in

the in the affordable housing lottery and
there was I swear a legit actual

like hand turning lottery thing
with tickets inside it was a big

event people would show up in numbers to
find out where they lucky enough to win

in the housing lottery and then they would
you know pick up a number of confetti and

it was a big thing and we still have that
process we still have that luxury but

that is digital and it's done by
algorithm is completely random.

And people are notified because if you
didn't show up in person you may miss

the fact that you had one in the house in
a lottery now police will notify you if

you have one in the house in lottery and
then you have some time to get back to us

and then your application to go forward so
vast improvements across the board just by

taking with more use assented approach to
this is one of the projects that my team.

And then we come to forms.

And in particular my team is responsible
for redesigning the entire permitting

process so our goal is to have every
single permit the city issues with their

board more than 300 permits to have
every permit available on line that

goes by the stated goal is by 2020 let me
tell you now that's never happening so

probably by 2021 we'll have it's online.

This so this is one of the very

I just like I'm kind of a form so
I thought this is interesting but

if I see you yawning I'll skip over it but
this is one of the 1st forms and it was.

Issued by the British government.

Actually pertains to slavery so
it's incredibly sensitive

I use it as an example because this is
the impact that this has on people's lives

the go to the touch point with government
forms and so don't ever think that if you

are in a project redesigning a form for
government that your work is unimportant

because you are just designing a form
because this changes people's lives.

What it does is the idea of a form is
that it applies consistency and fairness

to a process where asking everyone for
the same information but putting them all

through the same process forms
are incredibly kind of integral within

government as an idea of fairness now we
can debate whether that's actually true or

not and how fair they are but let me tell
you forms can also be incredibly unfair

and so that's why design and technology
is so important because people's

lives are at stake with these pieces
of information that we're gathering.

This is the form that we designed which
looks very different as you can tell this

is the form that we designed for
cannabis businesses.

And this is a really really difficult
example for me because there are things

about this form that I really don't
like the design of it it's fine and all.

But what we're asking here is
are you somebody who should

be given the opportunity to jump ahead
of the queue in the permit process for

a cannabis business so we have all these
businesses that were selling cannabis

basically illegally for the past 3
years then we made it legal I mean need

that being San Francisco these big tech
companies are going to come in E.'s and

others who like just to be cannabis
online is a safe easy kind of cannabis.


And we knew that was going to happen and
what we wanted to do was support

these kind of like one person to person
businesses that had been running for

a while give them the opportunity
it's a very San Francisco thing to do

it's a very kind of honorable thing to
do and I think really important for

the kind of livelihood of people.

To preserve some of the character
of San Francisco but

what we are what we're asking them to
do is to prove to us that they were

impacted by the war and drugs in
order that we kind of can give them

like a jump in the key but
we're also we're essentially saying

a prove to us that we discriminated
against you like really if that

trauma by telling us how how we brought
that trauma to you in the 1st place

to me this is like not the way I would
go about designing a policy and this for

me is like super important to think about
technology design and policy as like.

Parts of the same thing because you
know we're asking people to give us

really sensitive information
here which they may or

may not feel comfortable giving us why
would they trust us we've just we've just

discriminated against them why now would
they trust us with this information

I mean I know it's cool it's cool things
have changed trust us but why would they

do that and so we have to work Willy hard
to build that trust back up with people so

this isn't just about designing a form
this isn't just about you know did you X.

This is really about thinking
through people's experiences and

their whole context.

So just to get a bit kind
of contextual about this.

My role so how did I get here today from
like doing local government stuff in

the U.K. to this some Francisco kind of
recognized that there was a problem in

that like they didn't have this consistent
digital experience for people so

there was a digital services strategy that
was developed about 4 years ago one of

the recommendations in that strategy
was that they should employ someone

to own this problem to own the fact that
services needed to be made to digital.

This is Naomi She's my boss she's
a city administrator and so

she she would say she's not a technologist
by any stretch of the imagination but

I think she cares passionately
about is about users and

residents having a good experience about
meeting people and meeting their needs and

meeting them where they are and that's
what she cares really passionately about

and honestly like I don't need her
to understand what an A.P.I. is

I need her to care about our residents and
that's what she does really really well.

And so so she so i Report to the city
administrator which I don't know

those of you familiar with the structure
organizational structure of cities but.

That's super senior and so
it's great that I get such access to

power within the organization because
it's very difficult to get influence and

leverage in the organization
I explained why later.

So that's why I sit organizationally and

then this is my team which you don't need
to really analyze the whole structure but

suffice to say I have basically
a mix of designers developers and

product managers on my team it's
a team of $25.00 right now.

And they all work on
different projects but

we have our 3 priorities which is making
the website put all the permits online and

continue to develop that housing
service that I showed you.

And so that's what everybody is hopefully
working on although I'm out of the office

is there probably like
tearing it up right now.

that's the basics if you like pausing for

really like clarifying questions OK so


I'm going to talk a bit about so
hopefully from what I've experienced so

far you can kind of see how this
is less about technology and

more about change right because there
are so many factors involved in this so

I'm going to talk a bit about
the conditions for change and

how I've seen change happen in these large
organizations because I'm assuming that

all of you at some point given your the
nature of your interest are going to want

to enter into careers that are about
changing and improving public policy or

public services and so
these are things that I've seen work.

I don't I'm not an academic
as you can totally tell so

this is like not a fancy framework but
this is just the way I think about this so

I think these are like the 4
conditions that need to be in place and

I'll go through each of them one by one
but having a burning platform having

That's I think that's a British phrase
because I sometimes say that in America

people like what on earth he talking about
so that means a sense of urgency something

that is like really driving the need for
this thing to happen and so

everybody's laser focused on making it
happen sooner accountability accurate

problem definition Richard talk about a
bit in a bit and then blame management so.

Start with this is in the U.K.

a public sector colloquially known as
the graph of doom I'm not kidding you like

the chief executives of cities will refer
to it as the graph of team this shows

the cost in red and orange you see
the cost of public services going up and

in blue you see the budget of
cities going down there are there

is not enough money in the public service
cities have had their budgets cut by 30

percent in the last 5 years that's
a 3rd of their budget has gone is huge.

And so that has really need
is only increasing input and

this is just I don't social care and
children services that doesn't include

waste disposal doesn't include street
cleaning doesn't include libraries doesn't

include any kind of parks or recreational
activities this is purely adults and

children social care which is seen as like
the 2 safety net functions of cities so

it's a really serious financial
crisis in this sector and so

what that has done is
really focus the mind on.

Digital public services because

there are 2 things that cities have at
their disposal costs money buildings and

people that's pretty much all a city
has honestly like buildings and

people pensions I guess is another one but
I really relates to people so.

Once you've sold off all your buildings
which many cities have to get these kind

of big capital lumps back in to subsidize
your work once you've done that

you're just left with people and so
all you can do is look for layoffs among

your workforce and the only way you
can make layoffs happen but sustain

some level of service is automation
right that's the only way that making

things digital is the only way that cities
can actually manage to make the layoffs

that they are required to make in order
to meet their financial challenges so

digital has become this kind of by word
for efficiency and financial savings and

so that has you would not believe
the focus that there is in the U.K. and

Europe I think more broadly on saving
money through digital and I can walk into

a meeting with a city without being able
to clearly say how much money I would be

saving with any given digital intervention
so that's that's where it is right now.

So this is the this is what I talk about
by burning platform like we're standing

on a platform and it's on fire so
we have to do something about that and

that is what's creating the impetus for

The next thing you see in
your accountability so

through the health care dot
gov crisis you can see that.

There was a real incentive to get it fixed
it was a kind of flagship initiative for

the a bomber administration and

so from the very top from
the president himself that.

That emphasis on digital and
doing things differently through digital

was made very clear this
is about my talking to.

Megan Smith who's the former C.T.O. for

the U.S. who's great should she ever get
a chance as he has been you should so

to listen to she's awesome.

So this senior counsel billeted a senior
about investment in making this happen is

also this is quite top down but it's
a really important factor condition for

change to happen the next
thing is problem definition so

oftentimes and this is I think where your
policy thinking really comes into play

of the in times where are looking to
a solution without framing the problem

properly and I think framing problems
as one of the kind of forgotten skills

of public service is but it's so important
because instead of saying how do you make

a better application form we might be
saying why are we asking for this permit

in the 1st place like what is another
way of achieving this policy outcome and

that's really important to be able to
entertain those different options so

here's an example of how you might from
a problem different in very simple terms

away from design a vase
which a vase story.

Which gives you know some weird and

wonderful shapes but
essentially the same thing is.

To design a way for plants to live in our
homes which gives you way more options way

more interesting things green walls
things that hang from the ceiling and

this is a way of kind of asking the same
question but in different terms to give

you different outcomes back to the very
beginning not quite by Madeline Albright

like we're kind of using the same framing
the same framework for asking questions

and for defining problems as we
were way back and we need to change

that we need to ask different questions
to get different answers and that is like

really quarter the policymakers
kind of tool kit I would argue.

The final one is.

Blame management so.

Runs the government excellent
program in Johns Hopkins and

she was to I saw her talk and she said
this about the culture of government and

it's true and people always talk about
risk aversion the public sector is so

risk averse you hear that all the time
it's not it's not risk averse people in

public service want to take risks where
their 1st 2 is playing their 1st so

when it goes wrong what
happens is they get blamed

they either get holder in front of
the media and put on all the headlines for

how they messed this thing up politicians
lose their position sometimes they can get

ousted from mistakes that happen
senior managers are often sacrificed

you know this thing when this program went
wrong we're going to we're going to fire

with someone's head must roll and
it's going to be the it's going to be

the person who you know is easiest to get
rid of which is often senior managers and

so it makes us naturally cautious like if
it goes wrong we're going to get blamed so

what you don't have to
manage the risk you have to

manage the blame you have to manage
an environment where it's possible to get

things wrong to mess up but to treat
it as a learning opportunity not as

a an excuse to get somebody fired and that
can be really difficult you know the last

thing you want to do is kind of like math
professors experimenting on our residents

because that's like you know some
horrific thing at the same time

we have to try new things and do things
differently in order to make progress and

you know that's something that
policy is really bad at trying

out ideas we don't often prototype
policies right we just write them and

they just kind of exist and that's
horrible and people on the front either

trying to implement and they're having
all these perverse consequences but

what can we do it's the policy instead
of like trying to build a framework for

prototyping policy where we can get
from like some broad policy intention

down to says more implementable solutions
that we've learned about in the way

what that requires is a really
mature attitude to risk and by.

So those are the kind of conditions
I need to exist for a change and

then are I'm just going to talk about
again through my experience things I've

seen models for change there
are probably many more out there but

these are the main ones that I've
seen as I've kind of done my work.

So kind of from this goes
from bottom up to top down

I can figure out how to make the arrow
straight that but essentially there

are programs in governments
that are like low risk low cost

pro bono programs we have one of these in
some of Cisco's school civic bridge so

it can met the tech companies with
what we're doing in the city and so

departments will say we have
a problem that we need help with and

then tech companies are consulting firms
will come a pro bono help us out for

a number of weeks to solve that problem
is great low cost is low risk for

us therefore blame we didn't
spend any money if it went wrong.

The downside is it still requires some
staff time but you kind of want that level

of commitment at least if your staff
aren't even willing to give time to them

is going to go anywhere anyway this is
actually how about housing service that I

talked about was developed so the housing
department was already to go out and

buy this huge giant almost like housing
system it's going to cost millions

it's going to be like you know
very typical I.T. program.

Google came in and did one of their
kind of super cool designs Sprint's for

a week came up with a different way of
solving the problem and the department

kind of were like their minds were
totally blown and they were like

We're going to do this all differently and
so that that's how they went forward.

So that's one way of doing it kind
of getting in some pro bono help

which is low risk another
way of doing it is what.

Actually a colleague in the A used
to call a trojan mouse so

this is a piece of software that you might
implement or a policy that you might

implement that is again very small
kind of a tweak quite low risk but

actually serves the purpose of like
making people question the fundamentals.

If you example.

Is good for piloting and that kind
of stuff like hey it's just a pilot

no big deal nothing to see here don't
worry don't get stressed it's just a pilot

like actually that pilot
can be the catalyst for

lots of change the next thing I see
a lot of this stuff is innovation labs.

Lots of places have innovation labs
it's either a physical space and

or a team who are charged with
bringing design thinking and

innovative ways of working into a city.

It's pretty cool I'd like to set up a
couple of these innovation labs myself in

the past I've always been a little
skeptical that because if you're not super

careful they can be innovation theater
like we have been bags we have posted

notes innovation but we all know that's
not what really makes innovation happen so

you have to be super careful about that.

And the other thing is you
can create this like us and

them right it's like all the cool kids in
innovation lab Rajar with their jeans and

their laptops and like Meanwhile we're
over here doing the real work so

it becomes a kind of comes like a play
room you know and it doesn't become like

a place that gets given serious problems
or things to organise and it can build

resentment right how come you get to wear
jeans to work we're not allowed to do that

you know it can be like this artifact of
innovation can become quite divisive if

you're not super careful super inclusive
of everybody in the organization.

They can work and

I think they're a good way of showing what
good looks like you know here is an area

where like we've kind of fenced off to
say the normal rules don't apply here and

this is what can happen if you really
empower people to make change happen so

it can be a good way of like kind of
putting a stake in the ground to say this

is what good looks like you just have to
be it has to be time limited and you have

to be really careful about it and then the
final way of seeing is like a full team so

like you know my team will be an example
of that where the leadership is

decided to invest heavily in digital and
they create an entire team of people who

actually doing this work and they become
a department within the organization.

I expect that my team or my job
doesn't exist in the next 5 years and

I'm kind of aiming for that because
what I would really like is for

the departments in the city to be able to
do this stuff themselves you know having

me as a single point of failure is
probably a risk I'm not super comfortable

with obviously and it's also not good for
the organization right it's not good for

it all to be concentrated in one person or
one team but everyone should have these

digital skills this is the new normal we
don't need a team to do this we just so

I scour the same kind of getting
some of these the problem right so

people can actually innovate and use
digital getting some kind of guidance and

help guides and play some training
communities of practice my hope is that

within 5 years you know I can start
to take a step back from this and

allow it to kind of run
itself however we choose.

I think of kind of talked
about most of this stuff.

This is a photo of the Government
Digital Service in the case so

this is what where like this kind of full
team idea has been taken to the maximum So

one point that the British government
was employing 300 developers

to make government digital and so
that is that's what happens when you have

all these conditions for change aligned
there was buy in from the top down so

government ministers were supporting this
this team there was huge investment behind

it they had all the skills necessary They
even created new job classifications for

designers within government because
that didn't exist before they

had to break the government pay scale to
make it happen so that they could recruit

the right kind of talent into the
organization they also had governance and

I won't touch too much on this but suffice
to say governance is like critical for

these things to happen because they
were able to actually stop people from

spending money on stupidity projects
that were doomed to failure.

And to kind of use financial levers
to force people to do things and

more agile way.

So this is all models but

like how what are some tactics
go through these quite quickly.

So one of the most powerful ways I've
found to make change happen I think this

is true both in policy and
in digital and innovation

is to start with the user need like go out
there and actually speak to the people who

are going to be using this service after
graphic research is one of the most

powerful ways of changing government I
have seen this work time and time and

time again observing people in their day
to day lives not just bring them in for

an interview but go where they are follow
them around we followed this guy we went

stalking him too much we followed this guy
on his journey through public transport to

understand how do people make decisions
in the moment about public transport

which then went on to inform how we
designed signage on public transit so

that people know what connections to
make and how to plan that out we also

I love this thing here this is
like a little detective kit so

we asked people with
children with autism to

do a kind of to be detectives for
us and to report on their day and

tell us what they loved what they hated
what stressed them out will cause them

anxiety and what they really enjoy and
so we kind of created these kids for

kids this is my last job.

Up there on the right is we went to.

A social club for older people kind of
put them all a pint and then sat down and

asked them to tell us about
their transportation needs so

it's not really about having them come in
and do an interview where you are it's

about going to where they are really
deeply understanding their lives

once you bring that back to policy
colleagues or politicians or

other people and really beautifully
show illustrate through photography and

other things the experience of uses and

I've seen people do a complete 180 on
their opinions just based on the emotive

nature of ethnographic research should
always be supported where possible by

quantity of data but those things
are doing different things right one

is about really understanding
motivations and experiences and

helping you come up with the ideas the
other is about help quantity of is about

helping you test those ideas assess them
work out what your priorities are and

they kind of point to in the direction
of what further research needs to.

The next thing is to just start small
like it's great to have big ideas but.

Starting with a paper prototype is
honestly again like one of the best things

people love to go in there with like
prototypes that are fully mocked up but

I've seen people not really give feedback
on those prototypes because they look too

finished they look too
polished the more scrappy and

kind of like rough you can make your
prototype the the richer the information

you get back about the quality of your
product and this could be the same with.

You can do this with
policy design as well so

this is some work that I
did with my company and

Play Station they actually were in this
situation they had perpetrators and

victims coming into the same entrance and
like really awkwardly waiting in the same

reception area to be seen when of
crime was being investigated so

they wanted to redesign the area so
we took all the furniture out and

just put it on the street and
kind of marked out the walls and

kind of reconfigured it multiple times and
so we came up with something that felt

like it might work and then we kind of
tried it out for a few days to see if it

made a change like that's a kind
of prototyping of both policy and

service that can you know they they saved
a bunch of money because otherwise they

would have just had like a bunch of
interior designers coming in and

building walls all over the place and
this actually like change the flow for

them so it doesn't have to be expensive
and starting small with it makes

it feel much more accessible
less threatening to people.

And yeah I think I'll just make this
like actual policy making being

able to change policy kind of iterate on
policy as you go is like one of the it's

something that's totally missing right now
in public service as far as I can see but

it is I think the future of policymaking
because things are moving so

fast and if you policies aren't
keeping up things break down.

The other thing is that I'm
sure you all know this but

technology isn't the end in itself and
I always feel like

kind of super concerned when I come in
as the digital officer people are like

you're going to make me a website or
you going to fix my computer and

really I don't care about technology like
it's nice I use it in my day to day but

it's not the end in itself right it's like
the thing that helps us do the thing we're

trying to do and I think if you can always
think about it in those terms then it

doesn't really matter what the systems are
underneath what matters is the end result.

And then I think it's really important and
I'm lucky that I have

a team of 2525 is not enough for the scale
of the problem that we have ahead of us.

Might be recruiting in July.

But this is my team or
some of my team they've been working with

the city actually for
many of them for almost 10 years so

kind of a long time city employees but
I managed to kind of like

drag them across under me and I'm really
trying to work on coaching mentoring and

supporting them to kind of think in this
new way and learn these new skills because

actually their experience navigating
the city is like crucial for this because

I don't know all these kind of complex
relationships that exist and they do.

Nonetheless like you it's great you
come in you have some progress brilliant

everyone's happy but of course at some
point the organizational mean system or

you are a virus right you are trying to
change the physiology of the organization

it will attack he hasn't
happened to me yet but

I fully anticipate next year gets
a major major backlash and so

just there's nothing you can do about that
that's what organizations are set up to do

especially government to preserve
the status quo the best you can do is just

know it's going to happen and
be ready for it and have tactics for

dealing with it don't ask me what mine
are I haven't figured it out yet.

You should other things contextually you
need to be aware of it like change goes in

boom and bust cycles in organizations and
sometimes it does even up to the economy

and this capitalist structure
that we seem to be stuck with.

Not being political just like it
seems to be a thing so we get this

kind of thing which we're in right now
right so I'm probably at the top of this.

Cycle where like everything's broken
there's like multiple websites now

the systems talk to each
other everything's the worst.

There are typically inevitably leads to
we need someone to own this problem and

fix it and they need to have a team so
we need to have a centralized digital

services team that is going to
kind of fix all the problems and

then they're like Well what we said we
want to own you to own this problem we

actually comment we just want you to help
us because Stop trying to tell us what to

do layoff which inevitably leads to like
this centralized team has way too much

power it needs to be decentralized this
should be happening within departments and

I've seen this cycle happen over and
over again which is why I say that like

within 5 years of me starting
this role I don't anticipate that

my team will exist anymore because that
cycle will inevitably come back around and

responsibility for this will be
devolved again that's OK That's just

the natural cycle of organizations and how
they work so that's something else to be

aware of as you're kind of thinking
through policy implications.

The other thing is just like I just kind
of want to rant about this for a sec.

Like if you think that you're not
a technology person which I'm hoping like

nobody in this room is but like I swear
to god there are people who in government

where technophobia as
a badge of honor they're like

I don't do that technology stuff
I leave that to my kids and

I'm like well you're failing in your
job because your job is technology like

Don't kid yourself that you can do a job
that doesn't involve technology it does

every single every single job involves
technology so don't go around parading

your lack of technology skills something
important because if you are anything

in an organization in a policy role in
a strategy role like you're not separate

from technology technology is the way by
which we achieve our policy outcomes so

this kind of like if you don't feel
confident in technology like that's OK but

get up to speed Google it
find out what an A.P.I.

is find out how technology systems work
understand how things integrate with

each other understand what systems
are out there because that is

part of your job with you like it or
not and the more people kind of

insist that it's not their thing

the less successful they're
going to be as time goes on.

So like I said in.

This kind of burning platform idea this
idea that like we need a sense of urgency

behind technology that doesn't really
exist in San Francisco right now

we have a really strong tax base we are
losing any money in actual fact we have

lots of tax dollars coming in and we just
keep taxing people more and more more for

more most of the people think
kind of OK with that as

well there's not been any kind of
citizen revolt it's just sort of happen.


But one of the things that people really
are concerned about is equity usability

user experience and so that is kind of
the platform that we're using to try and

promote changes Imus's go is
to kind of say well you know

yeah we might not be saving money here
that might not be our primary driver but

you know what we don't want anyone to
be excluded from using this service so

we're going to make it
the most accessible it can be.

We still have services running household
waste disposal is still run by city

employees that's not the case in many
other cities many other cities outsource

that jobs are protected you can't
talk about layoffs you can't talk

about any of the headcount stuff
it's heavily unionized city so

you need to kind of be mindful of that and
choose your battles.

I could see as I said it's like
one of the chief things and

income inequality and housing problems
you've probably read about if you have

witnessed it yourself firsthand alike
some of our most challenging issues they

are highly complex they can't be solved
by one policy intervention alone.

You see this tension between
the city city politicians and

the tech industry also plays into
that Marc Benioff is the C.E.O.

of sales force is kind of quite being
quite vocal against some of the city's

policies and we do have this problem
where we have this huge disparity in

income equality we're trying our hardest
to address that through our work by

making sure that everything we're
designing is fully inclusive so

that doesn't just mean a lot of people
think about accessibility as a disability

thing but I encourage you to kind of widen
your perspective and think about it across

the board so not just making sure
that our website is 88 compliant and

fully accessible to people with screen
readers but going beyond that language

access we have 4 main spoken languages
in the city making sure that it can be.

It can be translated into all
those languages making sure that

our content is no more than 5th grade
reading level like if you can't

explain it a 5th grader it doesn't go on
the website because partly because people

are busy who has time to read all that
junk partly because it's much easier to

translate when it's in simple language and
partly because we know that children

are accessing our website on behalf of
their non English speaking parents so

that is also something you
really need to bear in mind.

In addition to that we're also thinking
about income equality so making sure that

our code is light that we don't have lots
of videos and photos because that eats up

people's data plan and inadvertently what
we're doing is taxing people who are on

a data plan which is invariably people on
a low income using our services because

we have the vanity to assume that they're
going to want to download a massive image

of someone smiling like that is not all
that is not what a city is there for

right it shouldn't be about a website it's
not our P.R. machine it's our service

delivery mechanism and so trying to make
sure that all of our services are fully

accessible is in the broadest sense
something that we're thinking about.

Yes I am almost on just to say that.

In Europe or in the U.K. in Europe in
particular things are highly centralized

in government and so when I came into this
job I had to rethink everything I knew

about change management because I was very
used to kind of quite top drawer are quite

top down driven programs of change.

I think maybe this is a US thing I
think it might be but I see a lot more

fragmentation both in the federated system
that you operate here in the separation

of powers and in this organizational
structure which is the structure of

the city of San Francisco where you'll see
that this isn't even the full thing but

there are like $54.00 departments
in the city and they're all more or

less on a level this is by contrast a U.K.
structure this is a chief executive and

like a senior team of 7 people who but
that's what the piece is

worth it's enough for them to be able to
get around a table and hash out issues and

differences and
questions when you have such a large scale

organizational hierarchy that is like
pretty even power and relationships

are like absolutely key in being able
to navigate those absolutely key.

That means quite often we rely
on vendors or nonprofits or

other organizations outside of the city to
connect the dots within the city I can't

tell you how many times
a vendor has said to me

yeah we're also working with the
environment department where you are and

then I have to call up the environment
department to be like hey you working on

this digital thing I'm like yeah yeah yeah
but I only know that because 3rd parties

have the overview of our
organization more than we do.

It also means that consensus building is
totally a superpower and the people who do

best in the city are people who
are best building those relationships.

And this is really my final thought which
I don't know it's not really an academic

theory but it's definitely
a hunch I have which is that

has anyone lived in Europe or the U.K.
before spend any time.

Couple nods So
this is pressure it's a grab and

go sandwich place it's pretty
straightforward there are like 7 types of

Samaj you pick one of the shelf you pay
you barely have to speak to a human

to have humans there but
it's mostly for show I think.


Also they do exist in New York just to be
fair that exists in New York now but for

a long time it didn't exist in the U.S.
and you say you grab your sandwich so

there's like a choice of 7 sandwiches and
like if there's something that you

don't like in the sandwich because you're
British you take that sandwich home and

then you pick out all the bits that
you don't like and you leave them on

the side and then you complain about how
they always have too much Mayo in their

sandwiches and that's basically how
we buy sandwiches in the in the U.S.

you have to go to a deli and
speak to a stranger and

tell a stranger how much Mayo you
like in your sandwich it's so

weird why would you do that why would
you share that information but.

Why do you just want to
complain about it afterwards.

But I think this is like there's
something here in the kind of the U.S.

psyche about like weak asking for what you
want and getting that if that means you

have to stand in line and talk to a person
then that's something you're prepared to

do because it means that at the end of it
you get exactly the thing that you want

and so I think this maybe speaks a little
bit to why a public service is in the U.K.

are more digital than they are in the U.S.
because I think we will do anything

not to speak to a person literally
anything including invest millions and

millions of pounds in government to make
it digital so we never have to speak to

a person and tell them about our
circumstances I think here in the U.S.

people actually I see people you know want
to speak to somebody want to have that

interaction and maybe it's changing with
a different generation I'm not sure but

my sense is that that that's something
that is kind of there to the U.S.

And so I think one of the things
that we need to do is

just be mindful of that as we're
designing services not make them

completely without devoid of
human interaction because I think

I have a feeling that might be
really important culturally here.

So I'm not really sure what I
mean in the bigger picture but

that is definitely
an observation that I've made.

I guess my final point is like to work in
the public sector to do this work it's

a careers worth of work you won't get it
done you won't get anything done in 2

years you belong if you get something done
in 5 years for me personally it's been.

I still don't feel like I've made that
much of a dent in the system so for

many people this is their whole
careers work so just be sensitive and

careful when you kind of trash government
and say how bad government is and

you know if there are a lot of that today
we all just have to really bear in mind

that like there are many people working
tirelessly day and night to try and

make public services better just try to be
patient with that I know it's difficult to

be resilient if you're entering this field
you have to be able to bounce back from

some of the failures that will inevitably
happen that's just it and so finally my

final plug is that like if you have
the resilience and the patience and you're

interested we probably be recreating
from July on my team looking for

designers develop and product managers but
honestly it's not just about my team like

if you're remotely interested or enticed
by any of these challenges and problems

that I've talked about then please work
for government because all cities at all

levels only is a polities federal
government created need people like

to help them better thank you for
having me.


Thank you.

He thank you so much we have a bunch of
questions here that came in from people in

the audience so let's get started and
used to the 1st question I have here talks

about you mentioned that San Francisco is
a sanctuary city so can you talk about any

particular challenges with earning trust
of undocumented residents and making

sure they are accounted for in these
digital systems and not overlooked Yeah.

Well I think cannabis is one of
the areas where it's really come up.

As well.

We really see a reluctance to engage with
services and really see that people don't

necessarily want to talk to the government
about things we actually as a sanctuary

city we're not allowed to ask people for
identification documents or

a residency documents are not allowed
to do that but people don't realize

that because like you know it's kind
of we're just the government so

there's a couple of things one thing
is as we're designing the website

we have to be really mindful of this
opinion in this feeling about government.

And try not to make
the site to government.

And I reference Boston site earlier and
when you go in there you'll see that it's

quite government nice really nice but
definitely a government Web site and

we have to walk this really fine line
between not looking to government because

that's like the symbol of oppression for
many people but at the same time being.

Official and or 3rd to tive so
that people have trust in our services so

that's like one minor thing I
think what I've learned is that

while people don't necessarily trust the
government they will trust nonprofits and

there to represent and support them so.

Well often instead work
with advocacy groups.

Even with user testing it's pretty hard to
get people to come come to the government

and agree to give an opinion or
sign up for something like that but

what we do is we work with those like
sector organization nonprofits and

have them kind of broker agreement for
us and help us with some of that work so

that's one way to kind of gather
include those experiences

thank you we have lots of questions
about privacy and privacy concerns So

where do privacy protections come into
play particularly in today's political

climate where there are concerns about
sharing sensitive data between different

units of government and an example cited
was the sensitive information submitted to

get a cannabis business to jump ahead
in the line and maybe that information

shouldn't be considered when applying for
a job in a city.


I wish that we could share data between
like I wish we were that organized and

our systems are good enough for us to be
able to share data honestly and I think

there are times when we should be sharing
data because we're providing services to

people we're asking them to tell us
the same information multiple times and

it's just like really unfair on people but
we our systems just aren't good enough

to be able to talk to each other so
that's one part of it like I think people

think that the government is able to do
things with data but they just aren't able

to do it certainly at the municipal level
I don't know about their the federal level

but certainly in this city level we
literally can't join up half the data we

have even where we should be able to
say we can do it so it's one thing.

With cannabis Absolutely and.

We did some stuff to separate out
the personally identifiable information so

that my team can see it only
the Office of cannabis can see it so.

We're cognizant about like who has access
to that information how they do that

also where it's hosted we
make sure that secure and

encrypted we also something we've
given a lot of thought to subpoenas so

for that application form are actually
using 3rd party software.

So we have a contract with a kind of
software developer who helps us make

those forms.


We had to be really sure that when
the data was coming in like the feds could

actually subpoena the company to get
that information a lot of it's publicly

accessible criminal history is publicly
accessible information so it's not like.

They can piece it all together but
here we have like

this beautifully compiled list of people
who have criminal history who have.

Been in the cannabis industry for
some time.

That's basically a hit list for us so we
have to be really careful about how do we

work with that company to make sure that
if they are subpoenaed they come to us 1st

before they respond immediately to a
subpoena so that our city attorney and our

litigators can get in between that process
and argue as to why it's not a proper.

Response or subpoena so we did think
about privacy across the whole level.

The city also has just
passed some privacy laws.


Honestly it's extremely
political kind of thing.

Kind of a lot of political stuff going on
there but actually doesn't matter because

next year I think later this year actually
maybe next year the state has actually

implemented this is the other thing about
working in city government occasionally

the state decides and stuff and
you kind of don't really have any choice.

And privacy rules have been
implemented at the state level

which are kind of going to.

Impact on how we deal with
privacy issues the city level.

Next question as part of the Digital
Services Program in San Francisco already

using or considering using algorithmic
decisionmaking systems for public services

and there are a couple examples like
Montes in L.A. to a stance rest for and

house people or in Pennsylvania
to assess risk of child abuse.

Not to my knowledge I don't
know of any that are happening.

It's something people talk about but
I don't know that point without data.

Across the board where we could use
it to make those kind of decisions.

I think that would be like aspirational
as long as we can be sure the algorithms

are explainable and
transparent and you know.

I think there needs to be some
kind of governance around

which we don't currently have.

Creeping queue there are a few questions
around the issue of enter net access so

does your team discuss free enter
net access across possibilities for

residents and how do you balance the needs
and realities of constituencies that

perhaps don't have access to these
technologies I access to the Internet.

San Francisco access to the Internet
is pretty high as you could imagine

service so it isn't always that
great speeds can be slow and

I think that increasingly that's an
inequality that we'll end up talking about

rather than access or no access eventually
it will be about speed of access.

We do think about.

How I mean the team is
digital services right so

is there for
people who do have access to the Internet.

But we have a kind of
digital inclusion program

which is sort of separate to my team.

And that that program works with libraries
with community based organizations to help

train people in digital list receive and
helping them.

Access through libraries and
other programs.

Like P.C. donation programs like I think.


I think we're definitely taking a mobile

the mobile 1st with
the desktop kind of like it was

still works but we have a mobile
experience is what we're going for

because we know that even
this woman I have a computer

you probably have access or a cell phone
so that's something we're trying to do and

that's another reason why we need to keep
our code low maintenance and kind of.

Fast and responsive.

So next question is how do you and
your individual role reconcile

the insensitivity is a policy such as the
great example you gave about the cannabis

with what you're able to do right now.

Sometimes it's difficult.

I tend to think that we're at least
making it better even if we're not fixing

it entirely or at least make it better and
that by starting small as I said by

like by proving that like digital can make
a positive impact by then they bring us to

collect data by enabling us to go out and
talk to users and do user research and

testing we can start to bring those
experiences back in to policymakers and

say look you know we've talked
to 10 users this week and

they've all told us that this is like
overly burdensome or like this is causing

them some upset in some way is there
any way we can change the policy and

start to try and
influence from the other direction I think

it would be nice to be able to kind of
have the latitude to redesign policy and

digital because that's really
how it should be right but

I think we have to start with the inroads
that you have in mind is digital so

kind of just try and use that as a way
of getting in there and then land and

expand as they sometimes say something.

The next question as you discuss the value
of coming to those who are chroma public

service background rather than a technical
one what do you wish technical experts

know about what it takes to work well and
bring about change in public services.

I think patience and resilience is.

Actually saw an article
recently where someone from

the Electronic Frontier Foundation
called public servants lazy and

stupid let me tell you
that is not the way.

To get people from public service to
work with technologists and so I think.

Kind of understanding how hard
it is to make change happen and

having some empathy for that is like.

Most important I think also just like
basics of like understanding how H.R.

and procurement work which are 2 of
the hardest things to fix in government.

It's it's really hard to buy things and
it's really hard to hire people and

it's really hard to fire people so those
are some of the big barriers in there like

super real barriers to
making change happen so.

Understanding that how government actually
works you don't have to be a government

expert but at least do the courtesy also
honestly just google stuff like I can't

tell you the number of times a vendor is
like let me talk to you about your you

know your fiber network needs and I'm like
if you Googled me in my role you would see

that that's not my responsibility
as the responsibility of the I.T.

Department which is separate from it like
it's so basic but they don't even take

the time to do that so I guess if you're
coming at it from a technology angle then

like I dunno just Google the crap out of
the person you're about to talk to us.

Yeah I think that's our last question so
thank you so

much thanks everybody thank you.

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