The presentation took place on Friday Jan.19th at the end of our research week.

We used this as an opportunity to present our findings rather than a product or prototype. The week had given us new insights into the Bristol community and the open data terrain.

In order to get the most out of our time in Bristol in contact with players on the field, we concocted an informal presentation using the content produced by the team. This would embody the “work in progress” nature of the work and give freedom to team members to input as they liked.

An opportunity to sense check and collect City Hall feedback.

We presented to Kevin O’Malley (City Innovation Team Manager) and Matt Davenport (Open data project manager)

Key points we made - see here

Mind the Gaps has evolved.

In the proposal, Mind the Gaps was ‘a map aimed at solving city inequalities by highlighting the pathways to their resolutions.’

After mapping the context (geographical, sociological, political), Mind the Gaps could be…

  • A sensitive, live, project close to citizens needs.
  • A data collection tool
  • Creates rich data sets about people and cities
  • A data visualisation
  • Participative
  • Understandable

Project principles - Replicable, Open, Accessible, Participative, Independent


Context in collaboration / ways of working

There was an element of risk taking on Kevin’s part, letting a team he’d never worked with before into City Hall and arranging meeting with senior people.

He was very pleased with the output and the way it worked out. It was enjoyable for him and the team provided deep insight into the Open Data landscape there.

Kevin and Matt would have liked to support us more but the start of the new year was very busy for them both.

They were very pleased with the iterative approach of the project and our open documentation. Both come from user-centered design backgrounds and value that this was at the core of the project.

Political context / City and council scales

The newly elected Mayor of Bristol, Marvin Rees, is committed to reducing inequalities. He is also committed to building a faithful picture of inequalities in Bristol rather than a top down vision of local analysis.

With major cuts in funding happening on all areas, Matt warned us about a ‘feedback loop’ from citizens. The relationship with the council has eroded due to those budget cuts.

The Council has to slowly become an enabler (of citizen-led initiatives) rather than a broker.

A lot of the work now has to go toward building those relationships and that trust.

Kevin and Matt regretted not having more time to spend on the project but they also felt their role was to make sure we were not affected by some of the more “gnarly issues” (the slow pace and bureaucracy) of local government. They felt their job was to create that gap for us to work in and to be creative and innovative.

They see Mind the Gaps as having similar underpinnings to “The Bristol Approach” - citizen sensing.

They added that a cultural shift needs to happen — local government have to relinquish their posture as an “authority”, they need to loosen their grip on power, especially on something as powerful as data.

Local authorities have a resistance to change baked into themselves, and there’s always a little nervosity around data analysis. Our project could ruffle the feathers of people in the Council whose job it is to collect and analyse data, and are very focused on ‘robust’ data. We might encounter resistance to the notion of citizen data.

Spectrum of Views

  • We (Local authorities) collect data; we are good at it
  • Citizen data is seen as volatile within the local authority.
  • The current position is top down, needs shifting or incorporating bottom up, or citizen data. Transition to middle ground - top down <> bottom up
  • Citizen Sensors - Lack of accuracy, reliability. The data produced is not robust enough - in the eyes of local government.
  • Reframed: shift - gap in who owns and understands the data = restrictions / resistance
  • Mind the Gaps team have successfully met key contacts and “squeezed the juice” to create rich insights

On how Mind the Gaps could be useful specifically for Bristol local government

The Mayor’s key commitments are in line with our ideas - this will appeal to his political sensibilities - give our project traction, backing and profile.

It has a lot of synergy with the One city plan they are launching (baselining existing strategies, focusing on key areas and co-designing with citizens).

We could take it straight to the top, to the Mayor (“the guy with the biggest gun in town”)

Matt, during our discussion earlier in the week, had mentioned one of the things they could be working on using open data is a ‘City Dashboard’ for the Mayor — it could potentially include that type of data (quality of life / wellbeing / inequalities by ward).

To make this project useful beyond the Mayor’s office, we thought of other ways it could be applied to benefit Council departments, things we’d seen in good design structures or government digital services.

The map / data visualisation could be displayed on screens within local governments and could help prioritise efforts or drive data-driven approaches. Make apparent how it could benefit public servants in the impact of their day to day work.

(Matt mentioned the example of the Airbnb experience map.)

They liked…

  • The iterative style of the research and presentation style.
  • The open format in which we work
  • Our sketches, would like to see more

Watch out…

  • Feedback loop
  • Council thinks<>Community needs
  • We don’t think we know… about the needs of citizens