What do you think of DCC Beta Projects itself?

DCC Beta Projects has been running for about 7 months, and is ITSELF a Beta, and itself has considered the Beta criteria (it was responding to a ‘Need’, is a ‘strategic platform’ – an idea that can change and grow and help launch others’ ideas…and so on).

We’re going to ‘pause’ DCC Beta for a few weeks, and during that time we’d love to get your feedback…so here’s a whole PILE of questions to get you thinking!

UPDATE: DCC BETA IS ACTIVE AGAIN, THANKS AGAIN FOR YOUR FEEDBACK!

(Here’s why we’re ‘pausing’ DCC Beta for a few weeks…

DCC Beta Projects was initiated from within the City Architects Division of Dublin City Council, and at the moment (as it’s just a Beta Project itself) is mainly managed by an individual as a ‘10% Innovation Time’ project – albeit with lots of fantastic help and input from other individuals in Dublin City Council. By “managed” we mean updating of the blog, Facebook, Twitter, checking emails, etc.

As that individual is due to go on some annual leave shortly for personal reasons, we thought that it would be a perfect time to do something that we’ve wanted to do for ages…get your feedback on ALL aspects of DCC Beta itself!)

Feel completely free to say whatever you’d like, nothing in DCC Beta isn’t relatively easily changed, or that we’re precious about. For example this version of WordPress is the free one, and the logo was created simply using MS Word in the space of a half-hour or so. In terms of the Beta Projects, the most expensive individual one to date was about €300.

DCC Beta – General

  • Is DCC Beta a good idea or not? Why?
  • What aspects do you like about DCC Beta, or what do you not like?
  • Any suggestions on the “Dublin City Council Beta Projects” or “DCC Beta Projects” name itself?
  • Any suggestions or comments on the logo?
  • Do you know of any similar examples to DCC Beta that we could look at, and learn from?

DCC Beta – Communicating

  • What do you think of the blog – is there anything that we should add/remove/change, and so on?
  • DCC Beta’s on Facebook and Twitter, and sometimes we’re not sure if we should be writing mini-blog posts and then posting them up on Facebook or Twitter instead of directly writing them into those social media. Any guidance for us there?
  • Would you like, or recommend, us to be on any other social channels…Pinterest for eg?
  • We sometimes find it difficult to track and record (especially as a part-time project) all of the different channels…email, blog comments, Facebook comments, Facebook wall posts, Twitter @replies and #DCCbeta tweets, some postal items…and so on. We hope we’re responding OK, but either way we’d love to hear your thoughts or if you’ve any suggestions for us.
  • Would you like us to do other things…for example hold a regular monthly lunch whereby you could just have a coffee with us and discuss something?
  • When you’ve seen a physical Beta Project, have you known that it was a Beta Project (we put laminated bright-yellow sheets next to them…all so far, except for the traffic light boxes, which we’re due to do)? Any suggestions with regard to that?

DCC Beta – Projects

  • What types of Beta projects would you like to see more of? What would you like to see less of?
  • Is there any type of info would you like us to provide to you about Beta Projects that we don’t currently do, or currently do too much?
  • Should it do something else to get feedback on your input into the City?
  • We know it’s still early days for the various Beta projects, but would you like to know more about where Betas might go, or be going? If so, why?
  • Would you like to see more strategy or structure to the Beta Projects being carried out, or are you happy with the way it is? (There’s a certain degree of strategy and structure, but we haven’t as yet done a blog post on some of the background to it. There also partly isn’t too much structure or strategy as that allows the idea to develop in a way that’s probably more natural, rather than having to conform to a pre-conceived notion.) Would you like to suggest a particular strategy or structure? If so, if could explain why you’re suggesting what you’re suggesting…as always! 🙂

DCC Beta – Beta Area

At the moment all Betas are carried out in a particular ‘Beta Area’, and this explains why.

  • What do you think of that idea?
  • Would you suggest a different Beta Area? (The main thing to bear in mind that it needs to be a good TEST AREA, anything else is secondary.)
  • Perhaps the Beta Area could move from year-to-year? If so, why?
  • Perhaps there could be a few Beta Areas at the same time, each one able to test slightly different things – for example one which included some of Dublin Bay or a canal might be able to look at additional items. Or a suburban one might test some very different things, or have very different outcomes or feedback.

Perhaps we’ve missed something above…any other suggestions or feedback that you’d like to give us?

So! After this Friday 26th October, we’ll see you all again a few weeks later, and in the meantime, we unfortunately won’t be in a position to reply to any comments here, or on the social mediums, or email, but we certainly will be looking forward to reading it all in a few weeks…and we’ll use it all to help us revise DCC Beta Projects (assuming for a moment you think it’s a good idea) to version 2.0. (We’ve a good few changes that we already want to make ourselves…based on your questions and feedback over the past 7 months.)

We’d also like to take this opportunity to again thank each and every one of you who contributed a comment or suggestion to us to date…you’ve been great! 🙂

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About Dublin City Council beta

Dublin City Council are trying a new method called DCC Beta Projects...your input, then quick trials 'on the street', then your feedback! We'd LOVE your help!
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5 Responses to What do you think of DCC Beta Projects itself?

  1. DCCbeta says:

    Tom (of Exchange Dublin) emailed us in the below comments, and we cleared it with him to post them up here (to make it public, to generate discussion, etc)…

    From: Tom Stewart
    Sent: 03 December 2012
    To: betaprojects
    Subject: A few thoughts on the Beta / Feedback

    General
    • Is DCC Beta a good idea or not? Why?
    Yes. There is huge need for experimental and design thinking in relation to urban development. Beta projects allow a degree of relatively organic ‘Urban Acupuncture’ style developments, with minimal lead-time, and allow feedback testing from ‘presumers’ of services.
    • What aspects do you like about DCC Beta, or what do you not like?
    While not a criticism, some degree of thematic unity in the problems to be solved, or needs to be addressed, could create greater coherence.
    • Do you know of any similar examples to DCC Beta that we could look at, and learn from?
    ‘Urban Acupuncture’ in Taiwan.

    DCC Beta – Communicating

    • DCC Beta’s on Facebook and Twitter, and sometimes we’re not sure if we should be writing mini-blog posts and then posting them up on Facebook or Twitter instead of directly writing them into those social media. Any guidance for us there?
    Depends on attention and resources. The easiest route is just keeping fb and twitter as secondary vectors, with the blog as the primary organ of communication.
    • Would you like us to do other things…for example hold a regular monthly lunch whereby you could just have a coffee with us and discuss something?
    Very much. Physical events, whether short coffee-morning familiarizations, or more ambitiously service jam or hack-weekend style events, with presentations as part of the opening and inviting groups to continue on with developed concepts could at low cost spread the ‘beta’ brand and practice, and develop an engaged community of beta-influenced practitioners.
    • When you’ve seen a physical Beta Project, have you known that it was a Beta Project (we put laminated bright-yellow sheets next to them…all so far, except for the traffic light boxes, which we’re due to do)? Any suggestions with regard to that?
    Yes I have. In the event that space doesn’t permit, a low-key brand insertion of the logo would be sufficient. I wouldn’t see a need to go overboard and reduce the impact of the intervention itself. Medium is the message here 🙂

    DCC Beta – Projects
    • What types of Beta projects would you like to see more of? What would you like to see less of?
    Let a thousand flowers bloom 😉
    For me, it is more important that they happen, rather than to work out the ‘right’ ones in advance.
    • We know it’s still early days for the various Beta projects, but would you like to know more about where Betas might go, or be going? If so, why?
    Yes. A possible criticism of beta-style interventions would be that they could be patchwork and lack any continuity path to more complete packages to be launched – to continue the software metaphor, endless betas = vaporware. While betas are temporary, the possible end-result should be highlighted, to contextualise the ‘proof of concept’ phases.
    A strategic overview – Dublin in 2020 style – could show how various concepts or interventions, once scaled, join up and create a different cityscape (whether visibly or invisibly) to the one we currently have, as well as function as an imagineering project of participative planning in and of itself
    Persona-based user experiences and visualization aids could aid in communicating these ‘sneak peeks’, as part of a beta platform-style event.
    • Would you like to see more strategy or structure to the Beta Projects being carried out, or are you happy with the way it is? (There’s a certain degree of strategy and structure, but we haven’t as yet done a blog post on some of the background to it. There also partly isn’t too much structure or strategy as that allows the idea to develop in a way that’s probably more natural, rather than having to conform to a pre-conceived notion.) Would you like to suggest a particular strategy or structure? If so, if could explain why you’re suggesting what you’re suggesting…as always!
    [whoops i should have read ahead – looking forward to that blog post!]

    In the initial bootstrapping period, throwing stuff at the wall is a great idea, even-especially the ‘bad ideas’. However there is a time-limit, both in attention and reception before it all could become interpreted as disconnected or incoherent in application.
    The same beta format or modality can be applied to developing small-scale strategic positions: take a small test area, add some defined thematics to be addressed (whether crowdsourced from stakeholders or top-down eg from Public Realm Strategy), and run ‘seasons’ of content, with a defined reflective period with feedback loops (ratings, votings, ‘where next’, or where could use the improvement most).
    Similarly, in a strategic sense, some visualization or explanatory in relation to how an intervention would function if scaled as a self-reinforcing system, and how they might interact with other structures or interventions.
    So, on the Tintin-in-Dublin style betas, are there intentions that these should be used as micro-galleries on an ongoing basis? If so, how would this be curated/by whom? A patchwork street gallery, rhizomatic yet coherent across areas?
    Another hypothetical example would be with the temporary bicycle stands, and how they might relate to Dublin Bikes schemes. Could one deploy temporary Dublin Bikes nodes, gain usage feedback prior to implementation of permanent fixtures, and have spare capacity on a modular node basis to scale provision as-need? Could these nodes integrate with other elements, eg mesh-style wifi provision?
    The ‘why’ of my suggestions hinges around scaling the beta concept, that with more spread the need for intelligibility of intervention and differentiation will increase, as will the requirement for process-based openness and public involvement or buy-in. Creating a sense of ownership or involvement would seem the necessary prophylactic against the sense of removal and lack of relation of Council projects to the people of areas, whose acceptance is critical going forward.
    Just a quick 2c, thanks for reading 🙂

    Tom

  2. Marion says:

    I think it’s a great idea ! Dublin need more art in the street. With this idea it’s completely included into the city. Plus, it’s much more beautiful with this art than without. Keep continue !! Really ! You should do more in my opinion. Do photographie exposition in the street for example. Bring art to the Dubliners !
    🙂

    • DCCbeta says:

      Thanks for the feedback Marion!

      “You should do more in my opinion.” – what other ideas would you suggest?

      Your suggestion of photos is a nice idea – would you do it in any particular way? (And do you mean on the traffic light boxes?)

  3. DCCbeta says:

    We received the below by email…

    Since I came across DCC Beta Projects I have been very curious, as it is so related to some of the topics I am active in. In fact, I am mentioning your approach in some lectures I am doing lately. Today I made up my mind to write you with some feedback over some of the questions you raise.

    DCC Beta – General
     Is DCC Beta a good idea or not? Why?
    From my point of view, it is brilliant and, to some extent, innovative in the sense that this idea of prototyping, early-stages approach, beta urbanism or whatever you call it, is mostly promoted outside city councils (community organisations, professionals or design/consulting agencies are leading these initiatives) and usually have a temporary scope.

     What aspects do you like about DCC Beta, or what do you not like?
    Where it comes from. As far as I know, it is something coming from a city council service as an exploration about opening new ways to approach public service. And second, I think it is remarkable how you went live without having everything under control. Just a blog, a Twitter and a big challenge, that´s all. Sometimes these kind of challenges die buried under too much planning, too many schedules that won´t be achieved and the need go live with all the possible answers. So, promoting beta project from a beta approach. Not usual in public policies at all.

     Any suggestions on the “Dublin City Council Beta Projects” or “DCC Beta Projects” name itself?
    Probably “beta projects” is not enough, too general. Names are always a nightmare (that balance between accuracy and closeness), but it would probably work better adding a general issue (urbanism, streets,…). Dublin Streets Beta Projects? Just a bad suggestion.

     Any suggestions or comments on the logo?
    Not an expert, but I think it is not catchy enough. The β symbol is not enough to express the idea.

     Do you know of any similar examples to DCC Beta that we could look at, and learn from?
    Lots of projects could be mentioned from different perspectives. Urban prototyping or adaptive urbanism are two topics very close to your approach but, as I already mentioned, few initiatives are led by local council units. Other inspiration could be all the work some councils are doing around open data, apps, and digital strategies. Lots of examples, but try with New Urban Mechanics in Boston, as it shares some values with DCC Beta Projects. Let me know if you are interested, I can share a list of projects that could be an inspiration (and I am sure you will know some of them at least).

    DCC Beta – Communicating
     What do you think of the blog – is there anything that we should add/remove/change, and so on?
    Just let it grow organically as DCC Beta grows. More structured, user-experience oriented, better access to the projects, a more attractive homepage (this particularly),…

     Would you like, or recommend, us to be on any other social channels…Pinterest for eg?
     From my experience, use Delicious as a social bookmark (tagging will make your life easy to find that articles after years) as it could enhance your common work –everyone of you bookmarking and letting other know internally what others are finding- and build a collective knowledge database. And Tumblr to do the same but more oriented to find inspiration with first impressions visually (again, tagging and following the right people will save you a lot of time) and to cover your idea of “mini-blog posts”.

     Would you like us to do other things…for example hold a regular monthly lunch whereby you could just have a coffee with us and discuss something?
     Ah, that would be so great and Bilbao is so far from Dublin. But for sure, as far as you can manage it, opening your own walls and the project with other people will only bring good things. You can even try different formats, from very informal meetings to more formalised events oriented to whatever objective: networking, present or discuss your own ideas, raise creativity and possible interventions from other people around, events oriented to production (design processes, etc.). But this needs to be natural and gradual. And, certainly, more important that social media to create your local network.

    DCC Beta – Projects
    As a general suggestion of reflection from the distance, I would say it is not clear –at least from reading you blog- the overall idea and what the projects envision. Beta is great but it reaches the next stage when direction is clear. Probably you have that clear, but those who find the projects of know about them maybe not and, in that case, in this kind of project there is a risk to appear as anecdotic or not real change.
    Also, the projects should be relevant to common people. Sometimes we are able to justify ourselves delivering some interventions with a big concept in itself but, at the end, what people see is just a painted wall, a traffic signal,…I don´t want to be misunderstood because of course I understand what it is behind this kind of projects, but they have to be significant, easy to understand for everyone in the way they bring real changes in the way we live in the city, the way we walk a sidewalk or we enjoy a morning in the playground with our kids.
    This is one of the risk of certain tactical interventions (guerrilla gardening, seed bombing, crossing paintings,…): it´s fun, we can make a discourse and theory about it, but sometime a long term impact is missing.

    DCC Beta – Beta Area
     What do you think of that idea?
     A great idea, absolutely. You concentrate efforts and focalise the interest of people and create a chance to gain more attention in an hyper-local approach. This way it can be easier to engage organisations and people, generate a sense of ownership in the area about the projects.

     Perhaps the Beta Area could move from year-to-year? If so, why?
     To respond to different needs. Year-to-year or any other temporal scheme, but it would make sense. Different areas, different needs, and that means that DCC Beta Projects can cope with challenges and outcomes. But I guess you need a first success to raise awareness, support and legitimacy to extend to other parts of the city and work with new conditions and different projects.

    I hope these lines are of some help and don´t hesitate to contact me if you need a hand,

    Manu Fernández

  4. Pingback: Beta 2.0 | Dublin City Council Beta Projects

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