Beta 2.0

We began a trial a year or so ago. We wanted to create a mechanism whereby Dublin was able to experiment in order to test ideas that it felt might improve the City.

We weren’t quite sure what it was that we were trying to do (there’s still a ton of aspects that we still aren’t at all sure of). That’s fine. It was ‘good enough’ and is still ‘good enough’. Every day though, we aim to make it slightly better.

If you’d asked us at that time, just like the Mark Zuckerberg character to his friend Eduardo in The Social Network, we also might have answered

We don’t even know what it is yet. We don’t know what it is. We don’t know what it can be, we don’t know what it will be, we know that it is cool.

Or Martin Luther King Jr…

You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

Sketch - adjusted

Dublin may have hated the Beta Project idea. Perhaps the name was (and is) not right. Perhaps you might have felt that it was pointless suggesting ideas – “sure they’ll never happen anyway”. You might not have understood what Beta is for or able to look at. You might have hated the idea of The Beta Area, or it might not have worked as a test area………..

The list of assumptions that we made at the start (to allow us move forward with our experiment – the Beta Project itself) – if not endless – was certainly very long!

So for the past year or so, we’ve been asking you for feedback, and also just trying to note when people were confused about the Beta Project concept, or what you wanted from the initiative, or the types of projects that you’d like to see being tested in Dublin. We like to think of us loosely holding the rudder, but also just seeing where the idea might float and take us.

Beta Projects is still run as a 10% Innovation Time project from the City Architects Division of Dublin City Council, and it still certainly requires more than 10% of a work-week (we’d hazard a guess at least at 200% to ‘do it properly’). So naturally, we carry out a lot of it during evenings and weekends and we love every minute of it! There are also 10-20 Dublin City Council staff inputting and contributing to projects and we’re also trying to figure out aspects like how best to manage that. So there’s also a few internal Beta Projects within DCC! (Including Dublin City Beta Projects itself – still very much a trial.)

The ‘What Is…’ parts of the blog haven’t been updated since we first started. So, we’ve updated What Are Beta Projects?, and added a What’s the Beta Process? section. As usual, we’ll be tweaking these all the time as we go along.

We’ve added a FAQ (basically empty now, but which we’ll be adding to). We’re currently testing a ‘proposal form’ (optional) which might help with suggesting ideas. We’ll add that in the coming week or two.

We’ve the bones of a Priority and Kanban table system. We think that it will make the whole process more transparent…and we think you’ll like it. The aim is that those tables can be checked anytime to see the state of play of your suggestion or your personal favourite Beta Project.



(Bear in mind that what you’re seeing at the moment is VERY MUCH still a work in progress – as of writing this at 8pm on 26th March. It’s taken us longer that we’d expected to develop this, and so we’re just going to show it to you in its imperfect state. Expect lots of changes with this, including weightings and indeed scorings – we’re currently trying to test the scoring of random suggestions to see how they’re prioritised and also how easy it is to understand and use! Perhaps it’s too complicated, all we know is it doesn’t feel right yet.)

We also have ideas about how better to link back to the blog, and to (transparently) keep records of what’s going on with the various Beta Projects. That will slowly begin to appear.

The current version of Beta is 1.4 (it started at Beta 1.0) and we’re calling these changes Beta 2.0 (and no doubt expect lots more changes to make it 2.1, 2.2, etc).

As always, feedback please on the concept, the projects, how we communicate…everything!


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!
This entry was posted in General Thoughts & Future Betas, Shane, Strategy. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Beta 2.0

  1. Antoin says:

    I think this is great information. Congratulations on your open process.

    I do think that it is important to think about the prioritization. I think there is an opportunity to improve it.

    First of all, a lot depends on how you see a city. Is it a means to an end, like a machine, or an end in itself, like a piece of art? For me, the city is a machine which fulfills a function for its citizens. 90 percent of the function is commercial and practical, i.e., a place to work and live. The function of the city council is essentially to support those activities.

    (That is not to say that things that are an end in themselves are not important. It is just about looking at the mix and the best use of resources.)

    Only one or two of the projects on the process list is clearly functional, i.e., a means to an end. This is the wrong way around in my opinion. The majority of the projects could be functional and add to the city in a practical way to make it a better place to work, live, buy, sell.

    I don’t want to be negative, but I think many of the projects that are artistic in nature will not end well. Just looking at what I see, there is a lack of direction and a lack of resources. The criterion for inclusion is not quality, but availability. If this impression I have is correct (and I could be wrong, but I was amazed to hear that a hope for one art project was to save the city money) I think the general approach is just not the right way to go about it. If there are people interested in providing the resources to make these into real art projects, fair enough, I have no problem with them. However, I question whether these projects can scale up to offer something to the city as a whole. Whilst a few people in the architectural department may be able to curate some temporary street art here and there, they won’t be able to cope with any sort of city-wide initiative (as has been pointed out, according to minutes of some meetings).

    I think the projects that will work best will be those that actually make the city more usable. In practice these are likely to be projects that make the city ‘legible’ to its citizens. They can help people find their way and help them access resources which may be hidden. If we can hit upon some things that work in a small local area, we can see how it can scale up.

  2. DCCbeta says:

    Brilliant feedback Antoin!

    It’s late, so just a quick reply for now. Re “I was amazed to hear that a hope for one art project was to save the city money” – that’s our fault for not properly explaining the projects (something that will be addressed under a standard method that we’re going to begin to use) – but yes, indeed, that was the case. (Caveat – depends slightly on how it’s viewed.) We’re hoping to go back over the projects that have taken place up to now and explain them better.

  3. Antoin says:

    Thanks for the reply, let me know if I can do anything to help.

  4. Pingback: Project Champions | Dublin City Beta Projects

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