People regularly ask as to why Beta Projects are removed, and we’d like to explain the thinking behind it, and welcome a discussion.
Please use the hashtag #DCCbeta on social media to help us and everyone else follow the conversation.
Why are Beta Projects removed at the end of the trial?
1. Reducing Risk
Dublin City Council Beta Projects are testing assumptions…and that definition it means the trial has uncertainty around it. It makes sense to only limit trials to the minimum amount of time required to learn.
2. Your View May Not Reflect Everyone’s
Perhaps you love a project. Perhaps others hate it. As an example, see some very differing views below (on different projects). It makes sense to remove it until a clear assessment and decision has been made.
To avoid ‘implementation by stealth’, and a perception of sneakiness. Ensuring we remove trials, helps people get used to get the idea of short, sharp, trials…and so reduce Dublin’s ‘immune system’ kicking in overly strongly in advance of a trial (which, if sufficiently big, could prevent a trial getting to the onstreet prototype stage at all).
Trials have a huge trust factor associated with them which could be all too easily squandered. Saying what we said we’d do, therefore increases the chances of future Beta Projects being carried out.
4. Zombie Trials
Running a trial for longer than the relevant length can blur the results. (Particularly in people’s perception of the trial.) It’s one thing to decide to continue the trial length for some reason (such as watching to see how long paint will last), it’s another to just let it continue on zombielike.
5. Maintenance Requirement
Because trials don’t yet have an adopted city policy around them, they won’t tend to have any maintenance strategy in place. That both could affect the results (ie reason 4 above), but also potentially affects Dublin City and citizens. It also would mean that we as a City Council might be exposed to health and safety risks, or needing to scramble for one-off, perhaps specialist, solutions if something was to break down.
We bring all trials under the ‘wing’ of Dublin City Council (irrespective of whether the proposer is citizen or DCC staff member) – ie they all end up being classed a ‘Dublin City Council project’. The reason is that as temporary Local Authority projects, they can almost always be considered under different legislation and byelaws. This in turn, this allows them to get on the ground much faster and speeds up the process of Dublin City learning, whilst still doing everything ‘by the book’. This approach only tends to work once they’re temporary though – and again trust is important.
7. Official Approval
To date, Beta Projects have almost always been exploring ideas which don’t yet have ‘official sign off’. This places a certain amount of risk and responsibility back on the City Council staff members who are proposing/leading on/associated with the project. In a risk-adverse atmosphere, that could be caustic for a staff member in the wrong circumstances (especially when remembering that they are very often involved with a Beta Project out of a selfless interest for Dublin City, very often in addition to their ‘main job’).
8. Long-term View
Much of the frustration at the removal of trials is likely due to a latent pent-up demand in Dublin City for the solutions being trialled. When trials are removed, it can feel like one-step-back to people. It can also result in the removal of trials appearing almost callous (but all trials to date have been either kept in place for as long as was agreed, and in many cases actually longer). However having a firm vision and strong belief that good trials will be scaled across the city, requires us to think bigger than the small gains of individual, small trials. Thinking long-term for the city requires us to consider the 7 items above.
Any thoughts or suggestions or questions?
We’d really love to hear your thoughts on this.