PaperKite & WCC: Improving public feedback to local government.

We’re passionate about the use of digital for public good, so we were thrilled when Wellington City Council (WCC) approached us to help them rethink the way they gather Wellingtonians’ opinions.

A speech bubble with the words "we care what you think about your city" inside

When WCC engaged us, they sensed that their system could be improved. They had been seeking public feedback on their proposals through a lengthy process, which captured public opinion in great detail, but at a steep cost – the people most likely to make it through to the end of the feedback form were disproportionately time-rich or passionately opinionated, leading to polarising results that didn’t necessarily reflect the views of the wider community affected by any given proposal.

The WCC team had just run this problem statement through a GovTech accelerator, so they had learned first-hand the importance of doing a rigorous discovery process. Our first step with them was to run a PK Discovery Workshop to understand the problem from their perspective and to understand their “why”. Next, we had a small team of six (three from WCC, three from PK) spend an intense four-day Design Sprint on creating potential solutions, culminating in a day of prototype testing with Wellingtonians. With insights drawn from real people who’d be affected, we worked together to create an MVP product to kick things off and start learning at a greater scale.

The final product is Rima: five questions to be answered in five minutes or less, asked on-location where WCC are interested in exploring improvements, designed to be just as accessible for people using shared library computers as those who have smartphones. Because it’s contextual, quick, and accessible, it opens the door to a wider range of opinions.

While WCC’s initial request was for a native mobile app, we discovered that the solution needed to be much simpler in order to serve just about any device that can connect to the internet. Throughout our iterations, we realised that we could do minimal build and incorporate features from existing products like Typeform and Mailchimp, allowing PK to hand over full control to WCC with minimal ongoing maintenance.

“On both sides, there was genuine commitment to the test-and-learn approach to building the product, acknowledging that it can be a 6-18 month process,” says Rob Holmes, PK’s Discovery Director. “We sent people out into the field to do research exactly where it was going to be used. We witnessed all of the non-digital success factors that were crucial for this to fly. Each time we learnt something new, we could proceed with more certainty. By the time the team launched the mature product in the Botanical Gardens, we all knew it was the real deal. It’s an example of a great cycle: test, learn, iterate”.

Rima is just one way that PK and WCC have collaborated to create a more engaged, active community who participate and shape their experience of living in Wellington. We all have a stake in what’s happening in our city – commuters should have a say in how they get to work, young families should have a say in their local play areas. By helping WCC to reach a greater sample of the community, we’ve put our passion for a fair and functioning democracy into a product we love.

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