2014年8月16日土曜日

Civic User Testing Group in Chicago

The Civic User Testing Group is a set of regular Chicago residents who get paid to test civic apps.

The problem in current civic tech space is that lots of civic apps get attention among a smallish group of other developers and people interested in the world of open data, but do not get wide acceptance by the people they were made for — regular residents of the city of Chicago. That is why they made this testing group.

Website: http://cutgroup.smartchicagoapps.org
The CUT Group Book by Dan O'Neil: http://www.cutgroupbook.org/

This is how it works:
1. Testers fill out a CUTGroup profile and sign up to be a tester of civic apps.
2. CUTGroup sends a $5 VISA gift card.
3. If and when the tester choose to test a civic app, they get paid a $20 VISA gift card.

They have over 800 Chicago residents signed up for this program, from all over the city– all 50 wards, all 77 community areas.

It's a chance for everyone to learn- residents learn about civic apps, developers learn about what users think about their apps and about user testing, and governments learn about what people cares about.

Civic User Testing Group is run by Smart Chicago Collaborative, a civic organization devoted to improving lives in Chicago through technology. They work on increasing access to the Internet, improving skills for using Internet, and developing meaningful products from data that measurably contribute to the quality of life of residents in their region and beyond.

Website: http://www.smartchicagocollaborative.org/

Daniel O'Neil, executive director of Smart Chicago Collaborative talked about the Civic User Testing Group at Code for America Summit in 2013, video, slides and script (blog post) as follows.






Blog post by Dan "Civic User Testing Group as a Model in Changing the Relationship Between Government and Residents (#cfasummit)"

They reach out to all districts, runs the tests in open places (since not everyone in the world has access to Internet), such as libraries, health centers, community rooms, public computer centers, etc.

Their motto is "If it doesn't work for you, it doesn't work".

"We have to include everybody. And everybody means everybody. And the only way we can do that is by consciously and deliberately developing systems for inclusion. Going beyond our own Twitter ping-pong retweet chambers. Beyond our own wants, beyond our own physical spaces, into a real communion with residents." says Dan.

The following video depicts CUTGroup release explanation - in plain language that everybody understands. Getting the testers understand exactly what they are doing, why they are doing this, and about model release, etc is super important.



You can see many of the actual testing in this Playlist, and here are some examples.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJ75D_m2b5GvdTWz23nmy-tewNz6CdmZH

CUTGroup #7: EveryBlock iPhone App - Tester #2



CUTgroup #4: Eatsafe - Tester #2



How are they funded? Civic User Testing Group is supported by a Knight Community Information Challenge grant provided jointly by the Knight Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust as part of the Civic Innovation in Chicago project, with additional funding by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

So the next question is how can we replicate this in other cities? The problem is not unique to Chicago- it is applicable to all civic tech communities globally. But we don't have Chicago Trust Community and MacArthur Foundation everywhere, and so we need to be creative and start thinking about how we can do something similar in YOUR city.

Article on Chicago Tribune:
Harris: Finding 'real people' to test civic apps 
Daniel O'Neil of the Smart Chicago Collaborative aims to engage city residents in the process of building civic-minded technology

Update 2/20/2015:
Civic User Testing Group is starting in Oakland!
http://cutgroup.openoakland.org/


Disclaimer: The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not reflect those of my employer. -Fumi Yamazaki