Chelsea Mauldin on Transformation Now

Chelsea Mauldin from the Public Policy Lab in Brooklyn spoke about capacity building for emerging and latent problems in society.

The Public Policy Lab is a nonprofit founded in 2011 that works in partnership with federal and local governmental organizations to improve public services with a focus on poor and vulnerable stakeholders.

She shared several examples of past initiatives. First, a project on affordable housing with NYC agency, another for the Department of Education focused on students with disabilities. Next, a project on jail and substance abuse in Louisville, KY to understand the detoxing population and identify points of intervention. Finally, a project with the VA on veteran access to mental health care to address the rate of suicide.

One of the problems she observed is that civic tech tends to presume “digital solutions” as the answer to any problem. Luckily, it’s possible to co-opt methods from the digital space. AB/testing, Lean, etc. Co-opt the interest in digital innovation to introduce designers and other decision making methods.

Chelsea also believes in the importance of impact assessment. Design is sometimes viewed as a luxury good. But in 2015 we need to demonstrate value. Deepen what assessment means. Be more rigorous. RCT-based testing. Thicker data about qualitative experience. In combination with quantitative data. Light weight short cycle assessment tools.

Human subject design, professionalize it. We’re mining the content of people’s lives for design initiatives. Are we designing ethically? Need to adopt more serious consent procedures.




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