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Embedding a culture of experimentation in government

Lab Notes - February edition

The February edition of Lab Notes brings together inspiring news, publications and other resources for public sector and social innovators around the world, including how to "motivate the middle" layer of government buearucracy, cities going green, and a really bad blockchain idea.

This month's key lab picks

1. How do you embed a culture of experimentation in government? This interview with Jason Pearmon of Canada’s ADAPT programme is essential reading for those taking on the daunting task of “motivating the middle” layer of bureaucracy to adopt new behaviours.

2. In an age of ubiquitous sensors, how can local policymakers get their hands on the data they need to manage cities in the public interest? Singapore is creating a “sandbox” for personal data, while others are proposing a new type of data exchange of anonymous location data.

3. Last month New York became the latest major city to divest from fossil fuel investments, joining others like Washington DC and Cape Town. In Europe, Madrid prepares for its greenest year yet.

4. Liberia has been carrying out a bold experiment to improve the availability and quality of education by studying the effectiveness of non-governmental organisations to deliver state schooling.

5. Policymakers are increasingly turning to simulation to improve their understanding of complex issues. This Nesta feature summarises some pioneering examples, including a board game to tackle the waste crisis in Bangalore.

6. To mark the five-year anniversary of the creation of the UK’s What Works Centres, the Alliance for Useful Evidence reflects on their history and their growing role in translating academic research into useful products for policymakers.

7. This article provides a deep insight into Tanzanian government, demonstrating the power of anthropology as a method for learning about how bureaucratic systems respond to reform.

8. Failing fast is not always an option in the public sector. Jennifer Bradly from the Aspen Institute gives six principles for innovating where public safety is at stake. Meanwhile, Nina Timmers from FutureGov describes her experiences of service design with highly vulnerable people.

9. Despite gloomy findings in the latest Economist Intelligence Unit Democracy Index, some cities are putting public engagement front and centre. The Centre for Public Impact outlines valuable insights from Helsinki about making participation meaningful for residents as well as for public employees. Also check out The GovLab's latest publication on how government officials can more actively involve people in public problem solving.

10. Where technology hype leads to irresponsible innovation: are digital identity cards for Rohingya refugees a “really bad blockchain idea”?

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Matt Stokes

Matt Stokes

Matt Stokes

Senior Researcher

Matt is a senior researcher working on the collaborative economy and digital social innovation.

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Theo Bass

Theo Bass

Theo Bass

Researcher, Government Innovation

Theo is a Researcher in the Policy and Research team

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