I’m a huge fan of case studies so I’ve been looking forward to this session by Mark Kuznicki and Sean Howard. This is one session with a specifically built-in audience largely of government employees, consultants to government and government relationship representatives of private sector companies (including what appeared to be a lobbyist-by-another-name).

This was the first session today in which the presenters asked each participant to introduce themselves and their work — which speaks to either the size of the crowd or the type of presenters they are.

When the Metrolinx (the greater Toronto Transportation Authority) posted an RFP for the redesign of its website, Robert Ouelette put the challenge to the Toronto blogging community: “what should the Metrolinx website look like?“. This led to the creation of Toronto TransitCamp, an event modeled after BarCamp to bring together the most passionate 1% citizens to engage with the Metrolinx and each other with the vision that the Transit Camp would not be a complaints department but a solutions playground.

The key drivers behind TransitCamp are that the current public consultation process is broken, the best ideas do not come from within anyone organization and Black Swan ideas always come from unexpected and unplanned places.

Here’s the best part — Metrolinx was invited and they came. In fact, a representative was in attendance of this session!

Metronauts was formed; a group of individuals engaged in a process that is still in its early stages. That is, they are still in phase one of a three-phase process. As such, final results were not available for this case study.

Metronauts identified three methods of gathering insights:

  • Explicit: specific ideas and solutions offered by informed and engaged citizens
  • Tacit: insights derived from observing the interactions and conversations of informed, engaged and enabled
  • Latent: needs that are not known until they are seen for the first time

The BarCamp model was adapted for the purpose of achieving specific results. This includes an evolution to the law of two feet which permits those who are not getting anything out of a particular session to leave the session, to explicitly telling participants that if they are not getting anything out of a session that they are obliged to leave and find another session which will allow them to contribute.

Part of the process has been gathering tags that help participants to identify words that describe their TTC experience and associate elements that play into the importance of their TTC experience.

Metronauts has managed to create a safe third-space for all participants in the process. The means that the Transit Camp experience has been incredibly positive and productive and is leading to human-centered solutions that will benefit the service providers and consumers — crowdsourcing and collaboration at its best.

One of the greatest challenges is the control of communications from the government; public servants are not permitted to engage in the online dialog on behalf of the government. This can marginalize the commitment and transparency of the government in the eyes of the community. Success depends on the appointment of a community evangelist that can speak freely, with authority and without the continuous and per-engagement clearance of the legal department. Any organization that is committed to progress and remarkability needs to have its own RichardAtDell.

Note: this presentation will be on slideshare tagged mesh08.