We see an opportunity to inform the future development of services associated with Developing the North.
We will do this by creating a database (or collection of distributed databases) that collect and collate questions from the community and interested stakeholders. Data is in the eye of the beholder - and for us, it is the questions that provide valuable data. Existing datasets provide very useful information and guidance for decision-makers yet these datasets may not be sufficient for the strategic decisions that need to be made. We think that harnessing the power of critical questions posed by citizens wanting to be a part of the action might reveal useful new insight. In the same way that Citizen Science has emerged in recent years extending scientific investigation Citizen Questions could drive how government services are better informed.
We envisage a range of digital interfaces, such as an app, that invite participation from the community by soliciting questions. These questions are associated with any topic focused on developing or calibrating future services. We are using Developing the North as one instance of how this might work. A metaphor for how input can be collected is is the MiVote app, although it is designed for open democracy polling. Questions could also be harvested from existing databases in the public domain or from selected government departments.
A distinguishing feature of the service we envisage is that responses will not necessarily be answers -- that is, it is primarily a data collection service. It is therefore not positioned to be like other social media Question-Answer services like Quora etc.
We want to:
- empower citizens to ask questions of government (& non-government) services
- enable citizens to ask questions of the right services
- develop a database of collections of questions
Behind the scenes, existing government data from feedback forms can be screened by robots for questions.
Our project is positioned to provide enormous added value right across all services providers, potentially connecting with open datasets that become available.
Our project could deliver a whole new genre of open data that could be used by organisations who deliver services as well as researchers and educators who may want to probe community thinking.
We are using the sub-topic of water bores in the NT to demonstrate how citizen questions might get answered through linking to existing datasets. In this process, we envisage other opportunities or enriching the questions data by user profile (who is asking the questioning & why).