5 Ways GovLabPHL is Creating Learning Opportunities

Nandi O'Connor, Policy and Digital Content Manager, GovLabPHL
GovLabPHL is an initiative that creates data-driven learning opportunities within government. Though we started small, we have grown into a large team of people from departments and agencies across the the City who support the  use of social science, design-thinking and the trauma-informed approach within government. The best part? We have some great academic partners from local universities who donate their time to help us do this work. Check out 5 ways GovLabPHL has engages City employees and residents. 
We launched a City employee book club. Yes, we convinced 100+ City employees to take time out of their day to read the same book, then come together and talk about it. We kicked off the book club series with “Nudge” by Richard Thaler which gave members an opportunity to read about the human decision-making process, then discuss ways they could apply this knowledge to their work. 
We held two behavioral science conferences. The 2016 conference introduced department leadership to the scientific study of human behavior and how it could be applied within City government. By the 2017 conference, some of those same department leaders were presenting on how they used behavioral science and how the results helped them improve a policy challenge. With momentum like that, we’re excited to see what our 2018 conference has in store. 
We held a free 10-month speaker series on human-centered design. The Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation partnered with GovLabPHL to put together panels and workshops on human-centered design. Together, we gave residents the opportunity to hear from experts and learn how human-centered design is being used across the country in the public and private sectors. People loved this free learning opportunity (and the free food couldn’t have hurt either).

We’re co-leading the Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge. Through this challenge, the City is working to create a trauma-informed alternative to police districts for young people. We’re collaborating with departments across the City to design and test a “hub” where children aged 10 to 17 would be taken when arrest. We’re consulting with service designers and trauma-informed care practitioners  to test and improve this idea throughout the summer. 

Local universities fund year-round fellows to support our work. Sometimes students have a background in social science, and sometimes we’re their introduction to it. One thing is for certain - we put all of our fellows to work! Our undergraduates develop research protocols, social media content, create code, and deidentify and randomize project data. It’s never a dull day in the GovLabPHL office.