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Philadelphia to dissolve Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation

The City said the reorganisation will help it scale its work in human-centred design, open-source development and agile.


Three years after it opened, Philadelphia’s Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation (ODDT) is to be dissolved.


Team members will move to the Office of Innovation and Technology (OIT) or the Chief Administrative Office (CAO).


In a blog post, the City said the change was about scaling its efforts in areas such as human-centred design, open-source development and agile.


“A city of firsts”


Liana Dragoman, Director of Strategic Design in the CAO, and Mark Wheeler, Chief Information Officer, wrote: “Philadelphia is a city of firsts. Six years ago, when the City of Philadelphia first hired human-centred designers and developers, these roles and skill-sets were new at the City and across the US, especially on the municipal level.


"As we’ve reached a state of fluency, it’s time to scale."


“Methodologies like human-centred design, open-source development and agile were equally unfamiliar in government. Since then, the Philly team broke new ground: publishing important open datasets, writing content guidelines that championed plain and inclusive language, developing software in the open on GitHub, creating the alpha and beta prototypes for that reoriented City information in support of residents’ needs, collaborating with colleagues to build the City’s capacity for modern and accessible approaches to design and product development, and launching the PHL Participatory Design Lab and”


“The City’s current state of design, development and data is built on these firsts. As we’ve reached a state of fluency, it’s time to scale,” they added.

Spinning off


ODDT’s Open Data team has joined OIT’s centralised data team under Chief Geographic Information/Data Officer, Henry Garie. Content strategists, user experience designers and visual designers are moving to OIT at the end of the year. ODDT developers will also join OIT’s software engineering team, led by the Director of Software Engineering, Dan Lopez.


ODDT service designers and design researchers will spin off into the Service Design Studio, led by Dragoman. The Studio will work on City-wide process-improvement efforts.


Philadelphia is hiring UX and content designers.


“Design, development and data now have permanent homes, growing teams and expanding portfolios in OIT and the CAO," said Wheeler and Dragoman. "Designers, developers and data experts are working on high-impact, enterprise-wide service improvement projects, which is an exciting place to be in 2019.”


The teams will collaborate to develop solutions that improve the public’s interactions with government and staff work experiences, the City said.


The City is now hiring UX and content designers.


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