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From User Education to Digital Citizenship – re-imagining technology within the City of Sydney libraries.

The City of Sydney is committed to building sustainable, smart communities that embrace emerging technologies. Digital literacy programs provide a pathway to becoming a digital citizen. Recently, we have broadened our approach to technology programs in our libraries so that they are no longer focussed purely on building base computer skills. We work with people to become “digital citizens” who engage meaningfully in the community through accessing, using and learning about different technology and digital resources. We have created an experiential learning program that enables digital fluency through learning how to use digital tools such as apps, developing digital media skills to produce audio and video content for digital storytelling and digital making skills such as coding, robotics, 3D printing and electronics. Developing new skills, knowledge and ideas enriches the lives of the participants. They provide equality of opportunity, important employment skills and help people to remain connected in their communities.

What’s On – building a new online information resource for the community.

The City of Sydney’s What’s On website is a longstanding, trusted and broadly used resource for finding out about events and activities in Sydney. The vast majority of the event listings are submitted by the community and event organisers. In 2013, the City decided it was time to redevelop the site to bring it up to current best standard and improve the experience of using the website both for submitters of event details and for customers looking for information.

A very thorough process of analysis and discovery gave us a deep understanding of who uses the site, what they want from it and how they want to use it. By following a user experience design process, we were able to design and develop a new product around the customer. Once we launched the site in 2015, we were able to understand what works and what needs improvement through web analytics and ongoing user testing. This constant test, learn and iterate process means that we are always improving the experience for users. The site has won many international website awards and receives over two million visits annually.

General Assembly – Knowledge Exchange Sponsorship.

In July 2016, a Knowledge Exchange Sponsorship of $20,000 was provided to General Assembly to produce the General Assembly Event Series - four capacity building events in Sydney aimed at small to medium businesses.

General Assembly is a global education company which aims to encourage local communities to pursue work they love through education and opportunity in technology, entrepreneurial business and design.

Focus is on the most relevant and in-demand skills across data, design, business and technology. General Assembly also works with organisations as partners, such as the City, to develop specific course and training needs to assist them to stay competitive within a digital market place.

The General Assembly Event Series addresses a gap in the market for the provision of free and direct engagement with industry experts on relevant topics covering technology, entrepreneurship and innovation. Support for this initiative complement the existing work of the City to build the capacity of local business including the popular Business 101 seminar series.

Open Data Pilot – the Environmental Sustainability Platform.

In November 2016, the City soft-launched its open data portal, built to standards recommended by the federal government’s Digital Transformation Agency. To pilot the platform, we have populated it with a number of environmental datasets. In Sustainable Sydney 2030, the City has set the ambitious goal of reducing carbon emissions by 70 per cent by 2030.

This will require us to closely monitor our progress against goals in the energy, water and waste areas. The platform draws data from a number of external sources and combines them with the City’s own comprehensive floor space and employment survey data. The application of smart analytics gives us a true and transparent picture of how we are progressing. Importantly, the platform also allows the user to visualise the data in 3D format to give a much richer picture of what the data actually means when spatially overlaid on to the City. This project started with a well-defined problem, set clear parameters and was grounded in the principles of transparency and open source.