Scalable technology for inclusive decision making
This case was submitted as part of the Call for Innovations, an annual partnership initiative between OPSI and the UAE Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation (MBRCGI)
Insights.US is a tool that helps governments and cities obtain insights directly from their stakeholders, and update participants on their personal impact on the final decisions. This method makes the public be more engaged in the outcome of public governance.
Insights.US addresses a key challenge that every public sector leader faces at some point: one cannot make decisions alone. We will never have conclusive evidence on the best approaches to take, as the problems we all face are complex – otherwise somebody would have solved them already. Furthermore, we need the support of many partners for the delivery of any significant change, from accountants to stakeholders. Governments and cities all over the world invest millions of dollars and thousands of hours in roundtables, one-on-one calls and media work. But we can hardly make everyone a partner: roundtables are limited in size, and media can't really help us listen.
To address this problem, Insights.US aims to give greater voice to the public through online consultations. Learning the challenge from within (at the Israeli Prime Minister's Office and at the OECD Public Governance Committee), it became clear that we need a new tool to enable governments and cities to collect advice, turn it into bottom-line insights, and update each participant on his/her personal impact on the decisions. Unlike expensive consultants, this tool might be "below the threshold", to enable a micro-purchase without a long procurement process. Hence, every manager should be able to create a question, invite stakeholders and manage the project himself/herself. That's what we developed at Inisghts.US: a scalable, self-service platform for inclusive decision making.
Two of the key features that make the platform unique are the analysis of free text responses for up to thousands of answers and the personal feedback loop which informs each stakeholder of their contribution to the decisions.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
There are three pioneering features that do not exist in other technologies or in offline roundtables:
1. Personal updates on impact – we keep the participants in the loop with automatic impact updates, which inform them of their contribution to your decisions. Including the audience in the process helps the public sector avoid mistakes and creates sustainable change.
2. The bottom line - our algorithm does the job of wading through tons of responses on behalf of the public sector innovator. It integrates natural language processing (NLP) technologies with simple, analytical tasks done by users. At the end, the government reviews the final insights.
3. The insights are both offline and online, through email, SMS, social networks, or round tables. This generates insightful advice – online, offline, and mobile.
What is the current status of your innovation?
Insights' platform already helped 300+ organizations to get insights on over 600 public challenges from 525k stakeholders. 82% of the decisions already changed after using Insights.US.
After we've seen all countries face the same challenge, and there are no good solutions, an initial idea started to develop. We started working with the first international clients, such as Austin, Texas and MedStar. We recently launched our self-service version, so that every government agency or every city can launch a consulting website in minutes, and get professional insights from his/her stakeholders in two weeks.
Insights.US has expanded and now has offices in Tel Aviv, Washington DC and Berlin.
Collaborations & Partnerships
We had 71 paying clients along the way (as well as other organizations using our tool without paying). Each and every one of them helped us understand what works, and how we can improve the likelihood of providing value to decision makers.
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
The beneficiaries have been 300+ organizations, working on 600+ projects with 1,500 administrators, and decision-makers, with 525,000 participants in consulting projects.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
We have a very clear outcome, which we measure in every project: whether the insights changed the original decisions the organization was about to take. We measure that based on the objective assessment of our success managers (who are working with the decision makers directly) and the subjective assessment of the decision makers themselves. 82% of the decisions made after using Insights.US changed.
Over the last 6 years, we have been developing and implementing our tool in national decision making processes. We have worked with 4 governments (US, Germany, Austria and Israel) and dozens of cites (Austin, Berlin, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and many others).
Our platform helped 200+ organizations lead 600 consulting projects with 525 000 participants. After we launched our self-service version, it enabled government agencies and cities to create their consulting site and manage the entire flow by themselves. This has proved both a popular and empowering tool for decision makers.
Challenges and Failures
Many decision makers believe they really know everything. Some would reach out to their stakeholders and ask for advice - without willingness to change anything. We try not to work with these types of decision makers.
Conditions for Success
After we developed the product, the key barrier has to do with marketing. Building an operation of marketing to the public sector requires a significant investment. Many officials are happy to keep the status quo and the key to changing that is to help them realize the enormous potential they can gain from using a technology such as ours, as well as the simplicity of use for all involved.
We replicated it 600 times, and we see a natural potential to scale at an even larger level.
Changing government is the toughest challenge of all. Therefore we need to understand how government works in order to disrupt it (for instance, with regard to procurement). Coming with a good product is not enough. Another lesson has to do with people: there are very few people who are willing to put the continuous effort required.