We’ve got a lot to finish in 2015 – here is our plan

Catch a ferry to Cockatoo Island for a planning session? Why not.

Catch a ferry to Cockatoo Island for a planning session? Why not.

Every three months the core team at the OpenAustralia Foundation gets together for a day to plan our next quarter ahead. It’s a good time to review what we got done, how we’re feeling about our work, what we want to get done next and to make any course corrections. It’s all in the context of a broader plan we mapped out at the start of the year.

Last Tuesday, the 6th of October, was our last planning session for 2015. We like to escape our normal working environments for these sessions to make sure our thinking is a bit fresher than usual. Thanks to the beautiful weather in Sydney lately we decided to take the ferry to Cockatoo Island.

After our last planning session in June we said it was going to be a really busy 3 months. It sure was.

Because of some much needed holidays, for most of the time we were back to just 2 full time people. This turned out to be good preparation for Matthew joining the Digital Transformation Office.

By and large we did what we set out to do last quarter but with some interesting additions, including an exciting international collaboration. A few months ago we started discussing a project to bring They Vote For You to the Ukraine with some partners, Open North and OPORA. That project was confirmed last quarter and we’ve already started work on it and we’re making great progress.

To make way for this Henare didn’t start work on PlanningAlerts – Write To Your Councillor as we’d planned and instead Luke plunged into the most vital bit of the project – making it work beautifully and simply within the existing PlanningAlerts application. We’re continuing work on this major project over the next quarter.

A problem that both Luke and Henare encountered over the last couple of months was the big overhead of context switching between so many little projects and jobs. We were really keen to avoid this in our next plan however it’s clear that we have a lot of small things to get done before the end of the year. A positive part of the plan ahead is that we’ve managed to allow Luke to mainly focus on the important work of our next major project.

Here’s what’s on the agenda

The brain dump of what we’ve been up to and, roughly, what the next 3 months will be like

October

Another great scraping workshop

In August we ran a scraping workshop. It was lots of fun and we had excellent feedback so we’re doing it all again on October the 25th. At the time of writing there are still places available if you want to register to join us.

After the last workshop Luke developed a detailed scraping tutorial. We’re in the process of publishing a series of blog posts of this tutorial in time for the next scraping course. You can already take a look at the first post of the series.

More work on They Vote For You for Ukraine. And a bit of a break

We’re planning to keep progressing TVFY for Ukraine but we’ll also take a short break to do some other work while the OPORA team start work on developing the translations. This will allow us to pick the work back up in November and make a lot more progress quickly when we do.

PlanningAlerts – Write To Your Councillor

Throughout October Luke will almost exclusively work on this project with the ambitious goal of launching a focussed minimum viable project early in November. This will likely involve rolling this feature out to a small number of councils to see what works and what needs improvement.

Charging commercial users of PlanningAlerts

Luke and Henare worked on this feature over August but so far we haven’t had a lot of take up. We still have a number of important questions unanswered and Henare is hoping to spend some time here and there trying to answer those questions and make this work.

It’s still one of the most promising opportunities we have to financially support the work the Foundation does but we’re not going to spend forever chasing something that doesn’t work. This quarter will be the decider.

Server upgrade

Last quarter we spent the time to verify a viable strategy for a vital server upgrade. We’ll start planning this in October and schedule it in for a weekend in the near future.

November

Write To Your Councillor & Ukraine

At the start of November Luke and Henare will work together on hopefully rolling out the first stages of the PlanningAlerts feature to write to your councillor. They’ll then switch to working together on TVFY for Ukraine, which Henare will do for the rest of the month.

Saying Hi to Melbourne

Since the start of this year we’ve been wanting to connect with the Melbourne civic tech community. It’s just been a matter of finding the right time.

Recently the good people at the Melbourne chapter of Open Knowledge Foundation Australia contacted us to see if we’d like to come and chat with them about what we do – we said of course, of course! Henare will head down around the 25th of November and is also hoping to say hi to some of the other tech and transparency communities in Melbourne.

December

Party Time

To celebrate all our achievements in 2015, and all you great people who’ve helped us on the way, we’re going to have a little party on the 6th of December. It’ll be pretty low key and casual (what else?) and will probably involve us heading to a park somewhere and enjoying some sunshine, a drink, and something to eat. We’d love for you to join us.

Write To Your Councillor

We’ll begin to look at the infrastructure of this project in December so we can start rolling it out more widely. Hopefully we’ll also have learnt a little about how people are using it so that we can also improve the design before a more general rollout in the new year.

Full steam ahead!

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