Redesigning the future through social architecture
What our Gold Good Design Award means for disaster risk reduction, collaboration, and data-sharing.
TGD was honoured to join Paul Box and CSIRO in the wonderful world of disaster risk reduction - doing what we can to address the increasing impact of natural hazards.
In bringing key people together, our team co-designed new ways to share data, supporting national disaster risk reduction resilience-building activities.
And the very best part? After a lot of hard work, our project to improve sharing of insurance and telecommunications industry data for disaster risk reduction just won a Gold Good Design Award!
Co-designing a brighter future
Our project (Industry-Government Data Sharing for Disaster Risk Reduction), highlights the use of a 'social architecture' approach focussing on how people collaborate to build complex technical systems.
The Growth Drivers, CSIRO, government and industry partners all worked together to build a clearer vision and understanding of this complex socio-technical environment. This project involved running two parallel activities, one in the insurance sector and one within telecommunications. The project was part of a priority work program to support establishment of the Australian Climate Service.
Defining the problem
As we’re aware, we all face a future of climate-related risks.
In Paul's words, "To address climate and natural hazard risk, we need much stronger collaboration and coordination across all sectors (government, private, community, research) so we can gain a collective understanding and work together to reduce risk".
This project sought to enhance cooperation between government and industry, focusing on the insurance and telecommunications sectors.
"The data held by these sectors has great potential for disaster risk reduction," Paul explained.
"We were looking to improve the sharing and use of that data to support a whole range of disaster risk reduction and response activity."
"One critical element was viewing it not as a technical challenge, but as a socio-technical challenge,” he said.
Making a plan
Today we work and live in a world underpinned in by complex ecosystems of data. So, CSIRO has been developing an integrated approach to addressing the challenges of large-scale data sharing and use. They christened it 'social architecture’.
"It's really about designing the human dimensions of these complex systems," Paul explains.
The team, the stakeholders and TGD
CSIRO has many internal capabilities and resources they can draw from, but they were missing a piece of the puzzle.
As Paul says, "Given the scale of engagement and the complexity of the ecosystem we were working in, we recognised the need for human-centred design expertise".
Paul was searching for a partner with an appreciation of social architecture who could integrate with the CSIRO team to co-design this project. He recalled the collaborative work TGD had done with CSIRO in the past, and reached out to our team.
The Growth Drivers collab was led by Laura Kostanski, with Nick Sabulis and Kyle Kessler.
"We worked as an integrated team to co-develop the project and methodology,” Paul says. “TGD lead the engagement discovery process.”
We then joined forces to synthesise the results, pulling together a series of recommendations for all the relevant stakeholders.
In addition to CSIRO and TGD, the project brought together:
Insurance Council Australia (ICA)
Communications Resilience Administration Group (CRAIG)
the National Recovery and Resilience Agency (NRRA))
Australian Climate Service (ACS)
Bureau of Meteorology (BoM)
Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
These agencies all have a significant role in producing and using data for disaster risk reduction – which is what this project is all about.
That winning feeling
So, we won a Good Design Award. What does that mean for the world??
"Aside from having to rent a tuxedo to attend the awards dinner?" Paul jokes. "I'm really proud of this piece of work. Personally, for the CSIRO team, and the combined Growth Drivers team.
“This award is a recognition of the value and utility of the social architecture approach that we've been working on for years".
While it always feels great to receive acknowledgement from peers, winning this award means much more.
"It reaffirms the continued need for deep and thoughtful consideration of HUMAN dimensions of technical systems,” said Paul.
“Digital and real-world transformations are deeply social issues."
How does the future look?
This project has highlighted how government and industry work in very different ways. Each has different cultures, values and constraints.
"Sometimes this creates tensions, misunderstandings, and – in the worst case – mistrust, between different stakeholders", Paul admits.
That’s where our project comes into play.
"The disaster management community has been pretty busy over the last 12 months." Paul reflects.
"There have been floods, change across government, and efforts have focused on supporting recovery efforts".
However, that's not to say that the project has come to a standstill. The recommendations we have developed are already being progressed.
As someone who has worked in the field for years, Paul knows the challenges an- and the huge potential – ahead.
"The next step is very much about building the foundations and laying out a recommended approach for addressing future challenges,” he says.