What BETA projects (at concept stage) are always removed at the end of the trial, and people very often ask why.
Here's the reasons!
1. Reducing Risk
Beta Projects are testing assumptions and so contains uncertainty. It makes sense to only limit trials to the minimum amount of time needed to learn what you wanted to learn.
2. Learning Mindset
Knowing upfront that you're going to be removing a trial helps both City Council staff and citizens mentally shift into a 'learning' mindset...and away from the 'local-specific implementation' mindset with which they will usually approach projects.
Ensuring we remove trials, helps people get used to get the idea of short, sharp, trials. This avoids any ‘implementation by stealth’ or any perception of sneakiness. This in turn reduces Dublin’s ‘immune system’ kicking in overly strongly in advance of a trial (which, if sufficiently big, could prevent a trial getting to the onstreet prototype stage at all).
Trials have a huge trust factor associated with them which could be all too easily squandered. Ensuring that we do what we said we’d do increases the chances of future Beta Projects being carried out, and so isn't just about any one project.
4. Zombie Trials
Running a trial for longer than the relevant length can blur the results. (Particularly in people’s perception of the trial.) It’s one thing to decide to continue the trial length for some reason (such as watching to see how long paint will last), it’s another to just let it continue on zombielike.
5. Maintenance Requirement
Because trials don’t yet have an adopted city policy around them, they won’t tend to have any maintenance strategy in place. That both could affect the results (ie reason 4 above), but also potentially affects Dublin City and citizens. It also would mean that we as a City Council might be exposed to health and safety risks, or needing to scramble for one-off, perhaps specialist, solutions if something was to break down.
We bring all trials under the ‘wing’ of Dublin City Council (irrespective of whether the proposer is citizen or DCC staff member) – ie they all end up being classed a ‘Dublin City Council project’. The reason is that as temporary Local Authority projects, they can almost always be considered under different legislation and byelaws. This in turn, this allows them to get on the ground much faster and speeds up the process of Dublin City learning, whilst still doing everything ‘by the book’. This approach only tends to work once they’re temporary though – and again trust is important.
7. Staff Stress
Beta Projects are exploring new ideas. This places a certain amount of risk and responsibility back on the City Council staff members who are involved with the project, very often out of a personal interest and in addition to their ‘main job’. It makes sense to minimise their personal exposure and stress.
8. Better Feedback
Often people don't tell us what they think of a project - until we remove it. This particularly tends to be the case if they actually liked it (people are often quicker to let you know when they don't like something). Therefore, removing it gives us more rounded feedback.
9. Your View
What seems "obviously a good solution" to you, may not be to another person. Perhaps you love a project, and perhaps others hate it. It makes sense to remove it in order to ensure that all the pressure surrounding a trial is removed in order that it can be calmly assessed and reported upon.
10. Long-term View
Much of the frustration at the removal of trials is likely due to a latent pent-up demand in Dublin City for the solutions being trialled. When trials are removed, it can feel like one-step-back to people. It can also result in the removal of trials appearing almost callous (but all trials to date have been either kept in place for as long as was agreed, and in many cases actually longer). However having a firm vision and strong belief that good trials will be scaled across the city, requires us to think bigger than the small gains of individual, small trials. Thinking long-term for the city requires us to consider the items above.
11. No Preferential Treatment
It makes it clearer that it's about learning, rather than implementing an (assumed) improvement. This helps when liasing with location-focussed people such as residents' groups, councillors, and area offices - there's not much advantage when it's ultimately removed. These groups tend to be action-orientated and implementation-orientated and highlighting the ultimate removal in advance really helps them to understand that this project is different. It's also beneficial if a trial is installed near a relevant staff member's home or in their neighbourhood (particularly useful when we want to watch something in off-duty hours) as it helps to negate any suspicisions of nepotism.
Any thoughts or suggestions or questions?
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