Last week, BetaCityYEG, Canada's longest-running civic tech meetup, welcomed special guests Code for Canada to share updates on the inaugural year of their digital government fellowship and what to expect from the program.
Code for Canada (C4C) is a national nonprofit that helps governments and communities build great digital services. They offer a fellowship program that connects government innovators with digital professionals to design solutions to civic problems, and they also support the formation and growth of civic tech community groups in cities across the country, just like BetaCityYEG.
Edmontonian, Product Manager and Biomedical Engineer, Daniel Tse joined Code for Canada to support the work of the Canadian Digital Service (CDS). Through CDS, he and his team are working with Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) to develop a web-based directory of the benefits available to veterans. Daniel shared a bit of his unique path to becoming a Biomedical Engineer with C4C earlier this year:
Before coming to C4C, Daniel's experience in the biomedical field and building accessibility products showed him the ability to affect and empower people through technology. The direct interaction with people impacted through his work reinforced his commitment to understanding the user’s journey and its role in developing impactful products.
Veterans Affairs Canada, a department of the federal civil service, provides benefits, including compensation for injuries incurred in the line of duty and career transition services, to ex-military, ex-RCMP, still-serving members, and their families. The need for a more user-centred solution to enable research, access, and optimization of benefits was clear - especially considering there is upwards of 40 benefits covering a variety of needs.
The C4C team started work in late 2017 and brought together 15 stakeholders from across Veterans Affairs Canada to dig into the challenges. Their user research revealed five areas where access to benefits information -- for both veterans and VAC staff -- could be improved: discoverability, connectivity, purpose, process, and research.
The next stage of the team's work is to move towards a solution and how 'Benefits at a Glance' might address the needs of patrons and staff in these five categories.
One of the unique elements of the fellows program is the opportunity to parachute highly experienced professionals, with new points-of-view, styles of work, and skillsets into specific challenges with one goal: to best serve citizens and make an enormous impact on our society. Daniel summarizes the experience beautifully -
BetaCityYEG fosters a community of change agents for our city by combining civic engagement with technology. Over the past four years, the meetup has made excellent use of the Open Data Catalogue at the City of Edmonton and continues to be a leader across North America in fostering the intersection of technology and collaborative civic projects. It's great to highlight the contributions of our local tech community, but also the individual impact of Edmontonians as they work around the world.
Congratulations to Code for Canada and Daniel on an amazing inaugural year! And, thank you BetaCityYEG for bringing Code for Canada to Edmonton.
The Code for Canada fellowship embeds technology professionals into government, where they work alongside public servants to build great digital services for residents. To learn more about becoming a fellow, or hosting a team of fellows in your department, visit codefor.ca/fellowship.