New Uses for Open Data
faberNovel was chosen to design and produce mobile and internet applications to support Etalab, the organization in charge of facilitating the use of and access to public information for businesses and individuals. Etalab manages Data.gouv.fr, the French government’s Open Data portal, and ensures the consistency of public data formats produced by the different administrations.
For our assignment, we worked alongside Applidium and af83 to produce applications designed to implement Etalab's vision for innovative public data visualization, among others. This initial project consisted of producing an application prototype to accompany the portal's launch.
What faberNovel has achieved
This project was rolled out in two phases. It started with an initial co-design phase that then led into a more traditional process of implementing the selected concepts.
To start with, the Etalab team presented faberNovel with a certain amount of data to use and integrate into an innovative display on iPads. The data set originally selected did not include tangible parameters that could evolve, so faberNovel proposed a display focusing on active interaction with the user. This initial proposal gave rise to a complete review of prototype issues and led to co-design meetings. The meeting discussions gave rise to a different concept, one of minimizing interactions with the user and favoring an independent evolution of the data. The data set was therefore replaced with another allowing for this evolution.
2. Functional and Technical Specifications
A data display application is not designed in the same way as a service application. Here, it involves offering the user the option of comparing data evolution, in a completely independent manner, on a platform that allows users smooth interactions. Using traditional storyboards and functional specifications, faberNovel focused its efforts on ergonomics, suggestions and graphics. This meant that, even before the product was developed, everyone could see how the product would affect the way in which the user handled the data. Four interaction proposals were therefore drawn up on boards presented at the Etalab team meeting for functional approval, before being submitted to Applidium for technical approval.
3. Technical Developments
Once the designs had been clarified, the ergonomics and graphics approved and the interactions detailed, a storyboard showing the customer's path in a simplistic form was issued to the Applidium team for the start of the technical development phase. These developments were completed and delivered ahead of the Data.gouv.fr portal going online.
The aim of this prototype is to demonstrate what can be achieved in terms of public data use when that data is made available to developers. The iPad application has also shown itself to be a very good communication tool for all audiences. It will be useful in explaining Etalab's approach once the portal is launched.