What is Global GovJam?

The fifth annual Global GovJam initiative took place over 16-18 May, and brought together people who are interested in public services to work collaboratively over two days using a service design process to hack, invent and rethink services.

The Gov in GovJam is loosely defined: from healthcare to civic projects.

The Jam in GovJam refers to the experience of working differently. Jammers start with a good question, do research, turn their insights into an interesting, imperfect idea which they then build and test. There is an emphasis on building on each other’s ideas, learning and sharing – just like a music jam. 

The Global refers to the 30+ GovJams taking place across the world at the same time with live video and social media creating a remarkable world village of public service innovation. Barcelona, Houston, Athens, Mumbai and Melbourne were amongst those cities joining in.

Dundee GovJam

This is the first year that Dundee has taken part in GovJam. The event was held in the atrium of Dundee & Angus College’s Gardyne campus. Around 80 council officers, NHS staff, teachers, designers, business people, voluntary sector workers, students and service users took part, working in 10 teams on a variety of projects that explored areas from transport and tourism to tranquil spaces. Providing input and support were specialists working in design, theatre, business and citizen journalism, acting as mentors or guest speakers.

The event was organised by Dundee & Angus College in partnership with Open Change. Additional support was sponsorship was provided by Dundee City Council, Healthcare Designed in Dundee, The Bonvivieur Group and V&A Dundee.

A comprehensive website was prepared for the event providing access to ticketing, together with details on the people and organisations involved, the process and benefits of the event, and useful resources on many of the methods introduced during Dundee GovJam.

The event also featured the use of Mozilla Open Badges – digital certification of the skills and knowledge gained by participating in Dundee GovJam. These are issued by Dundee & Angus College, and can be displayed online through LinkedIn and online portfolios to share with employers. The College provided details for participants on how to gain the badges.


The visual identity of the event and the design of key assets was particularly important, which was taken on by designer Claire Hartley. Claire also worked on the Jammer’s Handbook and the Dundee GovJam Pop Up exhibition, held one week after the event.

Support and participation

With over eighty people participating, Dundee GovJam was the largest attended GovJam out of all 32 held worldwide. The following organisations were represented:

  • Dundee City Council
  • Learning Strategies Ltd
  • V&A Dundee
  • Dundee and Angus College
  • Dundee Social Enterprise Network
  • Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland
  • NHS Tayside
  • Abertay University
  • National Entitlement Card
  • Dundee City Council Children and Families Service
  • New College Lanarkshire
  • Dundee West Church
  • Shelter Scotland
  • University of Dundee
  • Advocating Together (Dundee) SCIO
  • Volunteer Dundee
  • Grove Academy
  • Rank Foundation
  • Perth & Kinross Council
  • Wevolution
  • Genna Design
  • New College Lanarkshire
  • Angus Council

This high level of participation was in large part a consequence of the institutional support for the event, evidenced in advance by the following testimonials:

“I encourage all those working in the city’s public services take part in Dundee GovJam. Over the past year at the council we have been building our service design skills through numerous workshops in the same style as the Dundee GovJam. It’s a great way of bringing fresh thinking into service redesign, alongside developing new skills, knowledge and working collaboratively with others” – David Martin, Chief Executive, Dundee City Council

“It’s time we really put some thought into designing services around about the interests of the people who use them. I’m really pleased that D and A College is taking part in Dundee GovJam, it’s a really fresh and exciting way to go about service redesign. We want all our services to be slick, quick and easy for our communities to access” – Grant Ritchie, Principal, Dundee & Angus College

“Dundee GovJam represents to me the amazing spirit of discovery that flows through Dundee. At Scottish Government we are committed to a vision of public services that are always designed with, and not simply for, their users. If GovJam is about anything it’s about helping us all understand that in Scotland service design is everyone’s business!” – Catriona Macaulay, Head of User Research & Service Design, The Scottish Government

“Dundee GovJam is part of an international service design movement, bringing people together from across the world, bridging professional divides and encouraging learning from each other. Initiatives like this support V&A Dundee’s mission by increasing awareness of the power of design to solve problems and improve lives. It’s great to see Dundee as a UNESCO City of Design hosting this global event and adopting design as a means of developing better and more intuitive public services” – Philip Long, Director V&A Dundee

Some of the key organisations supporting Dundee GovJam actively encouraged staff to attend by providing paid time off work.

The experience

The experience of Dundee GovJam 2017 is best conveyed through the variety of media produced for and by participants over the course of the two day event. Our Jammer’s Handbook provided participants with their first introduction to what the event involved and the support they would be provided with.

Genna Small, a Dundee & Angus College student, worked with Kathryn Rattray in developing a photo documentary of the event. Their photographs – along with others – can be viewed on the Flickr photo stream below. There is also a photo archive on Facebook and links to other photos posted on Instagram.

Dundee GovJam

Two short films were produced. The first was made by Dundee & Angus College.

The second film combines film of the event with interviews conducted with participants, capturing a sense of the learning and development gained. This was made by Jon Gill of Playful Communications.

This film – 1 minute of 3 days jamming – was made by participant Lucy Robertson.

The next video edits together some of the initial video from Global GovJam that presents the theme of GovJam, together with video generated by participants on their phones, and some of the final show and tell sessions.

We secured a range of specialists who worked with us to provide short inspirational talks on the following subjects.

  • Katie Bain – how Open Badges work
  • Jen Ballie – V&A Dundee
  • Jennifer Jones – how to be a citizen journalist
  • Cat Macaulay – The Scottish Approach to Service Design
  • Ali McGill – using the Mission Model Canvas
  • Lisa Murphy – codesign with young people at Young Scot
  • Gill Paterson – Realising Realistic Medicine
  • Mike Press – field research
  • Sandy Thomson – empathy
  • Andy Young – prototyping
  • Hazel White – journey mappingAll of these were live streamed on YouTube and are available to watch on the Dundee GovJam YouTube Channel. Throughout GovJam participants were encouraged to use social media to both document their experience and to connect the Dundee GovJam with others elsewhere. This Storify collated by Steven Kyle provides a clear overview of the story of Dundee GovJam as told on twitter. During the jam Dundee was twinned with Istanbul, and there is media coverage there which refers to Dundee.

Outputs and outcomes

A total of ten projects were undertaken by participants covering a range of issues including transport, improvising air pollution, personalising public services, better use of urban green spaces, etc.

govjam projects

During the two days of GovJam each team uploaded their work in progress including photographs of prototypes, videos and sketch work to this website where you can view all this material. However, with GovJam we are more interested in outcomes rather than outputs – what is the learning, changes in mindsets and potential impact on professional ways of working? We asked participants to post what they liked, learned, and will do tomorrow. Click on the images below to read the detail of their responses.

IMG_7368 IMG_7369 IMG_7371

This suggests a very positive outcome in which creative confidence was gained, new methods and approaches learned. This is also evident from blog posts written, such as this by Emma Duke Williams.

Dundee GovJam Pop Up

One week following GovJam, the Dundee Design Festival was held. Open Change used its new offices in the City Centre to host a pop up exhibition telling the story of Dundee GovJam. Also at this event the new Service Design Academy was launched.  The Pop Up was officially part of the Festival’s off site programme. A set of panels were prepared that set the exhibition in context, explaining what service design is, and the objectives of GovJam. Project work from the jam was then used as illustrate the methods used, which were described. These panels can be read below.

Below is a flickr photo stream of the event.

GovJam Pop Up

Individuals and organisations supporting Dundee GovJam

Financial support and sponsorship provided by

  • Dundee & Angus College
  • Dundee City Council
  • Healthcare Designed in Dundee
  • Bonvivieur Group
  • Open Change Ltd

Designer of event assets and pop up exhibition

  • Claire Hartley


  • Petr Chutný

Mentors and guest speakers

  • Katie Bain
  • Jen Ballie
  • Jon Gill
  • Moira Gill
  • Jennifer Jones
  • Steven Kyle
  • Cat Macaulay
  • Fiona McAra
  • Ali McGill
  • Linsey McIntosh
  • Rod Mountain
  • Lisa Murphy
  • Gill Paterson
  • Mike Press
  • Taylor Stillie
  • Sandy Thomson
  • Hazel White
  • Andy Young