September 20, 2012

The development team along with other Land Observatory key members have been in Laos for the past couple of days, conducting our first, intensive co-development workshop with Lao government partners and civil society partners Land Issues Working Group.

We had a steep learning curve as we presented a demo version of the Observatory to our intended users for the first time. Our main goals here were getting a more specific view of user needs, and how to bring the platform to life:

  1. hearing about how to improve the interface
  2. customizing attributes for the Laotian context
  3. learning what kind of outputs from the Observatory will make positive change on the ground

We did a number of role plays, demos, and used some participatory design tools with the group. Those attending also had the chance to attend a technical day consisting mostly of training on how to input data, edit and moderate.


One thing that most came out was the need for human information brokers and analyzers - both in getting land deals reported to the platform and in ensuring that senior policymakers have access. With this, we need to think about tangible elements that people can take into the world, like forms, short reports, printable maps, spreadsheets, and charts.

Also we learned that getting right the attributes we attach to land deals, for a Lao custom version, will take more time.

One participant asked for a more "comfortable" interface. This is definitely a challenge we take on.

We were encouraged that most participants were very keen, and really appreciated the potential of the Observatory. We learned a great deal from our days in Vientiane, and we thank participants. Soon we'll be sharing a presentation with more detailed findings from the workshop.

But first, we are looking forward to the next co-development workshop in Phnom Penh this week. 

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