Sometime in 2020, Challenge.gov is going to debut a new look.
Two Baltimore-based development firms — Fearless and Smart Logic — announced recently that they have entered into a contract with the General Services Administration to create a new platform and user experience for the central government citizen science competition portal.
Greg Godbout, Fearless’ director of digital services and a founding member of GSA’s 18F, called the work “a classic digital service upgrade.” Godbout couldn’t comment yet on exactly what the new features will be — he said Fearless and Smart Logic are still in the process of negotiating the specifics with GSA. But he said the redesign will touch both the front end and back end of the platform, meaning it’ll change both the way citizen scientists who participate in challenges interact with it and the way agencies post and share the challenges.
GSA echoed this focus, and hinted at one specific element of the revamp. “This fiscal year, we expect to roll out a site with a refreshed look that makes it easier for the public to participate as well as a more streamlined process for content management,” an agency spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “On the solver side, we plan to eventually add the ability to upload submissions directly to the site.”
Overall, Godbout said, the goal is to increase engagement with the platform. In an ideal world, the redesign would lead to more agencies posting more challenges in which more people are engaging and competing.
“We hope to continue to facilitate and expand the federal government’s use of prize competitions to engage the public in problem-solving,” the GSA spokesperson said.
Challenges are valuable to government because they de-risk the ideation and discovery phase, Godbout went on. They can bring down the level of uncertainty involved in brand new initiatives.
“The prize competitions and challenges on the Challenge.gov platform facilitate a form of public engagement that can generate transformational innovation,” Fearless founder and CEO Delali Dzirasa said. “The challenges have a real path to execution, everyday people can make a difference and engage with their government.”
Recent agency challenges posted to Challenge.gov include a Federal Aviation Administration competition on the future of the smart airport, a NASA challenge on building robots for space exploration and more.