videoDecember 10 2015

Building for the Government in a Time of Precarity

Sha Hwang

Databite No. 62

Sha Hwang (@shashashasha) on building for the government in a time of precarity.

Hwang discusses the ongoing work inside Nava as a way to open a conversation around the design of the government’s digital services for the public. He uses the architectural theorist Keller Easterling’s term “disposition” – the propensity of forms to produce actions – to understand what we encounter when we build with and for the government. These dispositions, both of the tech industry and the government, create a set of material constraints that shape issues around healthcare, taxation, and identity. This talk discusses both the possibilities and implications of designing for the government, and the necessity of dialogue between research and practice.

Nava is a public benefit corporation working to improve digital services at public-facing government agencies. It was formed out of the efforts to fix in late 2013, where Nava worked with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to streamline and redesign systems. Together they cut the time people take to submit an application in half and built an identity management backend system that has saved tens of millions of dollars in operating costs.

Sha Hwang is a designer and cofounder of Nava, a public benefit corporation formed during efforts to help fix Nava continues its work to modernize and reimagine the services the government provides, now working with, the Department of Veteran Affairs, and Medicare on large efforts to improve their digital services. With a focus on exceptional human-centered design and scalable infrastructure, Nava has successfully helped agencies enroll millions in healthcare, save years of manual labor, and tens of millions of dollars in operating costs.

A failed architect and accidental entrepreneur, Sha has worked with clients such as the New York Times, the Harvard Library Lab, MTV, CNN, Flickr, and Adobe. Prior to Nava, Sha worked at Stamen Design in San Francisco, and later cofounded the visualization and mapping startup Movity, the generative jewelry company Meshu, and the physical gif printing company Gifpop.

About Databites
Data & Society’s “Databites” speaker series presents timely conversations about the purpose and power of technology, bridging our interdisciplinary research with broader public conversations about the societal implications of data and automation.