California Health & Human Services Knowledge Sharing Platform

Client Need

California Health and Human Services (CHHS) oversees 11 departments and 5 offices that provide a wide range of services to Californians. CHHS has been a recognized leader in data and innovation as it moves forward with the goal of making California the healthiest state in the nation through various efforts. CHHS initiated the Data Commons project to improve communication and collaboration amongst  advocates, practitioners, subject matter experts, and government staff using data to improve health and human service delivery. CHHS sought CivicMakers’ service design expertise to better understand stakeholder needs  and develop the Data Commons platform.

Our Approach

California Health and Human Services (CHHS) worked with CivicMakers to develop a platform for collaboration around health and human service data across a diverse stakeholder ecosystem. We engaged universities, local health agencies, nonprofits, media outlets, and volunteer civic technologists in a collective process to envision and design a strategy and implementation plan.

Service Design was the primary methodology for bringing the 1849 Collaborative to life. This means that stakeholders were involved continuously throughout the entire design process to ensure that the features of the data sharing platform would meet the needs of the real end users. In other words, the project team co-designed the platform with a representative cross-section of stakeholders through a process of design and iteration that integrated stakeholder interviews, co-design workshops, surveys, and stakeholder meetings. Stakeholders test drove the first iteration of the data sharing platform, which is being revised based on their feedback.

After conducting over 40 interviews, we better understood the intrinsic motivations and unique needs of the various stakeholders who represented a variety of backgrounds. We facilitated two co-design workshops allowing stakeholders to help shape the overall vision, principles, and desired features of what came to be known as the 1849 Collaborative. Finally, we created a feature roadmap and technical plan for the development of the platform.


  1. Conducted 40+ interviews with internal and external stakeholder groups to develop personas, or written description of potential users
  2. Facilitated 2 co-design sessions allowing people representing persona groups to weigh-in on the overall vision and desired features and functionality of the Data Commons
  3. Created roadmap for the development of the Data Commons


  • Client:California Health and Human Services Agency
  • Dates: September 2016 – June 2017
  • Services: Service design, user research, community engagement, strategic roadmap
  • Team: Lawrence Grodeska, Judi Brown, Cristelle Blackford
  • Partners: Familian&1 (data integration)


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