CSC Staff Attend DigiFest


On January 20, 2016 a handful of CSC employees in Ottawa ventured out of the office to attend an exciting learning day offered by the Communications Community Office (CCO). The day ahead promised to be a journey into the future with opportunities to network and learn with over 200 government employees from a variety of departments.  

The event was titled The Digital Challenge, and it definitely lived up to its promises. The morning started with Alastair McCapra, CEO of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations in the United Kingdom. Mr. McCapra told us about the current and future use of robots and Artificial Intelligence (AI), and the impact this will have on our lives. He told us that some AI systems have already begun to automate writing processes with one system producing a billion news stories in 2014! He also shared that AI systems are still learning and developing their abilities, and that we will continue to see AI learn to do more tasks.

The rest of the morning was action packed with a variety of interactive workshops. The workshops covered topics such as how social media meets traditional communications, web metrics, partnering to better reach audiences, and marketing and outreach in relation to Canada’s upcoming 150th celebration. They were well attended and very informative.

After lunch, everyone was psyched up for the highlight of the day, DigiFest. This activity promised to give us the chance to flex our digital muscles and put our skills to the test.  This initiative was lead by CSC’s very own Assistant Commissioner, Communications and Engagement, Scott Harris, as well as Tracie Noftle from the Department of Justice Canada and Max Guénette from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Our fearless leaders placed us into groups of six to eight people and asked us to create a digital campaign, live, and on-site, in two hours. This was a bring your own device (BYOD) challenge, and touched on all major aspects of digital strategies in the modern world. 

The campaign required us to produce a multitude of digital products, while engaging an audience and trying to get votes during the event. We were being evaluated by a panel of judges that were keeping an eye on all of our work, and a large audience keeping tabs via the internet. Our live DigiFest campaign involved creating a social media account, brand, name, strategy, and one major communications product that we could promote through social media. We were allowed to be creative and use attention-getting photos and tweets that we wouldn’t normally use in government. This allowed us to learn how to do things quickly and challenged us to think outside the box. We decided to produce a “Listical,” which is a visual way of communicating a list online.

After the fun, yet testing afternoon of pushing our limits and experimenting with our digital knowledge, the votes were in. We won!  The team, known as Table33, took home the DigiFest trophy. 

The event was a great experience and will help us, as communicators, deliver better messaging to employees and the public. If I can say one thing, it is that it is key to explore and take advantage of any and all learning opportunities that come your way through your work. You just never know the great connections you will make, the fun you will have, and all that you can learn in just one day. 


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