B.C.’s mining industry is an integral part of the economy, with over $9 billion dollars in annual revenue. Following the collapse of a mine tailings dam in 2014, the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources (EMPR) sought to improve the way it used technology for record management, mine oversight and to provide information to the public.
The Ministry’s team of designers, user-researchers, and developers uses an iterative, open-sourced, user-focused approach to develop products continuously, in the following steps:
- Identifying user needs. First, the team conducts user research and develops user stories to better understand the problem they need to solve. Often, this process identifies user needs that could not be defined up front.
- Testing small pieces. Next, the team develops prototypes and works with users to validate that it is solving the right problems and delivering simple and easy-to-use services. The team fosters creativity and innovation by conducting hackathons and inviting members of the local technology community to collaborate.
- Delivering value quickly. Once the team has solved a problem, it delivers its product to users to use immediately with real data. The team uses feedback from users to identify user needs, repeating the process.
Outcomes that matter
- Public-facing information portal. From 2017 to 2018, the Ministry developed and launched a user-friendly website that helps people access inspection reports, permits, and other reports on mining and the environment from multiple agencies.
- Real-time mine data. Building on the success of the public facing portal, the small, initial team doubled in size and set its sights on developing a modern mine oversight system capable of sharing real-time mine data and interacting directly with mines. The new system reduces the time to gather a major mine’s regulatory requirement submissions from over six hours to less than a minute
- Ongoing product development. Using an iterative, user-focused approach, the team is building a mine oversight system that will be responsive to the needs of Ministry staff, the mining industry, Indigenous communities, stakeholders, and the public. By enhancing usability, efficiency, and transparency, this system will transform the province’s regulation of mines.
- B.C Mine Information Website
- Mines Digital Service GitHub repo
- 2016 Vancouver Sun article ‘B.C. ministry change gives public online access to mine inspections and dam safety information’
- 2017 Vancouver Sun article ‘B.C. announces more changes resulting from Mount Polley mine failure’
- 2019 CTV News article ‘British Columbia proposes reforms to strengthen oversight of mining industry’