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Posts in category 'Public services'

25 October 2014

Report outlines future of UK social design research

socialdesignfutures

Social Design Futures: HEI Research and the AHRC
By Armstrong, Leah, Jocelyn Bailey, Guy Julier, Lucy Kimbell
University of Brighton and Victoria and Albert Museum
October 2014, 84 pages

The UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has just published a report exploring social design research in the UK.

The report scrutinises the future of social design research at a time when its relevance is growing rapidly as a result of policy shifts towards more open government structures and increased visibility of strategic design thinking and social innovation, and a wider context of economic austerity and digital revolution.

Current and ongoing interest in social design means the field is at a critical point. This ‘social design moment’ presents opportunities for researchers in design and related areas. However, in order to take full advantage of these opportunities, and to support the development of social design research, some challenges must be addressed.

> Press release
> Full report

19 October 2014

Hospitable Hospice, Redesigning Care for Tomorrow

hospitablehospice

Design for good death
Hospitable Hospice, Redesigning Care for Tomorrow
An IDEA 2014 Award winner research project
Free download: issuu, pdf

Existing healthcare systems can make the end-of-life experience more frustrating and undignified. The Lien Foundation and ACM Foundation (Singapore) in collaboration with fuelfor design consultants have published an experience design handbook, pdf). Its aim is to raise the universal standard of hospices, the service providers of end-of-life care.

Hospices suffer a poor image. They deserve to be better understood by society, to become a welcomed part of lifelong care services. An ageing population affects not only Singapore but is a worldwide phenomenon, so designing better palliative (non-curative) care services is of great relevance globally.

The team is proposing seven universal experience design concepts. They envisage a new service that is community-integrated, personalised in care and that helps all stakeholders navigate the end-of-life journey with greater confidence. The ideas range across diverse levels of opportunity; ideas like a Goodbye Garden can add dignity to the way that the deceased leaves the hospice. While others like the toolset for baking Thank you Cookies encourages patients to express their feelings in memorable ways. Besides many thought-provoking ideas, the handbook offers a set of 24 Experience Design Principles for designers involved in future hospice projects.

The researchers believe that the Hospitable Hospice handbook can create more conversations about death and dying – in the same way we can speak about marriage and birth – free from stigma, fear and taboo.

16 October 2014

Push, pull or nudge

europcom

Push, pull or nudge” is the title of a 2.5 hour workshop (video here) at the 5th European Conference on Public Communication held today in Brussels.

The workshop explored the potential of concepts such as design thinking, choice architecture and nudging in public affairs communication, and featured:

  • Sean Larkins, Deputy Director and Head of Government Communication Policy, Prime Minister’s Office and Cabinet Office Communications, UK
  • Runa Sabroe, Project Manager, Mind-Lab, Denmark
  • Katja Rosenbohm, Head of Communications, European Environment Agency
  • Fran Bambust, Choice Architect, CIBE Communications, Belgium
  • Bert Pol, consultant and researcher on government communication, Tabula Rasa, The Netherlands (moderator)

More information on page 16 of this pdf.

9 October 2014

New ebook details Seoul’s Sharing City project

SharingCitySeoul

With its official, city-wide commitment to the sharing economy, Seoul’s metropolitan government has emerged as a leader in the global sharing movement. Recently, Creative Commons Korea released an ebook detailing many of the Sharing City, Seoul projects, at both the community- and municipal-level, that form this new sharing mega-city.

As the Sharing City, Seoul ebook introduction notes, while Seoul is spearheading a sharing revolution, sharing is not new to its residents. Seoul is a city with a rich cultural heritage of sharing, including labor exchanges called “poomasi” and farmers’ coops called “dure.” Today, with 10 million residents—the majority of them possessing smartphones—and a government committed to creating a sharing culture, Seoul is well-positioned to bring mass sharing to one of the densest cities in the world.

Cat Johnson summarizes on Shareable some of the initiatives highlighted in the ebook:

5 October 2014

Why government websites are terrible and how to fix them

26GOVWEB-tmagArticle

By exposing how confusing food stamp applications and other government online services can be, Citizen Onboard hopes to make them better. Anna North reports in the New York Times Op-Talk blog.

“One simple way to make government websites better, [Alan] Williams [of the nonprofit Code for America that started Citizen Onboard] told Op-Talk, is clearer copywriting: “People are used to being spoken to in plain language, and if we can speak that language, then we can make pretty complex tasks like applying for food stamps a lot simpler.”

The Op-Ed piece cites a 2013 New York Times Op-Ed, in which Clay Johnson and Harper Reed argue that shoddy websites are a result of “the way the government buys things.”

“The government has to follow a code called the Federal Acquisition Regulation, which is more than 1,800 pages of legalese that all but ensure that the companies that win government contracts, like the ones put out to build HealthCare.gov, are those that can navigate the regulations best, but not necessarily do the best job.”

Mr. Williams agrees, writes North:

“The way the government has been legally able to buy technology in this country has forced them to scope out the entire technical and feature requirements of a service at the outset and then buy those services for a very large sum of money. A better approach is one that eschews declaring that you know everything that’s needed out front, and instead focuses on user-centered design and user research and iterative development, and building something that works over time by observing how people interact with the software.[My emphasis]

29 September 2014

An interview with Dirk Knemeyer on UX and reinventing democracy

dirk_headshot_reduced

Dirk Knemeyer is a UX thought leader, an entrepreneur, a game designer, and a former UXmatters columnist. Recently, Pabini Gabriel-Petit had the opportunity to interview Dirk about his experiences as a UX professional and entrepreneur, as well as his reflections on the state of democracy in the United States and how we can use design thinking to imagine a more participatory form of democratic government.

Recently, Dirk published “Redesign Democracy: A Better Solution for the Digital Era,” on the Involution Studios Web site. This thought piece, which considers how we might reconceptualize the democratic process in the United States, provided the focus for the remainder of our discussion. – See more at: http://www.uxmatters.com/mt/archives/2014/09/user-experience-entrepreneurship-and-redesigning-democracy-an-interview-with-dirk-knemeyer.php#sthash.UZVyhVRo.dpuf

7 September 2014

Nudging and behavioral regulation gaining interest across Europe

ten

Behavioral regulation is afoot in Europe and is drawing the interest of a growing number of OECD countries. Professor Alberto Alemanno has just posted a brief overview of what happened over the last few months:

In late June, TEN – The European Nudge Network was launched with the aim to gather and exchange good practices among researchers, practitioners, stakeholders and policy-makers interested in Nudge throughout the European Union and beyond.

The European Union is in the process to set up its ‘foresight team’, a unit to be located within the EU Commission Joint Research Center under the lead of the best policy thinkers inside the administration. The unit’s reason d’être is to centralize the efforts currently undertaken by some Directorates General of the EU Commission, such as DG Consumer Protection and Health (SANCO), to integrate behavioral insights into EU policymaking.

Also the OECD is set to include ‘behavioral economics’ in its 2015 Regulatory Policy Outlook.

Alemanno goes on to cite examples from individual countries such as Germany, France, Italy and Canada.

28 August 2014

How EU leaders can listen to the views of their citizens expressed on Twitter

vox200

Vox Digitas
By Jamie Bartlett, Carl Miller, David Weir, Jeremy Reffin, Simon Wibberley
Report, 24 August 2014
ISBN 978-1-909037-63-2
Free download

Over the last decade European citizens have gained a digital voice. Close to 350 million people in Europe currently use social networking sites, with more of us signing into a social media platform at least once a day than voted in the last European elections. EU citizens have transferred many aspects of their lives onto these social media platforms, including politics and activism. Taken together, social media represent a new digital commons where people join their social and political lives to those around them.

This paper examines the potential of listening to these digital voices on Twitter, and the consequences for how EU leaders apprehend, respond to and thereby represent their citizens. It looks at how European citizens use Twitter to discuss issues related to the EU and how their digital attitudes and views evolve in response to political and economic crises. It also addresses the many formidable challenges that this new method faces: how far it can be trusted, when it can be used, the value such use could bring and how its use can be publicly acceptable and ethical.

We have never before had access to the millions of voices that together form society’s constant political debate, nor the possibility of understanding them. This report demonstrates how capturing and understanding these citizen voices potentially offers a new way of listening to people, a transformative opportunity to understand what they think, and a crucial opportunity to close the democratic deficit.

The report is the result of a project conducted by The Centre for the Analysis of Social Media, a collaboration between Demos and the Text Analytics Group at the University of Sussex, that produces new political, social and policy insight and understanding through social media research.

The methodological reflections in the executive summary are a worthwhile read for any qualitative researcher, including those working in the corporate realm.

21 August 2014

E-Government for the post-2015 era: the usage perspective

unegov

E-Government for the post-2015 era: the usage perspective is the title of the 7th chapter of the recent report “United Nations E-Government Survey 2014 – E-Government for the Future We Want“.

The chapter outlines the current situation of e-government usage, particularly the efforts made by the 193 United Nations Member States. It examines various e-government service channels (including mobile and social media), service channel mix and management in a multichannel world, exploring effective channel management strategies (with good opportunities) to increase e-service uptake. The chapter also looks at selected issues related to e-government service usage in several critical areas which can generate high returns for sustainable development, along with good practices; and provides concluding observations, with some policy suggestions on increasing e-service uptake.

The report was completed in January 2014 and launched in June 2014.

16 August 2014

Leveraging ethnography to improve food safety

supermarket

Carolyn Rose explains how ethnography can be used to improve food safety:

If done correctly, ethnography leads to a holistic and unbiased understanding of current practices and the motivations that drive them. Looking specifically to learn the existing challenges, workarounds, deviations and drivers within an interaction, task or activity, we are able to identify opportunities for process-based improvements. Such opportunities can ultimately take many forms, including new work flows, tools and/or techniques. For example, identifying specific areas of noncompliance might lead to new safety training protocols, while identifying comparatively labor-intensive or time-consuming tasks might lead to the implementation of alternative technologies/automation aimed to mitigate bottlenecks.

As such, ethnography can be a critical first step in evolving food safety practices. With a sound understanding of current practices and the real needs and challenges therein, we can make informed and targeted process improvements aimed to optimize efficiency, quality, ease of use, consistency and safety.

12 August 2014

White House launches UX-focused Digital Service team

WhiteHouse_Logo

Yesterday, the White House formally launched the U.S. Digital Service.

“The Digital Service will be a small team made up of our country’s brightest digital talent that will work with agencies to remove barriers to exceptional service delivery and help remake the digital experience that people and businesses have with their government.”

The Administration also released the initial version of “a Digital Services Playbook that lays out best practices for building effective digital services like web and mobile applications and will serve as a guide for agencies across government. To increase the success of government digital service projects, this playbook outlines 13 key “plays” drawn from private and public-sector best practices that, if followed together, will help federal agencies deliver services that work well for users and require less time and money to develop and operate.”

It is nice to see that the first item in the Digital Services Playbook — Understand what people need — is identical to the first item in the Design Principles heralded by their British counterpart, gov.uk – start with needs.

So after Gov.uk, we now have the U.S. Digital Service, both with a major emphasis on user experience and user research. Which country will follow next?

27 July 2014

Applying insights from behavioral economics to policy design

 

Applying insights from behavioral economics to policy design
Brigitte C. Madrian
NBER Working paper
July 2014

The premise of this article is that an understanding of psychology and other social science disciplines can inform the effectiveness of the economic tools traditionally deployed in carrying out the functions of government, which include remedying market failures, redistributing income, and collecting tax revenue. An understanding of psychology can also lead to the development of different policy tools that better motivate desired behavior change or that are more cost-effective than traditional policy tools. The article outlines a framework for thinking about the psychology of behavior change in the context of market failures. It then describes the research on the effects of a variety of interventions rooted in an understanding of psychology that have policy-relevant applications. The article concludes by discussing how an understanding of psychology can also inform the use and design of traditional policy tools for behavior change, such as financial incentives.

Brigitte Madrian is the Aetna Professor of Public Policy and Corporate Management at the Harvard Kennedy School.

[HT Emile Hooge]

22 July 2014

Call to bring refugee-led innovation into humanitarian work

STO00451UGA

The humanitarian sector must lift barriers to user-led innovation by refugee communities if it is to meet the challenges of an ever-changing world, says a new report, Humanitarian Innovation: The State of the Art, published by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and presented at the Humanitarian Innovation Conference at the University of Oxford, United Kingdom, on Saturday (19 July).

The trajectory of humanitarian assistance is unsustainable — with the cost trebling and the number of people requiring help doubling over the past ten years — and humanitarian tools and services are often ill-suited to modern emergencies, says the report.

“The risk-averse sector needs to embrace innovation, private sector involvement and bottom-up solutions to keep up with modern challenges”.

The current debate focuses on improving the tools and practices of international humanitarian actors and has overlooked the “talents, skills and aspirations of crisis-affected people themselves”, who remain a “largely untapped source of sustainable and creative solutions”.

An alternative to these short-term, project-based solutions by external actors is user-centred design that embraces indigenous innovation and participatory methods, it says.

This, it adds, involves recognising and understanding innovation within communities and putting them at the heart of the humanitarian innovation process.

The report calls for early consultation on the design of solutions to make sure they fit with cultural practices, and for more investment in “innovation spaces and opportunities that mentor, accelerate, and incubate the initiative of affected populations and local organisations”.

It also says that international organisations should ensure users drive the process of defining priority areas for innovation, testing out products and processes to meet those needs, and providing feedback during implementation and scaling.

The report will be published on the OCHA website.

7 June 2014

Sharing City Seoul: a model for the world

MayorParkEar

The Seoul city government has officially embraced the sharing economy by designating Seoul a Sharing City and is working in partnership with NGOs and private companies to make sharing an integral part of Seoul’s economy.

The city is now creating an official sharing ecosystem and, led by the Seoul Innovation Bureau within the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG), they are seeing promising early results.

Using its IT and civic infrastructure, in addition to strong public-private partnerships, the Sharing City project is working to connect people to sharing services and each other, recover a sense of trust and community, reduce waste and over-consumption, and activate the local economy.

31 May 2014

UK Government told to put people at centre of ‘digital revolution’

designcommissionreport-frontcover

Digital services in the public sector must have user-centred design as a ‘primary focus’ if people are to benefit from IT growth, the report “Designing the Digital Economy” claims.

The report, commissioned by the British Parliament’s Design and Innovation Group, describes designers as “critical agents able to mediate between people, places and technology”.

“They have the ability to ask bigger questions that put people at the centre of the digital economy – not the technology itself.

But designers need to wrestle back the innovation agenda and work with technologists to create new forms of social and economic value in the evergrowing Digital Economy.

Chief User Officer…

The recommendations of Designing the Digital Economy

*Appointing a Head of Design for digital platforms in each government department.

*Government should find ways to embed designers in testbed big data projects.

*Large infrastructure projects such as HS2 should appoint a Chief User Officer to ensure the effective, relevant and transparent use of big data.

*The design sector should be encouraged to partner technologists and regional development mechanisms to develop Digital Design Clusters which work together to develop networks of design-led digital activities.

*Children, further education students and undergraduates should be taught using up-to-date design software or open source platforms.

*Whilst the UK will be the first country in the world to teach children how to code as part of the curriculum (from 2015), there are still measures that can be taken to close the skills gap now.

*Expand and develop the Research Councils UK funding work on linking design to the digital economy.

28 May 2014

Open government requires having the end user in mind

Blaise-Pascal-012

Simply making data available online isn’t enough – it needs to be created with the end user in mind, writes Jed Miller in The Guardian.

“But online or off, the measure of a tool’s value is it usefulness to the people it is meant to reach. Whether your particular jargon calls them users, readers, audiences, customers or beneficiaries, their needs must be the blueprint of your strategy.”

6 March 2014

How collaborating with patients improves hospital care

hospital-care-improvement-009

The Guardian reports on how a new UK project where patients and NHS staff work together to improve services shows that even small changes can have a big impact on the quality of care.

The project, with an impossibly long name, has been designed by academics from Oxford university’s health experience research group and studies patients’ experience of illness. Working with professor Glenn Robert at King’s College London, who had developed a new approach to help the NHS make better use of patient feedback, the Oxford academics compiled short videos about patients’ experiences of intensive care and lung cancer services.

They formed the basis for small group discussions between medical staff, managers, patients and relatives who identified priorities for change, many of which were then implemented.

Download background materials

12 February 2014

The Museum of Future Government Services

bc-04

The Museum of Future Government Services, which in Dubai on the 10th of February at the UAE Government Summit, is an interactive design futures exhibition.

The Museum explores the future of travel, healthcare, education and urban services. It brings together over 80 designers, technologists and futurists from nearly 20 countries to imagine how these services could be changed for the better in the coming years.

“The first of its kind, the Museum goes far beyond written reports or special effects. It highlights real prototypes of prospective services that could be developed by the governments of tomorrow.

This approach allows visitors to interact with, experience, and enjoy future trends in a way never before possible.

The Museum of Future Government Services paints a bold and hopeful vision of what the future could be. It shows how businesses, governments, and citizenry could work together to create a world-class experience of government services. It is just one possibility among many, illustrating the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

The future is uncertain, but the work of the Museum suggests that bold vision, creative experiments and committed partnerships can build a better world.

Project partners
– Client: The Prime Minister’s Office of the United Arab Emirates
– Lead Exhibition Designer: Tellart, Providence, Rhode Island
– Lead Content Designer: Fabrica, Treviso, Italy
– Lead Creative Consultants: Superflux Studio, London, and Near Future Laboratory, Geneva
– Lead Researcher: The Institute for the Future, Palo Alto, California
– Special Advisor: Dr. Noah Raford

12 February 2014

Data and design in innovative citizen experiences

 

The past decade has brought enormous and growing benefits to ordinary citizens through applications built on public data.

Any release of data offers advantages to experts, such as developers and journalists, but there is a crucial common factor in the most successful open data applications for non-experts: excellent design, writes Cyd Harrell, UX Evangelist at Code for America.

In fact, open data and citizen-centered design are natural partners, especially as the government 2.0 movement turns to improving service delivery and government interaction in tandem with transparency.

It’s nearly impossible to design innovative citizen experiences without data, but that data will not reach its full potential without careful choices about how to aggregate, present, and enable interaction with it.

“Design is a critical practice for enabling open data to reach its full transformative potential. Without citizens being able to interact with government data directly, we are unlikely to trigger a revolution in how services are provided. We all know how much we need that revolution, for reasons of cost, fairness, and human dignity.

Methods drawn from the user experience field are the easiest way to translate open data into a format that’s usable and accessible for the average (or non-average) citizen. The most successful and broadly used open data projects have always relied on design, whether or not people formally trained in design were part of the teams. Our task now is to bring our best design ideas into our shared movement and take advantage of everything the discipline has to offer. With design, we can give the public back its data in real use, as well as in name.”

17 December 2013

Dan Hill: Can public enterprises adopt the popular dynamics of private enterprises?

uber-transport

In his latest Dezeen column, Dan Hill examines what services like the Uber taxi app mean for cities and asks whether the designers of public services can learn something from them.

“So this [i.e. Uber], as with Amazon (and Starbucks, J Crew and the rest) is another cultural blitzkrieg, obliterating difference and leaving high-quality homogeneity in its wake. With clothes and coffee it’s a shame, but not that big a deal. However, when it ploughs into a core urban service like mobility I have, well, a few issues.

Although taxis are a form of privatised transport, they remain part of the city’s civic infrastructure, part of their character. As architect and teacher Robin Boyd wrote, “taxi-men teach the visitor a lot about their towns, intentionally and unintentionally.” Boyd was able to to demarcate Sydney culture from Adelaide culture based on whether the cabbie opens the door for you. I recall scribbling a drawing of a Stephen Holl building I wanted to visit in Beijing, as my only way of communicating my desired destination to the taxi driver. Uber makes transactions easier, but what we gain from a seamless UI, and the convenience of the global currency of apps, we lose from the possibility of understanding a place through a slightly bumpier “seamful” experience.”

In short, Hill is concerned:

“The broader issue is replacement of public services with private services. [...] “Who’s to say that similarly shiny networked services won’t also begin to offer privatised coordination of your waste collection, energy and water provision and so on, to match the trends towards private education, private healthcare and private mail delivery to gated communities?”

So what could public services and public authorities do?

“It may mean that public enterprise has to adopt the popular dynamics, patterns and systems of our age, yet bent into shape for public good. This seems possible, as the GOV.UK project from the UK’s Government Digital Service illustrates. Perhaps by marrying such supremely good interactive work with the ethos and long-term viability of the public sector, services like Uber will be left to play happily in the aspirant niches while high-quality networked public services will be available for all. It is just as viable for public transport systems to apply network logic as it is for Uber to do so, if not easier, as the public sector gets to shape the policy and regulatory environments, as well as the delivery.”

So. he ends, “the design question posed by Uber is: can public enterprises adopt the popular dynamics of private enterprises without also absorbing their underlying ideologies?”