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Putting People First

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Posts in category 'Public services'

13 December 2012

Charles Leadbeater on scaling and system innovation in public services

 

On 26 November MindLab, the Danish citizen-centric governmental innovation unit, invited Charles Leadbeater for its morning lecture series.

Leadbeater, a leading authority on innovation and creativity, talked about scaling and system innovation in public services.

MindLab is a cross-ministerial innovation unit which involves citizens and businesses in creating new solutions for society. They work with the civil servants in their three parent ministries: the Ministry of Business and Growth, the Ministry of Taxation and the Ministry of Employment. These three ministries cover broad policy areas that affect the daily lives of virtually all Danes. Entrepreneurship, climate change, digital self-service, citizen’s rights, emplyment services and workplace safety are some of the areas they address.

3 October 2012

How to create a cutting edge Smart City visitor experience

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A four step guide from the Milan Expo 2015:

Step 1
Ask your main sponsors (in this case Cisco, Enel and Telecom Italia) to indicate the relevant “Smart City” technologies that they already have, are currently working on, or are generally trendy.
In the Milan case these are push technology services, QR codes, smart phone apps, mapping services, RFID tags, biometric identification, security services, electronic walls, gestural interfaces, augmented reality (and eyewear), immersive virtual reality, 3D avatars, health tracking services, and foldable tablets.

Step 2
Agree with these sponsors to hire an advertising agency to develop a short video scenario of the Expo 2015 visitor experience, using all these technologies, and obviously adhering to the general vision and principles of the Expo.

Step 3 (VERY IMPORTANT):

  • DO NOT make it realistic by introducing context, such as the City of Milan, traffic, other digital services people might use, other people, or anyone who may not be familiar with smartphones, gestural interfaces, QR codes
  • DO NOT base your ideas on the actual behaviour of people – since it will be impossible to say how people might behave in 2015, any user research is distracting
  • DO NOT show any use that goes beyond what you can already do on a smartphone or website in 2012 – like navigating, browsing and communicating – and emphasize passive media consumption
  • DO NOT indicate that people (and small companies) can create their own bottom up services – as this might be a security risk

Inadvertently doing any of the above, will diminish the power of the perfect visitor experience you aim to create.

Step 4
Use this video in key presentations on your Smart City credentials and highlight how these services will resolve the key visitor experience problem that came to the fore during the recent Beijing expo: queues.

The result: Expo 2015 Smart City video (Italian version)

(I hope you capture my irony.)

14 September 2012

The age of data sharing (report)

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We live in an age of sharing. As consumers and online, we regularly share personal information, and generate new data through our browsing or purchasing history. Businesses and government are increasingly aware of the value of this information, which can result in better and cheaper services for customers, new sources of income for businesses and improved public services. But the question of who owns this information, and how it is collected, stored and used, is becoming a major consumer rights issue. It is crucial, therefore, that people are at the heart of any new settlement.

The Data Dialogue report (80 pages), released today by Demos UK, sets out the results of the largest ever poll of public attitudes on personal information and data-sharing. Based on a representative sample of 5,000 adults, the report finds a growing crisis in consumer confidence over how government and business handle personal data, and discomfort about the way in which personal information and data are currently being used.

The report argues that this loss of confidence could have a knock-on effect on the economy and on the quality of services available to consumers. However, it also finds that views about sharing change when people are given more control and choice about what data is shared, and when the benefit of sharing that data is made clear to them. It therefore suggests that consumers should be engaged in an honest dialogue about how data are collected and used, and be given meaningful choice and control over the information they share. That will be good for business and consumers alike.

4 September 2012

MindLab, Denmark’s cross-ministerial innovation unit

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MindLab is a Danish cross-ministerial innovation unit which involves citizens and businesses in creating new solutions for society. It is also a physical space – a neutral zone for inspiring creativity, innovation and collaboration.

They work with the civil servants in three parent ministries: the Ministry of Business and Growth, the Ministry of Taxation and the Ministry of Employment. These three ministries cover broad policy areas that affect the daily lives of virtually all Danes. Entrepreneurship, climate change, digital self-service, citizen’s rights, emplyment services and workplace safety are some of the areas they address.

Working with user-centred innovation requires a systematic approach to what needs to be investigated plus a wide variety of methodologies. MindLab’s methodologies are anchored in design-centred thinking, qualitative research and policy development, with the aim of including the reality experienced by both the public and businesses into the development of new public-sector solutions.

Their work is based on a process model which consists of seven phases: project focus, learning about the users, analysis, idea and concept development, concept testing, the communication of results and impact measurement.

MindLab is instrumental in helping the ministry’s key decision-makers and employees view their efforts from the outside-in, to see them from a citizen’s perspective. They use this approach as a platform for co-creating better ideas.

MindBlog, MindLab’s blog, is very rich in content and worth delving into. The keywords are: citizen-centred innovation, anthropological methods, service design, public development, communication, idea and concept development, innovation strategy and cross-institutional collaboration.

2 September 2012

Focus on service design – in UK and in Italy

 

Earlier this year, the UK Design Council and the Arts & Humanities Research Council conducted a wide ranging review of the place of design research in UK universities, and its connection with businesses and policymakers. The aim was to identify future areas for research funding, and new and innovative ways of bringing research and industry together to contribute their ideas.

The findings from the initial scoping study indicated that a focus on service design is of the utmost importance, as it is an interesting field both in the design profession and in academic research, and one in which there is considerable opportunity for engagement with business:

“In relation to the UK design industry and the disciplines that we reviewed, we think it would be fair to say that the area that is perhaps most neglected is the developing sector and discipline of service design. It was certainly the area most regularly cited as in need of attention across all of the stakeholder research that we have conducted, but also has the potential to make major contributions to innovation and to major challenges such as health and sustainability.”

We believe that it is bringing together economists, design businesses and design researchers in multidisciplinary teams that will generate evidence that can fill some of the gaps currently seen in the literature.”

The Design Council will now conduct a study of service design that will conclude in November.

Italy

In Italy, there is a strong tradition of service design at academic level, with high-level English language Masters programmes at Domus Academy (directed by Elena Pacenti) and at the Milan Polytechnic (directed by Anna Meroni).

But too few of the students end up working as service designers in Italy, and despite good initiatives such as Feeding Milano (LIFT conference video), the impact of these programmes on public services is still scarce.

We at Experientia contribute to making that change happen, having hired former students from both programmes and also recruited their interns. They work with Italian and global players in multi-disciplinary and evidence-based projects, as recommended by the Design Council scoping study. Experientia partners Jan-Christoph Zoels and Mark Vanderbeeken also taught service design this Spring at resp. Domus and the Polytechnic, eager to inspire future positive change in the Italian context.

14 August 2012

Care at a Distance : On the Closeness of Technology

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Care at a Distance : On the Closeness of Technology
By Jeannette Pols
Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam
2012, 204 pages

This widely researched study demonstrates convincingly that neither grandiose promises nor nightmare scenarios have much to do with actual care practices employing telecare.

Combining detailed ethnographic studies of nurses and patients involved in telecare with a broad theoretical frameworky from various disciplines, the author concludes that these practices leads to more rather than less intense caring relations, resulting from a spectacular raise in the frequency of contacts between nurses and patients.

Patients are much taken with this, not because they feel they are finally able to manage themselves, but because they can ‘leave things to the experts’. The patients find that caring is something that is best done for others.

The book frames urgent questions about the future of telecare and the ways in which innovative care practices can be built on facts rather than hopes, hypes or nightmares.

Jeannette Pols is a researcher at the Amsterdam Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam.

Download study (free)

2 June 2012

US Veterans Administration launches iPad patient study on tablet use

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The US Veterans Administration has announced it has created an initiative aimed at studying the benefits associated with the use of mhealth apps and tablet devices to improve and coordinate care between physicians, veterans and their families/caregivers.

To that end, the VA is handing out 1,000 iPads to veteran’s families in the “Clinic-in-Hand” pilot program. These are not just stock iPads either, they will come pre-loaded with apps that are designed to facilitate communication with the veteran’s physician.

Read article

28 May 2012

Experientia concept video for a sustainable trade fair centre

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The Event project for Kortrijk Xpo, Belgium, developed concepts for how to make trade fairs and temporary events more sustainable.

Experientia® developed the resulting concepts into a video, showcasing four of the best concepts in action.

The video of these concepts is now online on Experientia’s vimeo channel.

The “Virtual Xpo” concept focused on ways to reduce travel and to encourage lower-impact travel to expositions.

“Living Kortrijk” envisioned ways to make the expo centre’s sustainable values and solutions available throughout the city.

The “Booth dashboard” visualises the carbon impact and/or savings of creating each expo booth, as well as its energy use during the event.

“Eco-fair network” proposes a collective, global movement to make expo centres more sustainable.

25 May 2012

Obama White House unveils plan to bring US Federal Government into the mobile age

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The White House has unveiled plans to bring US governance into the mobile-centric twenty-first century. Dubbed the “Roadmap for a Digital Government,” the plan has two central principles.

First, it tasks federal agencies with giving citizens easier access to information and services on modern web and mobile apps. Second, it hopes to instil a culture of treating government as an open-source project by inviting external developers to create third-party apps using federal data and APIs.

At its core, the roadmap is an acknowledgment of the growing proliferation of mobile devices and demand for easier access to government information in the United States. A study conducted in March of this year found that almost half of all Americans own a smartphone, up from 35% last year.

- Article (The Information Daily)
- Official announcement by the Federal Chief Information Officer
- Digital Government Strategy (PDF / HTML5)

11 May 2012

People-powered health co-production catalogue

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The people at Nesta, the UK innovation charity, think that co-production is potentially transformative and its power comes from re-framing the problem and re-establishing relationships to enable more holistic and people-centred approaches. Co-production can also tackle the lack of trust between some users and professionals, a dependency culture where people look to the state to solve their problems and a culture of expertise where professionals are trained to be the sole source of solutions. At its best, co-production can build people’s capacity to live the life they want, in the community where they live.

This catalogue of co-production has been created as part of Nesta’s People Powered Health programme run with the Innovation Unit. People Powered Health is a practical innovation programme, to explore how co-production can support people living with long term conditions. We’re particularly interested in how to move co-production from the margins to the mainstream. Part of achieving that shift will involve a better understanding of what co-production can achieve and what it looks and feels like on the ground.

The catalogue, therefore, brings together some inspiring examples of collaborative public services in action, with a particular focus on health and social care. Each case study has been assessed against the Nesta and nef principles of co-production. This is done in the spirit of exploration rather than judgement – many of the case studies were never meant to represent co-production so it is no surprise they are stronger on some principles than others. The idea is to use these pioneering examples to increase our collective understanding of what co-production is and to raise our sights of what is possible.

To realise the potential of co-production we need to be able to explain it clearly and to build the evidence of what it can achieve. Our hope is that this catalogue contributes to these aims and stimulates some new ideas about how to use co-production to develop truly people powered public services.

18 April 2012

The Smart City starts with you

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Wired UK has published a guest post by Usman Haque, founder of Pachube.com and director at Haque Design + Research and CEO of Connected Environments, where he argues that current Smart Cities initiatives are looking for a one-size fits all, top-down strategic approach to sustainability, citizen well-being and economic development, and that their strategies focus on the city as a single entity, rather than the people — citizens — that bring it to life.

“Any adequate model for the smart city must focus on the smartness of its citizens and encourage the processes that make cities important: those that sustain very different — sometimes conflicting — activities. Cities are, by definition, engines of diversity so focusing solely on streamlining utilities, transport, construction and unseen government processes can be massively counter-productive, in much the same way that the 1960s idealistic fondness for social-housing tower block economic efficiency was found, ultimately, to be socially and culturally unsustainable.

We, citizens, create and recreate our cities with every step we take, every conversation we have, every nod to a neighbour, every space we inhabit, every structure we erect, every transaction we make. A smart city should help us increase these serendipitous connections. It should actively and consciously enable us to contribute to data-making (rather than being mere consumers of it), and encourage us to make far better use of data that’s already around us.”

Read article

12 April 2012

Boston Citizens Connect

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With its Citizens Connect app, Boston is showing how to use technology to empower citizens and involve them in the inner workings of the city. Hana Schank reports on FastCo.Exist.

“Some cities seem to take an approach to digital that either involves throwing a bunch of stuff against a wall to see what sticks, or focusing on back-end upgrades that are largely invisible to citizens. Boston, however, has a unique approach which has not only earned it recognition as a top digital city, but which also allows the city to develop truly user-centered digital applications.

Co-chaired by Nigel Jacob and Chris Osgood, the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics acts more like an open-door digital consultancy than just another city agency in that it spends time talking to city agencies and citizens alike in order to find out what people need and then developing accordingly. In other words, the office gets users involved throughout the process in a meaningful way, and the result is apps that work.”

Read article

6 April 2012

Don Tapscott: The internet’s real killer app is saving the planet

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All our global institutions — from the United Nations to the World Trade Organization to the International Monetary Fund to the G20 to the G8 — are broken, according to Don Tapscott, the best-selling author of Macrowikinomics.

In an 8 minute video interview on TechCrunch – recorded last week at The Economist‘s Innovation event in Berkeley – he outlined how we can rebuild these global institutions in the digital 21st century.

We need to rebuild our institutions around open source technology, wikis, social media and all the other distributed models that are shaping our networked world, says Tapscott, who has brought together a number of other leading thinkers – Jonathan Zittrain from Harvard and writers Parag Khanna and Richard Florida, for example – to participate in this ambitious project to reinvent the planet in our digital century.

It sounds highly if not over-ambitious.

Watch video

4 April 2012

On Facebook, some friendly energy rivalry

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Opower [is a company] that blends behavioral science and data analysis to find ways to help utilities get their customers to use less electricity.

[Their] thinking is that it’s not so much factual information that motivates behavioral change — knowing that smoking is bad for you, or that most electricity generation emits heat-trapping carbon dioxide – but the way that such information plays off social relationships and creates peer pressure. Now the company is harnessing social media to further that kind of psychological connection as well.

Teaming with Facebook, energy conservation advocates and the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, Opower released a new app on Tuesday that will allow interested parties in 20 million households served by 16 utilities to post their energy use on their Facebook pages and invite friends to do so as well. The option is available from participating utilities in California, New York and points in between.

Read article

21 March 2012

Helsinki Street Eats: a book about everyday food

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Helsinki Street Eats: a book about everyday food
By Bryan Boyer and Dan Hill, with contributions from Ville Tikka, Nuppu Gävert, Tea Tonnov, and Kaarle Hurtig.
Sitra / Low2No

Street food describes systems of everyday life. In its sheer everydayness we discover attitudes to public space, cultural diversity, health, regulation and governance, our habits and rituals, logistics and waste, and more.

It can be an integral part of our public life, our civic spaces, our streets, our neighbourhoods. Street food can help us articulate our own culture, as well as enriching it by absorbing diverse influences. And it can enable innovation at an accelerated pace by offering a lower-risk environement for experimentation.

Street food can do all of these things, but it doesn’t necessarily.

This book is an attempt to unpack what’s working and what isn’t in Helsinki, and sketch out some trajectories as to where it could go next.

We see that the history of Helsinki’s street food is inextricably tied to food in Finland in general, and so it is caught up in deep currents of regulation, politics, commerce, national identity and culture. As unlikely as it may seem, when viewed from this historical and cultural perspective, street food might be a powerful force for shaping everyday life. It also presents an economic opportunity.

The Low2No project is interested in understanding these systems of everyday life, in order to assess how best to support, influence, and invest into them to enable a greater capacity for sustainable well-being. We’re interested in enabling food entrepreneurship with an eye towards diversity, quality, and sustainability – this short book is our first step towards our next projects in this space. Take a bite – download a PDF or order a print-on-demand copy – and get in touch if you want more.

See also: Bryan Boyer’s blog post on the book

14 March 2012

M-Government – Mobile technologies for responsive governments and connected societies

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This report by Hani Eskandar (ITU), Barbara- Chiara Ubaldi (OECD) and Vyacheslav Cherkasov (UN-DESA) highlights the critical potential of mobile technologies for improved public governance, as well as for economic and social progress in achieving the internationally agreed development goals including the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The September 2011 report also provides an in-depth analysis of the prerequisites for m-government, its main benefits and challenges, the value-chain and key stakeholders, and the checklist of concrete actions to sustain policy makers in monitoring and updating their knowledge on m-government.

Chapters:
1. Toward the next generation of public services
2. Benefits and outcomes of m-government
3. Understanding m-government adoption
4. Prerequisites for agility and ubiquity
5. Technology options for mobile solutions
6. M-Vision and a call to action

The report was drafted by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in collaboration with the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA).

Download report

(via MobileActive)

20 November 2011

Enabling codesign

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The term co-design refers to a philosophical and political approach to design best applied throughout the design life cycle. Codesign builds on the methods and principles of Participatory Design which assumes ‘users’ are the experts of their own domain and should be actively involved in the design process.

This article explores some of the methodological tools design strategist Penny Hagen and design researcher Natalie Rowland use to enable codesign. Specifically, they explore the rationale behind some common workshop techniques used early in the design process, which combine the activities of research and idea generation.

Read article

10 November 2011

Transforming behaviour change

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The RSA’s latest report, Transforming Behaviour Change: Beyond Nudge and Neuromania, argues for a more sophisticated understanding of the relationship between our social challenges, our behaviours and our brains.

Abstract

The Government is taking behavioural science very seriously, but existing nudge-based approaches to behaviour change tend to represent what Aditya Chakraborty called “Cute technocratic solutions to most minor problems”. The major adaptive challenges of our time, including debt, climate change, public health and mental health, require a deeper and more ambitious approach.

Transforming Behaviour Change argues for a more sophisticated understanding of the relationship between our social challenges, our behaviours and our brains, based on a considered response to two major cultural developments. The first is the growing ascendancy of neuroscientific interpretations of human behaviour, leading to fears of reductionism and pharmaceutical control. The second is behaviour change becoming an explicit goal of government policy, leading to fears of Government manipulation and coercion.

The report critically engages with these two developments, and proposes an alternative approach to behaviour change that builds on existing public and professional interest in brains and behaviour. We set out to shift attention away from the threatening idea of ‘science as authority’, justifying moral judgements, medical interventions and policy positions, and focus instead on the more productive notion of ‘science as provocation’, helping people foster the kinds of self-awareness and behaviour change they are seeking to develop.

12 October 2011

Mr Cameron, it’s time to get the designers in

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Ageing populations and budget cuts mean devising a new social contract. So why not use real designers – it’s worked in Finland, asks Justin McGuirk, design writer at The Guardian.

“If a country has the best education system in the world, it could be forgiven for resting on its laurels. Yet Finland, which routinely tops the Pisa education rankings, refuses to do so. The country has other major issues on the agenda, such as how to become carbon neutral and how to look after the most rapidly ageing population in Europe. And when the nation wants to address these questions, it turns to Sitra, the Finnish Innovation Fund. Most governments have a cluster of thinktanks and policy groups at their disposal to tackle their country’s challenges. But what’s different about Sitra is that it uses designers.”

Read article

(Disclosure: Experientia is consultant to Sitra.)

12 October 2011

Guardian Tech Weekly podcast: creating a digital public space

Jemima Kiss
Jemima Kiss examines plans for a digital public space with the British Library, the Royal Opera House and the BBC.

“How can we preserve analogue culture in a digital world? Could something allow us to view, research & remix cultural items? Jemima Kiss examines plans for a digital public space – a part of the internet that could grant worldwide access and create links between museums, archives and libraries.

Jemima talks to Richard Ranft of the British Library and Francesca Franchi of the Royal Opera House about the items and artefacts from their archives that a digital public space could open up to the public, and how the reach of both organisations can be dramatically extended to a worldwide audience.

Bill Thompson, head of partnerships at the BBC’s archive (but also of the Digital Planet and Click programmes) explains how the corporation could help build what is needed, and how it could work.

And Jill Cousins of europeana.eu discusses how similar project that is funded by the European Commission works, and how it has now developed into a full service.”

Listen to podcast