Gov Design: a meetup to bring together designers working in government

5 Jul 2017, 10:13 am

By Kara Kane and Martin Jordan from the Government Digital Service

The London Gov Design meetup brings together designers working in, for or with government to exchange knowledge, share experiences and support each other. The meetup is open to the public to invite students and other people interested in design in the public sector. It’s organised by a group of designers working for the Government Digital Service and the Royal College of Art:

Gov Design meetup #3 focused on the growing importance and interest in design in local government. We invited local authorities and people working with local government to talk about how they are using design to improve services for users and citizens. Islington Council provided the space at Islington Town Hall—a perfect location for this event.

There were four presentations followed by a panel discussion:

Barbara Keating, Solution Architect at London Borough of Islington
Open standard principles and shared digital

Amy Ricketts,  Service Designer and Nina Timmers, Organisation Designer at FutureGov
Making change happen

Egle Uzkuraityte, Engagement Lead for Verify Local at Government Digital Service
The #VerifyLocal story so far

Mia Peters, Service Designer at London Borough of Waltham Forest
Waltham Forest service design

A few themes emerged from the presentations: the importance of cross-government collaboration, the need for building capability, and the strategy to deliver results early and often to build trust.

#1 Cross-government collaboration

Barbara Keating from Islington Council spoke about how Islington, Camden, and Haringey Councils are joining up to have one shared digital and ICT (information and communication technology) service. They are looking at how shared design principles and open standard principles can help the councils work better together.

Egle Uzkuraityte from Verify Local explained how the Government Digital Service is working with 7 local authorities to enable local authorities to use GOV.UK Verify. They are piloting Verify on 2 services shared across the local authorities–older people’s concessionary travel and residential parking permits, to show how Verify can work for local government.

#2 Building capability

Amy Ricketts and Nina Timmers from FutureGov spoke about how enabling others helps make change happen. They used a case study on fostering in partnership with Bexley Council to describe how they worked closely with the council and slowly handed over the ownership of the make, test, learn cycle. They designed tools in the systems the council already uses such as Microsoft Word instead of InDesign, so that the council could immediately start to integrate the tools into their processes.

Mia Peters from Waltham Forest Council brought up the idea that service design needs more than service designers. She talked about the need to give people the confidence to work with a service design mindset, and think about what design skills can and should be transferred to others outside of design.

#3 Deliver results early and often to build trust

Mia Peters talked about how her team delivered results and put users at the centre of everything they do, which built trust from the rest of the organisation in the design team. She went on to talk about how if service designers were not in the transformation team then it would just be a savings team. Designers think about solving the right problem and the impact of a project.

Amy and Nina from FutureGov talked about delivering early in order to show the value of the design process and build trust in the methods.

Find out more about Gov Design

To find out about upcoming Gov Design events join the Gov Design meetup group. If you’d like to get in touch to host a meetup or present your work at a future event please contact us via the meetup page or message us on Twitter.