Bruce Mau, Massive Change, 2005
For most of us, design is invisible. Until it fails.
Public services have a direct effect on our quality of life. As aspirations of Irish people grow, the ability of public services to satisfy their needs reduces. Experience around the world shows us that the answer is not simply to throw money at the problem.
Transmilenio, Bogotá, Columbia. Source: Peter Danielsson. WRI Features. Managing Editor: Peter Denton.
In Bogotá, Columbia, just two years since the re-design of Transmilenio, the newly designed BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) system, there have been radical improvements in mobility and overall quality of life: decreases in travel time for users (32%), violent crime city-wide (50%), traffic accidents (80%), number of fatalities cause by traffic accidents (30%), and noise pollution (30%); and an increase in time spent by mothers and fathers with their children (37%).
Design thinking can play a tangible role in delivering improved effectiveness within the public sector by focusing services on the needs of users. Simply redesigning a form can have a huge impact; when the UK Post Office redesigned its Change of Address Service form, completion went from 87% incorrect to 90% correct.
In 2005, the Irish Revenue’s on-line service received an award for the re-design of its online services. The eGovernment award was within the ‘impact’ category, measuring the benefit of the service to citizens, business and government. 65% of timely filers used the system, up from 9% in 2002. Online payment of tax increased by €500 million over 2004. The service has allowed administration to redeploy staff to important compliance and investigative work.
Impact is best measured in terms of productivity, an area that is notoriously difficult to influence within public services. For example, research conducted by the NHS in the UK that shows that a well-designed therapeutic environment speeds up patient recovery by 14% on average.i
Undertaking true reform of public services in Ireland can be accelerated through the effective use of design to align those services with the needs of users. Such a shift would also act as a spur to private sector suppliers to innovate, thereby capturing wider markets for their goods and services.ii