Feb. 22, 2017 11:06 am

The city wants to talk about better strategic design for its public sector services

The speaker series, hosted in partnership with the University of the Arts’ Design for Social Impact program, kicks off March 30.

Chelsea Mauldin, Public Policy Lab ED, is the first speaker for March 30.

(Screenshot via YouTube)

Strategic design and how it can make public sector services better is a hot-button topic for Philadelphia in 2017.

The City of Philadelphia announced yesterday that, in collaboration with the University of the Arts’ Design for Social Impact program, it will be hosting seven lectures and panels throughout the year for a speaker series titled “BY DESIGN: Transforming public sector services.”

Here’s a list of the panels and details for what will be discussed in each one.

(Quick note, though — some of the lectures and panels will only be for city employees.)

The series is funded primarily by the city with help from a grant provided by Living Cities, the nonprofit collective that’s had a role in a number of service efforts for the city, like with its City Accelerator initiative last year going toward trauma-informed customer service training for staffers in the Revenue and Water departments.

“We’d like to grow the number of people, in and outside of City government, who are interested in using strategic design methods to improve policies and service delivery,” said Liana Dragoman, a user experience strategist for the Office of Open Data and Digital Transformation, in a statement. “This is a great opportunity to gain new skills and learn from each other.”

Dragoman was the one who attended last year’s February OpenAccessPHL meetup to personally ask people for help in designing the city’s new website, which was then at the alpha stage. One year later, the site is now in beta and looking better than ever.

(This reporter particularly appreciated the site’s inclusion of the definitions for design terms such as service design, human-centered design, design thinking, design for social impact and inclusive design.)

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And like Dragoman mentioned at that meetup, improvements and changes will be “inherently a long process,” but the speaker series hopes to make progress by answering these questions and more:

  • “What does public sector strategic design look like in practice and what role can it play in transforming government services for the better?
  • What can the private sector learn from public sector service design inventiveness?
  • How can massive, complex government agencies reorient around the needs of the public — delivering more dignified, accessible, and equitable services?
  • What is the relationship between strategic design and organizational change?
  • How do participatory design methods encourage cross-agency and cross-sector collaboration that results in empowering government services?”

The first public lecture is by Chelsea Mauldin, executive director of the Brooklyn-based Public Policy Lab, where she’ll be talking about “service delivery and policy-making for the people, by the people,” in addition to specific case studies, will be held March 30 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the University of the Arts’ CBS Auditorium.

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