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A Headshot of Alannah Rodgers

Disco Innovation Studio sat down with Alannah Rodgers, an urban planner in a small, seaside city with big ideas: Victoria, British Columbia. Over the years, Alannah has helped create public spaces that are inclusive, accessible, and meet the needs of community members. Alannah’s work is a living and breathing example of how human-centred design can act as a creative approach to problem solving that starts with building a deep understanding of the people you’re designing for.

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself.

A: I’m a daughter of two urban planners so it’s sort of all I’ve ever known. I’ve worked for transit agencies, land developers and the provincial and local government. No matter where I’ve worked, I’ve always had the same passion and that’s been to make a difference for community members. …


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We do not engage with public services until we need them most. And when we need them, we need them ASAP. Over time, government services like paying taxes or changing the address on your driver’s license have been digitally transformed to be more responsive to our needs. There is still much to be done, but many of the ways citizens interact with their governments are now digital, and this transformation has been made possible through service design.

Embarking on a journey of re-designing services that underpin the inner workings of how citizens interact with the government is no small feat. I have taken three core lessons away from being involved in this work. …


User Journey Mapping in Denmark

In the world of user experience, we like to think of user journeys as a visual interpretation of an individual’s relationships and interactions with a product over time and across different touchpoints or channels. Creating user journeys or maps is a strategy executed by service designers in the discovery stage of a project. They usually look a little something like this:

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Customer Journey Map by the Nielson Norman Group

During the discovery stage, service designers are often trying to understand the lay of the land — what is the user flow of the process that currently exists? What pain points exist for the user? Are there unnecessary steps within the user’s journey that can be simplified? By empathizing and understanding where your users are coming from, you can better support the enhancements to the product moving forward.


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Photo by Pierre Châtel-Innocenti on UnSplash

Denmark is one of the leading digital governments in Europe, as ranked by the UN E-Government Survey which measures a government’s ability to deliver public services digitally to its citizens. Performance indicators for the E-Government Benchmark report include user centricity, transparency, cross-border mobility and key enablers.

I will break down the four indicators and explore the ways in which Denmark is strategically delivering on the United Nations E-Government framework.

User Centricity

User Centricity tracks how a digital service is available to (and accessed by) citizens of a given country.


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What is your role in BC GOV and what product are you currently working on at the Exchange Lab?

Hello internet! My name is Roxanne and I am a Senior User Experience Researcher who works with Natural Resource Ministries of the B.C. Government to build meaningful digital platforms for citizens in British Columbia.

Currently, I am working on EPIC, which is named for the “Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) Project Information and Collaboration”, and is a place where Indigenous Nations, government agencies, and the public have the ability to participate in the environmental assessment process. …


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Photo Courtesy: Adriano Design

Spaces are shrinking. The once-enamoured 4-bedroom brownstone with a fenced-in yard has transformed into a Marie Kondo, minimalist, 500 sq. foot paradise. We are deliberately removing excess and distraction from our spaces. We want to create intentional spaces with less clutter, less stuff.

Technology and product development have shifted in the same direction. With each iteration of product development and its release, we are continuously striving to do more with less, both through its function and aesthetic.

Turin-based company, Adriano Design, has done just that. …


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United Nations Headquarters, New York, United States

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) leads the charge toward a cohesive and coherent response to natural disasters and other emergencies globally. By coordinating humanitarian action, it is OCHA’s goal that all crisis-affected individuals receive the support and protection that they require.

An essential component of working to overcome obstacles that impede humanitarian assistance in a time of need is communication — how can we collaborate with humanitarian actors to ensure our communication to crisis-affected individuals is understood? How can we communicate complex problems simpler, to individuals who have experienced a severely traumatic experience?

In 2012, OCHA developed 250 icons representing subjects of interest to the humanitarian community. Why? “These icons were developed because at OCHA we understand that during the response to an emergency it is critical to share and understand complex information in a timely, visual, compelling fashion.” Since the initial release in 2012, the public domain of icons has been downloaded over 300 times per day. …


How can designers use iconography to enhance user experience?

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Photo by Miguel Orós on Unsplash

Iconography is a visual language used to represent features, functionality, or content. Icons are meant to be simple, visual elements that are recognized and understood immediately.”

Through metaphorical association, an icon can communicate a concept or idea that facilitates action. Many of these icons have grown to become universal. What does it mean when you are engaging with a user interface, and you see a small garbage can? By clicking that garbage can, you can probably delete something.

When is it appropriate to use iconography?

I have found that the transition to mobile being the primary platform for interface and experience design, icons have become a great solution for the lack of space on smaller screens. …


How did Estonia become the most advanced digital society in the world?

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Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash

Estonia is a northern European country nestled on the eastern shore of the Baltic sea, across from the Gulf of Finland. Its population is just 1.3 million — the same as the state of New Hampshire — making it one of the least populous member states within the European Union.

Last year, Wired Magazine named Estonia the most advanced digital society in the world. E-Estonia is a term used to describe the rise of Estonia as one of the most innovative, forward-thinking information societies globally. The advancements that Estonia has contributed to the movement toward a digital government is admirable and should be used as a framework for what can happen when safe and easy-to-use e-services ecosystems are used as a platform to streamline public services, connect with systems, and create innovative e-solutions for governments and businesses at a municipal, federal, and international level. …


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Photo by Brxxto on Unsplash

Sidewalk Toronto is a collaborative initiative by Waterfront Toronto (public entity) and Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs (private entity and sister company of Google). The goal is to create a mixed-use urban community with new digital technology, thereby creating a ‘digital layer’ of data and technology meant to bolster the community it serves with regards to sustainability, mobility, and innovation.

Although Sidewalk Labs has revealed an integrated approach to the development of Sidewalk Toronto, through stakeholder engagement and public consultation, tensions are beginning to rise about

1) the authenticity of public consultations that are being led and framed by the vendor themselves…

About

roxanne van gemert

co-founder @ disco innovation studio. writing thoughtful dialogue on the design of everyday interfaces + experiences.

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