Recap: Civic Service Design Studio + Toolkit Launch

On October 6, 2017, the NYC Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity, Citi Community Development, and the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City launched the nation’s first-ever Service Design Studio and Toolkit dedicated to improving services for low-income residents.

A crowd of designers, public servants, students, professors, and non-profit staff came together at Parsons School of Design at the New School to celebrate the launch.

An Innovative Approach To Improving Public Services

The launch of the Service Design Studio is part of an emerging trend integrating design into government and policy. “Finding a place for design in government can come in different forms — one way is by creating new infrastructures and norms to allow emerging forms of public innovation to flourish and exist in government,” said Eduardo Staszowski, Associate Professor of Design Strategies at Parsons School of Design and co-founder and Director of the Parsons DESIS Lab. The Studio is one of those “places with the ability to experiment and try new things — where designers can experiment with policy, policy makers can experiment with service design, and public servants can co-design with city residents.”

The Studio is part of a growing civic design community, but is unique in that it operates inside city government. “This is a project that no doubt will affect millions of New Yorkers using city services on a daily basis,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director, Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City. “But we also know that the work kicks off a new era of program and policy design. It’s one that’s going to leave its mark not only here in New York City, but also to serve as model for municipalities and regions looking to bring a new phase of civic design into the work of delivering public services.”

One of the Studio’s primary goals is to help city agencies understand and meet the needs of the people who will be receiving, delivering, and managing public services. For Bob Annibale, Global Director, Citi Community Development and Inclusive Finance, service design helps bring those needs front and center. “Many of us were trapped in the past, in a view of ‘process re-engineering’…very rarely did it really focus on what we might have called ‘the end user’”, said Mr. Annibale. “But in using service design for financial inclusion, the user is the beginning of the process and the journey. We’re going beyond simply process re-engineering, and really designing with people to produce better outcomes.”

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