THE PUBLIC COLLABORATION LAB
How can a visual system help government collaborate with design education to better serve its citizens?
The London Borough of Camden is facing a 50% cut in funding. It will undertake major changes that will inevitably affect its services and procedures. The Public Collaboration Lab conducted a set of projects that aimed to find innovative solutions to these challenges. After 18 months of research, collaboration, and prototyping, PCL wanted to share their ideas.
The Public Collaboration Lab is an action research partnership between Camden Council, a large London borough, and University of the Arts London, a world-renowned design institution. The project explored the role of the collaboration between the two organizations and how design teaching can contribute to public service and policy. It prototyped a place for collaboration, experimentation and experiential learning to explore the co-creation of services and policies that may improve the lives of citizens.
The team prototyped a framework for multi-disciplinary collaboration and human-centered innovation.
PCL’s research team conducted six community projects that focused on gaining insight and solutions for specific public services. The team ran workshops, held events, coordinated planning meetings and engaged with the public. Users of the services, public servants, and members of the public were invited to share their experiences, knowledge and ideas.
By sharing the process of the project, other organizations can learn how to plan and facilitate their own innovative collaborations.
The project was documented in a variety of formats: printed books, a website with downloadable pdfs, online content and conference presentations. PCL was very transparent in the information they shared as the team remained dedicated to contributing to the progression and creation of society’s future. By making the materials so readily available, the insights can inform and enable other partnerships navigating complex challenges.
The PCL team developed a set of tools that can help plan future local government and design education collaborative projects.
Pairing local government and design education is not an obvious answer when dealing with budget cut challenges. But through the six projects within PCL, the team was able to develop a method to making the partnership effective and organized. A set of planning tools was created and tested to help bridge the gap between the two organizations. The codification of these projects can give other partnerships a jumpstart in their own efforts.
Diagrams were designed to help the planning stages of collaborative projects. They introduced new teams to the process and helped define who would be involved, the stages of the project, and what the goals of the project were. Clear communication and alignment across both organizations proved to be crucial.
The visual system brought together many types of information in a way that let the success of the project own an identity.
It was really important to make the vast amount of insights accessible to people who might not be well-versed in design, prototyping, or experimentation. The academic rigor that went into the project had to be presented in a way that others could easily grasp. The look maintained authority without inflicting superiority.
Icons added another dimension to making the content of the tools easy to understand. By making the planning process more visual, everyone on the team could be on the same page more quickly.
Photos were taken from all kinds of participants. The styles were all different and consistency was nonexistent. A treatment to each photo transformed them into a series.
Visual system design
A standard uni course diagram becomes user- friendly.