In January, Innovation & Performance worked on a project to explore opportunities to increase access to city benefit programs and streamline program processes. At the outset the solution was predetermined, an online portal which would provide a one-stop shop to all city services and programs. Innovation & Performance doesn’t do predetermined solutions, so we set off to do our own research to test assumptions. We used many approaches to investigate and develop ideas to address the problem such as interviews with city staff, observations of community hubs, and interviews with city residents.
The highlight of the project was a one-day Innovation Lab that we facilitated which brought together community members, city departments, and community -based organizations to brainstorm new ideas to improve how residents connect with city programs that reduce their cost of living.
The Innovation Lab provided an opportunity for a diverse group of voices and perspectives to inform solutions to problems that affect real people. This is a departure from how City governments normally do things. Typically, cities will conduct some method of outreach to community but do not usually invite residents to develop solutions together. This process was successful in exposing city staff to design thinking and the power in designing with and for the people at the center of a problem. It was also fun and sparked some great discussion among people who don’t usually interact with each other.
Learn more by reading the full Affordability Portal Case Study