We are witnessing an increasingly complex mix of user requirements applied to environmental planning initiatives through our national and international work in both the UK and Australia. Through our deep experience in this space, we understand the value in capturing and understanding user needs to inform service design. Who are the users? What problems must a service or product tackle as a priority? How do we validate if what is created or offered is meeting users’ needs?
Over the years, our user-centred design (UCD) teams have tackled the innovative transformation of services in the environmental and sustainable land asset management sectors that have met a wide variety of needs; from the understanding and reduction of harmful pollution through national clean air zones, to enabling the whole-of-government sharing of environmental data in New South Wales and enhancing digital capability in support of Scottish rural agricultural policy. Now more than ever, we are seeing a complex mix of user requirements and needs applied to smarter environmental planning initiatives through our national and international work in both the UK and Australia with New South Wales Government, The Crown Estate, and NatureScot.
Through all our rich experience in this space, we understand the value in capturing and understanding user needs to inform service design. Who are the users? What problems must a service tackle as a priority? How do we validate if the service is meeting user need?
Keeping the user at the heart of any solution is the ingredient for success. Empathy lies at the heart of quality design. Ultimately, there is only one user need, which is to achieve their end goal.
For example: Someone wants to develop on sensitive land, or they want to receive compensation or a grant payment to support their business, or to make changes to land surrounding a property. Badly designed services can be a barrier to a user achieving success. Services that are designed around users’ needs allow them to achieve their end goals with minimal disruption. This ultimately will result in higher overall customer satisfaction and increased user engagement.
That being said – all too often business needs can play second fiddle, or indeed be overlooked when designing a service. How a business functions, and what it needs from the service, plays a critical role in effectively delivering to end users. By working closely with organisations and their internal users we can design and develop services that satisfy everyone’s needs, thereby reducing the time, effort, and resource to implement service design. From our experience, one of our key takeaways, and a cornerstone of our user-centred design approach, is the importance of understanding organisations’ drivers and needs to ultimately help external users achieve their own goals.
Taking our work with NatureScot in support of Scottish Government’s aims to protect Scottish land and be a global leader in sustainable land management as an example: At present, citizens wishing to develop or change land use must submit planning applications via their local authority, whose team then pass these onto NatureScot to consult the relevant data sources on land quality, protection measures, and associated risks before making a decision on whether permission can be granted.
By taking a holistic user-centred design approach to the development of a first of its kind AI powered land asset management platform called InformedDECISION©, we honed-in on the critical workflows and data needed to help NatureScot’s team of experts make fast and accurate decisions, thus better meeting the citizens’ needs.
Additionally, through the improvement and transformation of NatureScot’s internal processes around data collection, analysis, and local authority and citizen engagement, we are now able to generate greater value in external facing services that help citizens gain faster, more effective, and accurate answers to their application, whilst helping meet Scottish Government’s aims to sustainably manage land.
Through capturing these experiences and learnings InformedDECISION© enables decision makers to search and extract information from large, distributed, and unstructured data sources, in real time, to support complex decision making. Given what we’ve outlined above, we are able to combine the AI and data science capabilities contained in this platform with our unique approach to UCD and service design to ensure that both internal and external user needs are met to dramatically improve the efficiency and value of services.
By leveraging UCD principles, service designers can stay focused on creating optimal, user-friendly solutions that embrace the art and science of user-centred approaches to design, which balance the needs of end user of a solution (e.g., citizens) with an organisations’ needs (the requirement and drive to serve end users effectively).
When applied to areas such as sustainable asset management, an improved service that adds value to end-users and internal users directly impacts an organisation’s ability to meet high-level organisational objectives. In this instance, we are very proud to be helping NatureScot to promote the sustainable use of Scotland’s natural heritage.