Friday, 16 September 2016

93. Design government and democracy around citizens not services

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OK, so this is the pitch I am thinking about for govcampcymru. It's taking place on the 24 September in Cardiff.

What might government and democracy in Wales look like if we designed around what people need as citizens rather than what they need as service users?

There is a big reform agenda around local government in Wales at the moment.  One map has been scrapped and we wait to see what the next proposal will be.

The driving force for change is efficiency and reductions in funding for public services - but I'm wondering what if we designed democracy and government institutions around the needs of citizens rather than services?

Would things be very different? Or not?

Do we actually have a clear idea of what citizens actually need? Do we have ways of finding out? Have we ever really tried?

As I have argued before, designing for citizens if different to designing for customers.  Citizens are users sure, but they use 'democracy services' (elections, consultations, representatives etc etc) and have rights rather than customer needs.

It's also quite hard to think about this without thinking about the 'solutions' that already exist such as local councils, elections and MPs.

So, how should we capture citizen needs? How should we find out what they are?

In my session I want to start with the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It includes three rights particularly relevant to citizenship:

  • Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers. (Article 19)
  • Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. (Article 20.1)
  • Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives. (Article 21.1)

This leads to three questions we can ask about what government for citizens in Wales might look like:

What do citizens need so they can share their opinions with other people?

What do citizens need so they can work with other people to bring about change?

What do citizens need so they can take part in decision making?

And those are the questions I'm planning to ask.

Make sense?

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