Strategy #4

Engage New Yorkers in the creation and testing of services.

The best way to create services that work well for New Yorkers is to involve them in deciding what to build and how to build it. Human-centered research, design, and evaluation are powerful tools for creating services that satisfy both residents and front-line service providers.

Here’s how to Test With Residents

Collaborate with community-based organizations and elected officials, including borough presidents, council members, and community boards, to develop and test key services with residents.

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Set up a “pop-up hub” in libraries, public housing, and other community-based organizations to test and refine proposed services with residents.

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Encourage New Yorkers to submit feedback about all digital services, and update New Yorkers when you make significant changes based on their input. Work with the Office of Digital Strategy to develop service-specific guidelines for monitoring and responding to residents’ input.

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Review and respond to New Yorkers’ inquiries on digital channels in a timely way. Set fair expectations by being transparent about next steps. If you can’t answer their question, connect them to @nyc311.

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Create a “Service Design Guidebook and Toolkit” anchored in human-centered design practices to help City service developers design with New Yorkers. Standardize ways to conduct user testing, including defined rules and best practices for engaging appropriate test users.

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Create a design lab to test digital (and non-digital) services safely and transparently. Cultivate a culture that embraces, and even celebrates, iteration and “fails,” as long as the “fails” are low-risk substitution projects, transparent, and lessons learned are recorded and shared.

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Create a service design group to share best practices in research and service delivery, and to workshop design challenges with City staff. This is the perfect place to report back on Design Lab “fails.”

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Support additional capacity and invest in tools that help City staff monitor and respond to residents’ feedback. Use quality control personnel who regularly call services like NYC 311 and Human Resources Administration (HRA) hotlines to evaluate service and offer suggestions to improve it.

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Tell Us Your Idea

We encourage you to submit feedback and tell us what you think as we continue to refine the playbook and share best practices.

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