A pioneering application of Service Design to security related operations in the UN.
The opportunities for service design are limitless; there is the potential to make an impact on any service that exists or is being imagined, from an online banking service, to transport, to health services, to security matters for the United Nations…
live|work is proud to announce that it has been invited back to Geneva to collaborate further with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR) to design better community security services for humanitarian and development organisations.
In the decade after the Cold War ended, disarmament research expanded its focus from weapons of mass destruction, satellites, missiles and other international security threats to address widespread and common challenges like land mines, small arms and cluster munitions. Today, the global security agenda has expanded further to include other pressing security concerns that are not only linked to weapons but are focused on social challenges, such as child soldiers, forced labour, human trafficking and organized crime.
In response to this, UNIDIR’s Security Needs Assessment Protocol project is developing a “programme design service”. The service will provide critical, and ethnographically informed security knowledge to the UN and other organisations that are working to rebuild post-conflict societies, or assist with development and humanitarian activities around the world.
The purpose of SNAP’s innovative service is to facilitate the creation and application of local knowledge. Knowledge and an understanding of security issues, from the point of view of the communities themselves, can inform the kinds of actions the UN can take to improve matters. This is a completely new way for the UN and NGO communities to think and represents a real culture change. Until now the UN and NGO’s have never taken a service design approach to their work or used cultural research as a basis for security programming.
How are the security problems understood? what are the real dangers? What are the myths? How do the communities deal with these security risks? What protocol do development and humanitarian organisations need to understand before they can work in different parts of the world?
SNAP works with international, national, and local researchers in a rigorous and highly collaborative ethnographic research process as its primary investigative technique. This approach allows them to generate relevant, reliable cultural data in a relatively short period of time. This local knowledge is then used as the basis for the design of services. live|work’s collaboration with SNAP in the pioneering application of service design to security-related operations, has meant that knowledge is brought directly to the decision makers, for greatest impact.
Shifting the focus from the implementation of top-down policy instructions to bottom-up “user focused” service design requires a fundamental, and often radical re-imaging of the UN’s work at the community level.
Doing this has required the SNAP team to be rigorous and their work to be compelling for each government, UN agencies and NGOs around the world. The SNAP team at UNIDIR saw the need to design their service with professional guidance from “design thinkers” to make it valuable. Since they hadn’t applied a design approach to their service development before, they asked live|work – as the recognised leader in the field – to be involved.
live|work is supporting the SNAP team on two levels:
Firstly by working with SNAP to define their service concept and offering to make it both appealing and valuable to the UN and NGOs. Secondly, by partnering with SNAP to collaborate with colleagues and clients in the development and humanitarian assistance communities to design the actual operations.
In the first phase we mapped out the SNAP service customer journey, and blueprinted their delivery to client organisations. The next phase, scheduled for the autumn, will develop the service offering in more detail.
We’re very excited about working with UNIDIR and the SNAP team, pioneering a new way of thinking and planting the flag for Service Design in the UN. On an idealistic level it also means that live|work lives up to our ambition of applying design to areas that really have an impact on people’s lives.
SNAP is currently in a pilot phase running the service in Nepal with UNICEF. In 2010 it will collaborate with the International Organization for Migration.
For further information about the project, please contact Lavrans Løvlie at livework, or Dr. Derek B. Miller, Senior Researcher and Project Manager at SNAP.