Simplifying Social Services

"Design is about making things good (and then better) and right (and fantastic) for the people who use and encounter them." Matt Beale

The single subject course Interaction Design at Umeå Institute of Design, with students from the programme Masters of Science Engineering in Interaction and Design at Umeå University had a 5-week project together with the Social Services Department in Umeå.

The task was to design a booking system to give the staff a better general view of all accessible resources and activities. One aim was to make it easier to find a match between a client and a resource, for instance.

Today a joint system where the staff can search for required measures does not exist, and neither does a system for finding a match between a client and a resource. Currently the employees have no means for how to share the great deal of information and knowledge that they have, with their colleagues. This makes it hard for substitutes and for newly employed staff, and a great amount of the staff&s time is used just by calling each other and asking for information.

On Friday, March 25th the Interaction Design students went to the Social Services Department to present their ideas. The groups have acquired inspiration for their designs from today&s web-browsers where you work collaterally with several pages, and also from the way you book trips, accommodation, rental cars and tickets. The students wanted all information to be stored in one place, they wanted the information to be accessible independent of where you are and of the technical conditions. The aim with the various concepts was to decrease physical documents, to render the workflow more effective and to facilitate for substitutes and new employees.

When the presentations were completed the staff from the Social Services Department were very impressed and among other things said: "This feels almost too good to be true. This is exactly what we need!" They were overwhelmed by the possibilities and thought all the concepts were fantastic.

Before the students left, the staff wanted to have a strategic talk about how to proceed, and it was decided that the students are going to present their concepts to some key persons at the Social Services Department and Umeå Municipality.

The Social Services Department in Umeå is available for everyone, and is a municipal responsibility. The Social Services Department has special responsibilities for children and young people, people with alcohol or drug abuse problems, elderly people, people with functional impairments, and people who are taking care of a relative.