SPIDER (Supporting Public Service Innovation using Design in European Regions) was an EU funded project which aimed to deliver innovative solutions to Europe’s toughest social challenges by engaging public services and citizens in an ambitious programme of service design projects and by putting citizens at the heart of the development process using service design.
Public services face complex challenges such as high unemployment, an ageing population and higher expectations from citizens. At the same time budgets are being cut across Europe as public services feel the full force of the recession. The SPIDER project used service design to demonstrate, through a series of projects, how design can deliver tangible solutions to address many of these issues.
Service design is above all a problem-solving process that places the user at the centre of the methodology. By engaging both service users and service providers in developing and testing solutions, the new services are citizen-focused, desirable to use and inclusive. They are also cost effective for public authorities because the solutions correspond to user needs so avoid costly changes following failed implementation. Service design is well established in the private sector however it has never been deployed by public services on a pan-European scale such as this.
The SPIDER Project used service design to create opportunities and improve services. Through pilots, SPIDER demonstrated how service design can be translated into cost savings and efficiencies in the public sector. Then, through large scale training and awareness raising, SPIDER hoped to change the mindset of public authorities in their approach to understanding the needs of service users.