Citizens first: public sector service design in action.

Is digital better?

Gateshead council wanted to understand how a digital solution for taxi licensing could enhance public safety, improve the end-user experience and reduce costs.

They also wanted to explore how a standardized digital solution could scale regionally and nationally, so they collaborated with Sunderland and Northumberland Councils in a project funded by MHCLG's local digital fund.


Delivering a multi-partner discovery project

Orange Bus delivered a 10-week agile discovery project. We used multiple research methods to gain a clear picture of the current taxi licensing process, and then created a clear blueprint and business case for a set of user-centred service improvements. Activities included:

  • Shadowing staff from participating councils to understand and see first-hand how taxi license applications are processed.
  • Interviews with taxi operators and drivers to understand their motivators, attitudes and barriers with the application process.
  • Collaborative design and service scope workshops with the participating councils.
  • Business case creation for a follow-on discovery exercise, to provide specific direction for an alpha project.
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    Did it work?

    Yes! We clearly answered the question of whether there was a need for a digitised service, and provided a clear business case for next steps.

    taxi licensing case study imagery

    The project helped all councils understand opportunities for service improvement within their own services, and also identified the potential for standardisation across councils.

    taxi licensing case study imagery

    This project also stood apart due to its collaborative nature. Regular ‘show and tell’ events ensured that key findings were shared with all parties, and enabled everyone to have an immersive learning experience in service design and agile project delivery.

    taxi licensing case study imagery

    The next step is a follow-on discovery phase, specifically to explore the new driver application process and address the feasibility of digitising the service. The councils would then be ready to experiment with standardising the service on a small scale.

    "This project has been an excellent upskilling opportunity for Gateshead Council. We have gained hands-on experience of agile service design and techniques. The team members have learnt far more from working with Orange Bus on a live project than could ever have been achieved from a traditional training course. The project has been delivered at considerable pace but we always felt included and informed through the delivery of workshops, 'show and tell' sessions and other other agile tools."
    Roger Abbott

    Digital Services Manager, Gateshead Council

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