Yesterday, Matt wrote about a research project we carried out into ways automated decisions made by public services could be made more legible. The themes explored in this work, however, are not just relevant for public services.
In our first year we helped the Co-op prototype services that give members control of data, investigated what the GDPR could mean for services we use, prototyped new consumer technology and more. We’re well into our second year now. We’re a bigger team than ever before and we’re working on bigger projects. So we’re hiring for two new positions at IF, a developer and a delivery manager.
I saw this Tweet over the weekend, and it struck a chord with me. It’s something I’m very familiar from at IF: someone losing access to a service because they didn’t download their backup codes for 2FA. I don’t blame them — it’s often not clear that you need to download your backup codes. Setting up 2FA can be a technical exercise and backup codes are the last part of that process, easy to miss.
There are a lot of good points in the Government Transformation Strategy on the subject of data and trust:
As Georgina wrote finding out how technology can improve care for people in end of life care is a complicated area. It brings together lots of different people and parts of the health service. So the improving care project wasn’t about trying to find solutions. It was about uncovering the user needs of patients, carers and clinicians for healthcare data and finding out what should happen to meet those needs. A large part of my time was spent finding the security, privacy and consent implications of better access to healthcare data.
A few weeks ago I was invited by the Scrutiny Unit of Parliament to give evidence on Part 5 of the Digital Economy Bill, a section that addresses digital government. Yesterday afternoon I gave my evidence to the Committee. You can watch the video on parliament.tv, it’s at 15:50. I wanted to publish some of the notes I took in to the session, partly because it’s good to be transparent, and partly because there wasn’t really the time to unpick the implications of some of this in the time we had.
As we were working on The Log, a design probe from our project on the future of consumer advocacy, I kept coming back to Nick Foster’s talk on The Future Mundane. It’s a talk about industrial design futures and how not to do them. There are a few things from the talk that particularly stick out to me, so I thought I’d write about how they influenced what we made.
As part of our work investigating the future of consumer advocacy, Ian, Georgina and I built a design probe to look at how the things a person owns could communicate change. We’ve called it The Log, and it shows one way we might make it easier to see how the connected devices in our homes are working.
We’ve adjusted our behaviour to incorporate the network. We carry phones with us all the time. We have them in their hands, or near them, all the time. People use them on the toilet. New social conventions form around them. And we often feel quite insecure if we don’t have them. The network has become a transitional object. What are the implications of that network being part of more things?
‘Design with data’ is a pretty compelling principle. But we also need to design for data. The relationship between our models for data storage and access are inextricably linked to the services themselves: the database designs the service, the service designs the database. When designing services, we need to understand the material we’re working with to design the right thing.
Today is World Consumer Rights Day, which marks the day John F. Kennedy gave a speech in 1962 to the United States Congress that led to the first consumer rights. So, I thought it was a timely moment to write about a project we’re starting on the future of consumer advocacy.
We make things that change how people think about data, privacy and security. Projects by IF works on big challenging issues. Often, they begin as very small challenging issues. As the Internet becomes increasingly embedded within our daily lives, it is encountering design questions that lie deep in our cultural DNA; privacy, security, trust, transparency, ownership, citizenship.