IMPROVE, or Involving the community to co-produce public services, is a completed project that was funded by Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme. Through IMPROVE, partners increased the level of innovation in six NPA peripheral regions in the field of technology-driven public service solutions.
IMPROVE became successful thanks to transnational cooperation. The project increased the innovation capacity, knowledge awareness and straightened linkages between all stakeholders that participated in the innovation chain in Donegal (Ireland), Derry and Strabane (Northern Ireland), Borgarbyggð (Iceland), Vestland (Norway), Västernorrland (Sweden) and North Karelia (Finland).
Jose Manuel San Emeterio, Project Manager at ERNACT and ARCTIC PACER Project Leader, also led the IMPROVE project. “The six partner regions had the challenge of how to sustainably deliver quality public services in remote areas overcoming factors like long distances over which services must be delivered, shortage of skilled staff to operate services in many cases, high cost per head of developing and maintaining service and lack of access to the latest solutions due to innovation restrictions”.
While the use of technology in public service provision has been a trend for some years now, its use in combination with a public services co-production model, open innovation and living labs is a new novel approach to public services development for local authorities, communities and their citizens and businesses.
IMPROVE co-production methodology
The IMPROVE methodology provides a framework to guide those organisations that want to involve their communities in the definition and provision of the public services. It presents a 5-step approach and stresses on the importance of empowering intermediary facilitators (called local champions) as key actors in the process. These local champions can include civil servants, community managers, volunteers, social enterprises workers, planners and others depending on the service provided.
“Project partners developed a methodology to guide regions in the process of co-producing new services with their communities in a living lab environment, helping them to co-produce user-centred, inclusive, responsive and transparent services”, adds Jose Manuel. With this methodology, all relevant stakeholders got the opportunity to engage and involve the community, establish an innovative living lab ecosystem, effectively carry out the needed adaptation and organizational change and provide the public services providers with the necessary tools and skills to act as local champions leading the process of co-producing the new services.
Did you know that IMPROVE engaged with almost 100 local champions for the delivery of the services? Find out more!