Our Perspectives


Moldova’s innovation hub: Changing the way we police

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People and police working with a board during the workshop. Police officers and community members discuss the design of the new space. Photo: UNDP in Moldova.

In June this year we launched our Innovation Facility  with generous support from the Government of Denmark. The initiatives we fund involve end users as designers of solutions which are put directly to the test in various countries across the world.

For example, in Chișinău, Moldova’s capital, the renovation of a dilapidated Soviet-era police station was done differently - involving the community throughout the process.

Our office in Moldova, partnering with the municipal police, FutureGov  and Studio TILT, quickly realized that changing the dynamics of a space involved more than just constructing a room and moving around some furniture. They considered questions such as:

  • Can we create a space that makes the police more efficient, accessible, and trustworthy?
  • What about the community? Can we make them feel happier, helpful, and more secure?

Here’s how they did it

Day 1:  Understanding the needs

The first day was critical to change the police officers’ perception. We spent it learning about their daily issues, observing the constraints of the physical environment, and looking for possibilities for improvement.

Day 2: Bringing in the community members

We went to local markets and the police station to get the citizens’ point of view:  their perceptions of the police and how a stronger bond could be forged. They spoke of their need to trust and know their police officers in order to appeal for their help when necessary.

Day 3:  Preparing a prototype

Police officers and NGO representatives participated in our workshop to rethink not only the design of station itself, but the way they interact in that space. Based on their insights, a prototype of a better community police station was built and prepared for testing. It included tools for easy communication like information boards and clear, user-friendly signs.

Day 4: Testing the prototype

We collected valuable feedback, including the need for privacy when discussing delicate matters in an open space and the importance of having an officer-on-duty at the reception of the police station.

Day 5: Discussing the results

By the end of the week, we had moved the conversation from 'I don’t have' to 'I can' and agreed on cheap and simple solutions such as installing free public WIFI at the police station, installing an information board with useful info for citizens, and providing an inviting reception area with an on-duty officer.

Most importantly, we learned that involving the community is a challenge in itself and that there is a need to educate and engage people in changing public services and institutions.  But the payoff is more than the refurbishment of a station, it will also overhaul the way police communicates with the community.

We’d love to hear from you: Are there other ways to redesign and opening up these types of spaces?

A longer version of this blog was posted previously on Voices of Eurasia – you can read it here.

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