Our Perspectives

Loud and clear: Rethinking service design in Georgia


woman at a workshop in GeorgiaPeople living with speech or hearing impairments now have more options to contact the emergency hotline. Photo: David Khizanishvili, UNDP Georgia.

On the heels of SHIFT, UNDP's Week of Innovation Action, we tried to answer some basic questions: Why do we need it all? Why should we do innovation work in development?

We got our answers after a design thinking session with the national emergency hotline in Georgia. 

112 is one of the most dialled phone numbers in Georgia. In 2013 alone, they received over 8 million calls. Their website lists emergency services available for children, with a video tour, and frequently asked questions for those who may need immediate help.

They provide everything for everyone – except for those who cannot hear or speak.  This is because 112 is only reachable through a voice call. Those living with speech or hearing impairments simply don’t have options.

To change this, 112 teamed up with our office in Georgia and the Swedish Government  to prepare a new service design – one that would be truly universal.

Earlier this year, the 112 team travelled to Ireland to examine how new technology can make emergency services more accessible for the hearing and speech impaired.

This was followed by a three-day design thinking workshop that brought together people with disabilities, tech specialists and civil society organizations.

The participants conducted a step-by-step simulation exercise of an emergency situation starting from the initial call to the service delivery, in order to re-think the current system and improve their experience. Most importantly, the service was redesigned together with people who need it most, putting their views and concerns at the heart of new solutions. 

So innovation in development is not just innovating for the sake of it. But it does the job where traditional solutions fail. People who think differently can find fresh solutions to persistent issues, hard to tackle otherwise. And once we make this new vision a part of our work, we will make development work for all.

Talk to us: Are there any other ways we could make basic services more inclusive for everyone?

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