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The Service Innovation Lab 2017-18 FY Work Program Report

30 June 2018 by Pia Andrews - Service Innovation Lab Lead

The Service Innovation Lab is a venue and capability delivery engine for the Service Innovation Work Programme. The Lab work is overseen by a cross agendy governance group, the Service Innovation Working Group with support from the Service Innovation Reference Group (which enables operational collaboration and leadership. Please also find an accessible mindmap of Lab deliverables and the draft Lab Lean Canvas.

Exec Summary

This is the final report for the 2017-18 financial year. All deliverables were completed as per the summary in this report. The team also explored the unique value proposition of the Service Innovation Lab which will help inform the cross agency governance bodies on what is best done through the Lab. We also explored emerging technologies and trends and their implications for government, we worked to always collaborate and enable greater innovation throughout the public service in the course of our work, and we explored system barriers and opportunities for genuine digital transformation of the NZ public sector. The Service Innovation Lab, working with agencies and partners across New Zealand, has certainly punched above its weight, and provides a good example of how genuine collaboration around shared goals can drive better outcomes for everyone.

In June 2018, the Service Innovation Working Group (SIWG, the SI Lab funding and oversight governance body) approved to increase support for the Service Innovation Work Programme (including work done in and with the Lab) for work program initiatives agreed by the Service Innovation Reference Group (SIRG).

This vote of confidence, especially in the absence of a mandate or requirement for agencies to fund the work program, speaks volumes about the confidence generated in the Service Innovation Lab and work program as a means for agencies to accelerate the design and delivery of better services for the people of New Zealand Aotearoa.

The Service Innovation Lab is a credit to the Service Innovation Reference and Working Groups (our cross agency governance groups), the agency teams & partners who came together with the Lab around life events & proactive entitlements, and the dedicated Service Innovation team who have worked to deliver and support both an environment conducive to genuine collaboration, and a highly skilled workforce to support service innovation.


The SIWG/SIRG endorsed work program deliverables - final report

These were all the SIRG/SIWG agreed deliverables from the 12 months work program with status and links where relevant.

Deliverables from July 2017 to 31 Dec 2017

Initiative Deliverable
Services Register 1.0 (Family Services Directory based reusable component, initially for SmartStart use) Status: Complete. It was clear from early work in the Lab that a services register was a necessary reusable component for integrating information about services across different agencies for users. The first iteration for this reusable compoent was based on the user needs of SmartStart users to identify relevant family services near them. We worked with MSD to make the Family Services Directory fit for purpose for service delivery and available as an openly available API, courtesy of
Links: The FSD reusable component, technical information and the reusable Directory Search Interface.
Entering Tertiary Discovery (TEC) Status: Complete. This was such a broad potential scope that the Discovery turned into a Pre-Discovery to identify specific opportunities for service improvements and delivery for the myriad user needs identified in the process. It was a collaborative process involving the tertiary sector through TEC engagement, and helps inform the TEC work program.
Links: Early blog post on the Pre-Discovery findings, an earlier “Better Choices” Design Sprint which helped inform the Pre-Discovery. The final report is published on the TEC website as a formal publication.
API security model guidance Status: Complete and handed over to Government Enterprise Architecture group at GCDO (DIA). The Lab worked closely with the Government Enterprise Architect group in DIA to engage with API experts across government and the private sector on new guidance for consideration in the New Zealand API Guidance on We tested the API guidance already in place, explored the needs of users, developers and agencies, we considered emerging trends and risks from non human actors (AI, software, machine to machine interactions) and handed the guidance over to GEANZ. We also ran an emerging technology showcase on APIs for service delivery to explore some of the considerations for agencies.
Links: Exploring API Security, Emerging Tech: APIs for service delivery
Rates Rebates Discovery Status: Complete. One of the opportunities identified from early "Becoming a Senior" life journey mapping that could immediately improve many people's interaction with government was a more proactively delivered Rates Rebate entitlement. This is a rates subsidy for low to middle income rate payers and a real pain for end users, for Councils and for Central Government. The Discovery drew on existing research and conducted new user research and a service design led approach to the entitlement both to solve this pain point, but also to explore the pattern of how government makes such entitlements more proactive.
Links: The Rates Rebates Discovery Report, all Rates Rebates blog posts (see Alpha links in the 30 June deliverables list below).
Digital ID transition early prototyping Status: Complete. The Lab team provided early support to the Digital Identity Transition team in exploring user and agency needs, including technical input and wireframing of concepts to test with users.
Link: None, as was not able to be published at the time. Future work will be published.
Service Innovation Toolkit 2.0 Status: Complete and continually improved. The first iteration of the Service Innovation Toolkit included useful guidance about Agile and Service Design methodologies which were included on the WebToolkit (now migrated to We looked at the needs of service design and delivery teams and realised the teams needed 3 fundamental functions: 1) information and guidance (best practice, case studies, links, tools, up to date information on emerging trends, etc); 2) resource sharing (reports, user research, code and asset sharing, common patterns, etc); 3) collaboration (lists of communities of practice, means to collaborate, peer support and engagement). We also identified 4) access to sandpit tools would be greatly helpful to teams to reduce startup costs. We focused the first stage on the information/guidance needs and used a wiki to continually draw together information organically both to support teams, but also to provide a means of collaborating on service innovation. This pre-dated and will be revisited in the next financial year.
Link: The Toolkit 2.0 (information sharing) is at as a temporary collaboration tool.
Service Analytics POC Design (user needs analysis) Status: Complete. Cross channel and possibly cross agency service analytics were identified as a high value evidence base to inform service design and delivery, to measure impact of new, changed or retired digital services, and to understand the user journey across channels and domains. This deliverable was to consult with agencies, learn their user needs around service analytics, design a basic POC and prioritise based on the agency needs.
Link: The problem definition and early user needs report is here (2017), the POC report is here (2018).
Emerging tech workshops (ongoing) Status: Complete and ongoing. We identified a need for service design and delivery teams to keep up with emerging tech and trends. We tried running an “Emerging Tech Showcase” which was heavily oversubscribed so have run these events every month or two, each focused on current tech and trends of interest. We have had over 600 attendees over the past 8 months.
Links: The first Emerging Tech workshop with guests from the US & UK, all additional Emerging Tech showcase events linked here and includes AI, VR/AR/MR, APIs, measurement and other topics.
Victim of Crime Life Event support (continued to 30 June 2018) Status: Complete. This Discovery work was led by Police with support from the Lab. Early discovery led to prototyping ways to better inform victims of support services, but due to complexity of the support services landscape across different entities, this work was pivoted in early 2018. Other options to support victims were explored with the stewardship group deciding to not progress at this stage. This is a good example of ensuring user needs and user value is prioritised over expediency, and all discovery work has been adopted by Police and other entities involved to help inform and improve a range of victim support services.
Link: A final report is being prepared, however some blog posts are available with content about discovery insights and user needs. The work has continued to inform ongoing service design and delivery work across Police and their partners
Public Facing Business Rules for SmartStart related entitlements (entitlements engine/legislation as code reusable component) Status: Complete after rolling over to June 30 deliverables. Another high value user need identified for SmartStart was the ability for people to more easily explore eligibility for services across agencies relevant to having a child. The Lab worked closely with the SmartStart team and their contractor as well as with IRD and MSD to deliver an Alpha “Financial Help” function on SmartStart, an indicative eligibility engine, on the back of a first iteration “legislation as code” reusable component. The rules were codified in a way that can be reused by other life events, and we explored multiple methods for encoding eligibility and calculation rules through APIs as a reusable component. This also inspired the Better Rules discovery sprint in January 2018 with IRD, MBIE, PCO and others.
Links: The Financial Help functionality on SmartStart, the first iteration Eligibility Engine (based on the Australian Regulation as a Platform tool), the second iteration Eligibility Engine (based on OpenFisca, a French Government tool), and finally this work led to doing a cross agency Better Rules Discovery Report which explored legislation as code and codesign of policy/legislation for better public services.
Common Delegations – options for End of Life & make previous work reusable Status: Complete. The earlier “Common/Central Delegations” prototype work conducted by DIA was reviewed and published publicly. It was found to be unfit for a reusable component in the existing state for several reasons: 1) it was too specifically tied to RealMe (an extension), 2) the functionality tried to serve all possible scenarios without actively being applied to any single use case, 3) it was too complex for existing life event requirements, 4) it is a relatively heavy Java application, which doesn’t easily sit alongside more modern web based development languages used by the life events to date, and 5) it was tied to the ForgeRock software stack, making it difficult for any other IAM to integrate. The software and final report were published with some clean up on the Service Innovation Lab github for future considerations, and the End of Life functionality requirements were met by their vendor in a much more lightweight way appropriate to user needs. Next steps is to assess delegations needs as they arise in life events/proactive entitlements work and start with extendable MVP.
Links: Common Delegations Project Closure Report (Datacom), a Central Delegations Service prototype (Datacom), Using Wildfly Swarm Java EE microservice (Datacom).
Consent based information sharing (publish generic data model and build MVP) Status: Complete. The “Consent based information sharing” project and MVP was moved from DIA back to MBIE where it has been rebranded “Business Connect”. The work done whilst at DIA continues to inform work around consent based information sharing when it arises as a functional requirement for life events and proactive entitlements however, we have also started exploring “verifiable claims” as an alternative to sharing personal data where a condition can be confirmed by a authoritative agency, negating the need for sharing or processing (such as a means test from IRD, or confirmation of age eligibility from DIA). We were able to publish the early draft “Generic Data Model” for consideration in our work and other service delivery teams.
Links: The Common Data Model and the AoG Data model is here

Deliverables from January to 30 June 2018

Initiative Deliverable
Life events 1. ‘Entering Tertiary’ Alpha (TEC) - pivoted to Community Sservice Card (CSC) MVP Status: Complete. In consultation with TEC we pivoted to a CSC MVP based on previous user research work. TEC were not ready to proceed to an Alpha as originally planned and so candidates across the SIRG prioritised life events and proactive entitlements were considered by the Lab team as to viability with regards existing resources and research, value to users and prioritisation according to SIRG. We developed a working rough Alpha for Community Services Card (as opposed to a polished Alpha like in Rates Rebates) as a prototype to explore concepts from the earlier Discovery Sprint from Creative HQ and to test with agencies and potentially users, taking into account the pain points identified by relevant agencies in various meetings over the last 12 months. Next steps would be to work with agencies to iterate, test and explore possibilities in this space.
Links: The MVP CSC demonstrator is available here. It is a mobile responsive tool based on the user need that people largely don’t know the value of getting a CSC. The MVP needs to be tested with users, agencies and to be included in a more formal discovery/alpha in collaboration with relevant agencies. The MVP is only a strawman to start discussions.
Life events 2. Renting a Property Discovery (MBIE) Status: Completed. The Renting a Property Pre-Discovery work identified 9 distinct opportunities to improve the experience of tenants and landlords with better quality homes. It led to the design and development work starting to create an Alpha in the 2018-19 financial year. The team produced excellent outputs and the stakeholder engagement has been broad and effective. The team did user research in Auckland, Porirua and Whanganui. One participant from the Housing Commission commented that the 5 weeks work yielded greater insights and research than an entire year of someone preparing a thesis. It is the first life event discovery where we have explicitly tried to also map against the Intergenerational Wellness Framework which may be of interest to other agencies. The opportunities identified and concepts tested with end users (tenants, landlords, advocates and more) form a strong basis for moving into at least one Alpha in the next financial year.
Links: links to come.
Life events 3. Moving to NZ Discovery (INZ) - pivoted to Citizenship Status: Completed. The Lab ran a scoping session for INZ that resulted in internal initiatives being linked up around life event for INZ to focus on but they did not wish to proceed to a Discovery at that stage. The Discovery resourcing was then pivoted to Citizenship given the close relationship to the life event. The Citizenship team had already done a lot of process mapping and solution identification when they started with the Lab, The Discovery resourcing was used to focus on user journey research, pain points for agencies, and testing/validation of a solution proposed by DIA Citizenship service team. Alternative future modes of service delivery were also explored. Options for an Alpha were explored in preparation for the new financial year and an Alpha is planned for the new financial year.
Links: No links, work is sitting with DIA Citizenship team.
Life events 4. One other Pre-discovery and/or Discovery for a life event Status: Completed. The Lab team had a few candidates for this work and are finalising some scoping and pre-discovery work for both the proactive entitlement of immunisations with the Ministry of Health, as well as the proactive sharing of high risk offenders information from Corrections for staff safety across agencies. The more promising of the two will proceed to a full Discovery or Alpha (depending on availability of pre-existing user research and other planning) in the new financial year.
Links: Reports are sitting with relevant departments for consideration of next steps.
Proactive Entitlements 1. Rates Rebate Alpha. Status: Completed. The Rates Rebates Discovery led to a collaborative Alpha pilot with Tauranga City Council, with some interest, contributions and participation from Auckland, Wellington and other Councils. The first round of Alpha testing was well received by users with an up front eligibility test prior to applying, and then a streamlined application process which is almost entirely digital, as enabled by new legal advice regarding digital signatures from the Contract and Commercial Law Act 2017. The Alpha was extended to test with a larger group of users till 30 September. Full Alpha Report to be published shortly thereafter.
Links: Alpha Report to come, the Rates Rebates Alpha is available online here (until 30 Sept), all blog posts with previous research available here, and a blog about overcoming legislative barriers and our use of a digital signature is here.
Proactive Entitlements 2. Support/Scoping for School and Startup Payments, Health entitlements and Paid Parental Leave Status: Complete. The SmartStart team have largely looked into this through their work, and the Lab team have provided some support, particularly around business rules of PPL, Best Start and other relevant entitlements. The Lab will have completed a some initial work on Immunisations which also feeds into this deliverable.
Links: No relevant links, mostly a supporting role for this deliverable.
Common components 1. Services Register extension Status: Complete. The first iteration of the Services Register done in 2017-18 Q2 provided the necessary functionality for the SmartStart “Services Near Me”. The extension work completed in Q3-4 included the development of a generic search interface as a reusable component, with first use cases including and MSD mobile app,, Citizen Advice Bureau and Community Services Card. There was also some preliminary work looking at SuperGold Card as a next extension and identification of other service registers which could be included such as the HealthDirect catalogue. The generic search interface has been repurposed for two other initiatives thus far, namely a CSC rough alpha and Red Hat have taken it to use. are considering implementation of the search function for public use, and MSD are considering SuperGold as a next candidate for making the data available as a reusable component.
Links: Family Services Directory Mobile demonstrator
Emerging tech workshops (ongoing) Status: Complete and ongoing. We identified a need for service design and delivery teams to keep up with emerging tech and trends. We tried running an “Emerging Tech Showcase” which was heavily oversubscribed so have run these events every month or two, each focused on current tech and trends of interest. We have had over 600 attendees over the past 8 months.
Links: The first Emerging Tech workshop with guests from the US & UK, all additional Emerging Tech showcase events linked here and includes AI, VR/AR/MR, APIs, measurement and other topics.
Common components 2. Entitlement Rules/Legislation as Code reusable component Status: Complete to a functional MVP/Alpha phase. The entitlement rules required for a “Financial Help” function on SmartStart as well as eligibility for relevant services on any life event was completed with 18 initial entitlements and tax credits from MSD and IRD, with strong collaboration from both agency and approval on the approach, so long as it was caveated as an indicative eligibility engine, not authoritative or specific in terms of exact calculation. This was done and has been very successful. The initial rules engine was replaced by OpenFisca, A French Government tool for financial benefits and taxation eligibility, calculation and obligations modelling, and Best Start was also added along with updated for the 1st July changes that needed to be incorporated into SmartStart (with strong collaboration between the Lab, the SmartStart team and their vendor). The idea of computational rules of government led to the short 3 week Better Rules Discovery Sprint, a collaboration between IRD, MBIE, PCO, the Lab and an independent developer, which has been lauded as world leading and the basis for further work in New Zealand and with the D7. The rules engine was also used in a Hackathon for TechWeek with teams from private and public sectors participating in an exploration of legislation as code with results available at
Links: Financial Help on SmartStart, the 3 week Better Rules Discovery Sprint, and documentation about the reusable component.
Common components 3. Streamlined application or notifications service Status: Complete. The Rates Rebates Alpha is a streamlined application service, built to be reusable for other application services. The team will be also further exploring notifications with upcoming life events.
Links: The Rates Rebates Alpha is live till end of September and code available on github here.
Common components 4. Common delegations or notifications service Status: Complete. See notes on Common Delegations from 31 December list above. Links: Common Delegations Project Closure Report (Datacom), a Central Delegations Service prototype (Datacom), and Using Wildfly Swarm Java EE microservice (Datacom).
Reusable Components 5. Reusable code created from SmartStart Status: Complete. Previous SmartStart components were open sourced including a RealMe integration component and various reusable parts of the platform, some of which were reused in other Alpha work above making for faster more efficient development, ready for for reuse by other agencies and life events.
Links: SmartStart has a frontend in reactjs, and a backend in django hosted on Catalyst’s cloud. There is also a Django app for integrating the RealMe authentication service. It was used for the SmartStart integrated services and is likely to be useful to many people integrating with Realme. There is also an analysis of SmartStart as a federated service. With thanks to Catalyst IT.
Additional: Service Analytics POC - moving from design into a working Proof of Concept Status: Complete. A small POC to explore the viability of integrating service analytics across channels was explored in DIA (given the ready access to analytics data) using Citizenship and Marriage as two examples of life events for the purpose of exploration. The POC went well and the final report with screenshots and details is linked below. The results were very promising.
Links: The problem definition and early user needs report is here (2017), the POC report is here (2018).

Additional accomplishments

Above and beyond the work delivered above, the Lab has had the following highlights and accomplishments.

  • The Lab has been visited by subsequent Ministers of different governments in the 12 months of operation, demonstrating a high level of political interest and support of the work. Minister Clare Curran has explicitly named the Service Innovation Lab as her favourite example of GovTech in New Zealand.
  • We hosted two booths at the D7 Showcase Event at the Beehive, one about life event services, and one with a 50 year future vision “optimistic future” presented in a virtual reality experience for the Minister & various senior officials from New Zealand and around the world. This was followed by a showcase at MBIE with two stands which were well populated by over 350 attendees.
  • Tauranga City Council wrote to the DCE for Local Government at DIA, Ms Helen Wynn, praising the Rates Rebates work by the Lab and asking whether DIA will make it a national service. Auckland, Wellington, Ashburton and other Councils are also keen to get involved, and the relationships and trust built up now provide much greater opportunity for productive collaboration with Councils across the country.
  • The Lab team facilitated a “National Age Friendly Communities” workshop for the Office of Seniors (MSD), generating ten agreed opportunities to improve the lives of senior citizens in New Zealand, and generation greater interest to work on the life event in the Lab.
  • The “Better Rules” work done in collaboration with IRD, MBIE, PCO and a private sector company to explore the digital transformation of legislation and policy (including machine readable legislation as code) has generated extraordinary interest and support across the New Zealand Government, Councils, the Digital 7 nations, Law Foundation, World Bank and many others. It led to the development of a Legislation as Code reusable component in the Lab (currently being used for three life event services and Alphas). The work is widely considered world leading and a significant opportunity for true digital transformation. The MBIE Better for Business team want to co-lead some work with the Lab around the opportunities, including the establishment of an informal cross sector user group to support and share insights across the research, policy/legislative and implementation work streams being driven by different entities across New Zealand, and a cross jurisdiction demonstrator is considered a priority by the D7 to explore how legislation/rules as code could improve international user experiences.
  • The team have taken steps to apply the Intergenerational Wellness Framework as well as a Māori values framework over the top of work done in and with the Lab, to ensure an alignment with greater social and economic outcomes for New Zealand.
  • The D7 Operational Thematic Group has met every month since February to discuss topics ranging from reusable components, getting value from data, emerging technologies, proactive services, open source. Where topics crossed over into other thematic groups, they were handed over (life events and health in particular). Legislation as code has been a topic of particular interest, including a request to do a short prototype of legislation as code in collaboration with other D7 members to demonstrate in November at the next D7 Summit.
  • New digs! The Lab team moved venues twice in 6 months, and did not lose much productivity due to largely working on cloud based tools and to being quite agile and resilient in our work and culture.
  • The SI Lab team contributed to various papers and reports including the AI Forum Report, various open, digital and inclusion government papers and blueprints, international research on innovation and digital government, and was invited to present to Canada, Australia, Singapore, Philippines, Estonia and Taiwan amongst other countries to share and learn.
  • Upon realising the critical role the Citizen Advice Bureau play for service delivery to over 400,000 New Zealanders each year, the Lab worked with CAB to explore their user needs (anonymously of course, to protect client confidentiality). This provided a better understanding of the need to include trusted third parties in the channel strategy for government services and digital transformation.
  • The concept of reusable components was proven through the delivery of functionality for SmartStart and the Rates Rebates Alpha. Financial Help (SmartStart) was based on the entitlements engine (legislation as code) which was also used for the Rates Rebates Alpha. Services near Me (SmartStart) was based on the services register (Family Services Directory made API enabled) which was also used for the Community Services Card demonstrator. Both reusable components are also being used by non government organisations for testing and the SmartStart infrastructure has also been open sourced for reuse.

Below are a series of events run by or with the Lab team:

  • We run monthly Emerging Tech workshops/showcases to help agencies keep abreast of new developments:
    • The first event explored emerging tech and social trends, with special guests from the US Government Services Agency Emerging Tech lead, Justin Herman as well as Dr Rebecca Rumbul from MySociety
    • Measurement in government and service delivery, we had 60 people RSVP.
    • VR and AR (mixed reality technologies), we had 100 people RSVP.
    • APIs for service delivery, we had 70 people RSVP.
    • AI and what feeds it had 100 people RSVP.
  • The Lab ran two Legislative Barriers for Service Delivery workshops resulting in a report that is being championed by the PCO.
  • We supported a Better Rules Hack which tested the concept of legislation as code with the community, with public servants also coming to learn and develop skills in this space (40 people attended Wellington and 40 in Tauranga)
  • The Lab team supported an Optimistic Futures event with InternetNZ and Victoria University exploring 50 year futures across 10 sectors and domains, and followed it up with a “Transitioning to an Optimistic Future” workshop in Techweek to explore how to get there, along with other TechWeek 2018 events.
  • We facilitated and supported a Digital Service Standard Workshop focused on integration of a Māori worldview
  • We ran a Rapid Prototyping for Virtual Reality workshop for industry and community, leading to a pipeline of opportunities around applying VR/AR and game design methods to service design and delivery in government.

Report close

The Lab has had a good year moving through startup phase to a small scale operational team that can support agencies in the design and development of better public services. An exceptional and highly skilled team has been established around the key goal of improving government services for New Zealanders, enabling systemic transformation of the public sector through collaboration and the application of design and development best practices with a whole of system, user journey and life event based lens. The team have operated under great uncertainty but have delivered above and beyond expectations to prove the value of such a cross agency function as an enabler of genuine service innovation.

In June 2018 the Service Innovation Working Group (SIWG, the DCE level governance group) approved a $5.79m budget bid for the Service Innovation work program (including $2m for SmartStart and End of Life services), which would enable an acceleration of the life event based services development in the ambitious work program, which was also signed off by SIWG.

Q1 2018 (July - Sept) will see the delivery of more design and delivery work, though it must be noted that the Service Innovation Lab team were unable to access the funding to expand capacity for accelerated delivery until August 2018, thus starting the 2018-19 financial year a little slowly. The gap between approvals and access to funding is a critical risk to progress on the agenda and must be minimised for future years.

The work and the way of working (openly) generates a continuous pipeline of opportunities which will be presented to SIRG each meeting for discussion and prioritisation, where the opportunities align with and complement the work program as agreed.

As a final word, I want to thank Karl, Darryl and the SIRG and SIWG participants for all their leadership and support. Thank you to all the agencies and Council staff who have worked so collaboratively with an open heart and mind. Thank you to all the companies, organisations & specialists who have shared in the journey, we look forward to working more with industry and non profit partners! A big thank you to the broader Service Innovation team who have provided support, secretariat, expertise and all the work needed to protect an innovation lab from the machinations of government :)

Finally, my greatest thanks to all the special, talented, passionate and committed members of the Service Innovation Lab team. You are all exceptional in the work you do and your contributions have made a difference far beyond the scope of what any of us could have imagined. I look forward to seeing our efforts continue to transform, challenge, enable, empower and influence the system around us to truly be what our communities need.

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