You don’t have to roam the halls of the Centennial Building for too long before finding someone that will wax romantic about the introduction of Service New Brunswick back in the 1990s. You will be told that at the time SNB was among the most innovative public service delivery models in the world. It’s single customer service window for a myriad of public services and its use of IT to bring it all together was the stuff of legend.
Of course there is some exaggeration in this but the fundamental idea of a single window for drivers’ licenses, permits, bill paying, etc. was very convenient to the public and the idea was picked up broadly in other jurisdictions.
Since then, there really hasn’t been a Service NB 2.0 or 3.0 and so on. Sure, the system is better now – there are more online features, etc. but certainly no breakthroughs.
I thought about SNB while reading this article on the application of design principles to public service delivery. Imagine if the same people that designed Apple’s mouse put their heads around designing public service delivery.
The firm at the heart of the article, IDEO, doesn’t seem to have a Canadian presence which is a little strange given that Canada has some very interesting design challenges such as serving large immigrant populations.
Maybe we could attract this firm or another to set up in New Brunswick. Maybe we could tie it into a university-based research institute in this area. I know NB is not exactly a hub for design concepts but it’s alright to dream once in a while.
I continue to think we have a very narrow view of economic development – both our government and our industry leaders. I love the quote from Frank McKenna “It’s been too easy to cut trees, catch fish and plow land in this province. We’ve never had to think. Now it’s time to be creative.”
The problem is that McKenna made that statement nearly 20 years ago in 1994.