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CityX: ideas into action

User-led City Services

The Catapult has experimented to build online consultation products for cities, revealing new market opportunities for gaming and technology companies. Find out about the huge potential to get involved, and improve citizen engagement in the process.


Asking consumers and citizens about the products and services they use is incredibly valuable for the organisations that provide them. It helps them understand what people want and think, and can inform and involve citizens in choices about how products and services are provided.Digital consultations can help to sample how much people are prepared to pay for their utilities and public transport, for example. They can also assess how much disruption citizens are prepared to endure to secure good services in the future.But finding ways of encouraging people to contribute to consultations can be challenging. Most of us are already bombarded with online polls and surveys, so we decided to look at how gaming technology might make taking part in consultations feel more like fun.The results revealed a potential new market for innovative UK companies, and a much more entertaining way for people to give their views and opinions on quite serious issues.

London in 2036

We took one city – London – and developed a game whereby its residents could choose how they would design their city for two decades hence, given the changing demographics and resource constraints. The game was made available for citizens to play at an exhibition about the use of data in the centre of the city.

Exhibitions are just one environment in which cities and service providers can consult and inform their users. Interactive screens, digital street furniture and online and on social media could provide others.

Consultation tools based on games design not only engage people in understanding their services; they can also help to inform policy makers to understand citizens’ priorities.

Could you use a digital tool like this to engage people and inform policies? Get in touch

Water provision

In another experiment, we focused in on the water supply in London and the South East and helped Thames Water to come up with a concept and a user experience prototype for an online customer engagement tool.

The tool seeks to find out how much water users valued continuity of their water supply, the quality of their water and protection from flooding of theirs and others homes.

It has provided Thames Water with valuable data on how much customers would be prepared to sacrifice to secure the things that were important to them and demonstrates the potential of online tools as a means of consultation and information sharing.

Digital consumer consultation tools can help to:

  • Help consumers to understand the challenges faced by providers when balancing service demands, investment decisions and rising bills
  • Educate consumers on the scale and method of services delivered
  • Allow well-informed consumers to provide more informed decisions on future investment
  • Survey consumers in an engaging and fun way
  • Allow greater reach to consumers compared to traditional surveying techniques

Could you benefit from online engagement with your consumers? The Catapult can help to link you with technology developers and others interested in effective, affordable consumer consultation. Contact us

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