Ontario Partners With Communitech To Open Digital Design Lab

Completing any kind of task that involves navigating through the government’s online presence can be tiresome and clumsy at times, leading to frustration and unnecessary keyboard-smacking. Hopefully, things are about to change.

The province of Ontario is launching a new digital design lab at Communitech, a Waterloo-based innovation hub. The initiative is called the Ontario Digital Service (ODS) lab, and its sole focus is to help make Ontarians’ online experience of government simpler, faster and better overall. Using digital technology to help everyday citizens interact and engage with their government is part of the province’s plan to create jobs and grow the economy.

“This government is committed to making Ontarians’ lives easier,” says Deb Matthews, minister of advanced education and skills development. “We need to transform the way we think about government services, design, and delivery. I’m confident that the creativity and collaboration coming out of the lab will propel digital government forward and improve the lives of Ontarians.”

The ODS lab is the first of its kind for the provincial government. The team will conduct research to inform design choices and improve the delivery of online government services and products. Workers have backgrounds in design, citizen interaction and user research, and they will be joined by rotating cohorts of co-op students from post-secondary institutions.

The lab is also unique in the sense that it is completely female, supporting efforts and encouraging initiatives to foster more women in the tech industry.

“The Ontario Digital Service is proud to be among the first government teams to sit alongside an innovation community that supports human-centered design,” says Hillary Hartley, deputy minister, and the province’s first digital officer. “Our inaugural all-female lab team are true pioneers, setting new standards for online design that will accelerate digital transformation in government.”

The ODS lab will reside among the Communitech community, a globally recognized group of over 1000 startups from small to large, along with international companies focusing on innovation and digital adoption within their organizations.