10 Inspiring Public Sector Organizations to Watch in 2020
Award-winning government agencies that use inspirational and engaging design to enhance online and digital experiences.
by Jonathan Benett
posted on 11-20-2019
The importance of using inspirational and engaging design to enhance a person’s online and digital experience is being recognized and embraced by public sector organizations all across the globe. By leveraging technology that helps to unleash innovative ideas, these organizations are building deeper connections with their customers and greatly improving awareness of their programs and public services.
Below are 10 inspiring public sector organizations we see leading the way in using creativity, design, and technology in impactful ways to deliver their mission more effectively and efficiently.
The selected mix of projects shown are from public sector organizations* that aren’t afraid to take leaps, go deeper, and become pioneers of digital transformation in the government space.
NASA Valentines: “We Love You to the Moon and Back”
2019 AGCA Winner
Want to make your nerdy, science-loving valentine smile?
Send them a Space Valentine!
NASA Goddard’s team was on a mission to share “lovable” and digestible nuggets of information about space—and to do so in a fun, playful way for the general public.
They came up with the idea of animated valentine messages using pictures and illustrations inspired by space.
Behind the making of the valentines (that can operate as animated GIFs to send to loved ones), there is also a team of 12 creatives who brainstormed sayings, storyboarded, and designed the series of all the Space Valentines.
“As a science agency, our goal is to share our research with the world… while inspiring new generations of science innovators.”
See how they did it — and get free Space Valentines for yourself!
2. 10 Million patents
The United States Patent and Trademark Office
2019 AGCA Honorable Mention
In 1790, the first patent was signed by President George Washington.
In 2018, the 10,000,000th patent was issued.
More than just a number, “Patent 10 Million” symbolizes the strength and history of America’s intellectual property system.
To punctuate the event in history, a new patent cover design was unveiled at the 2018 South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive Festival in Austin, Texas.
A surround-sound public awareness campaign was also organized—including major events in the D.C. area, educational scavenger hunts around museums, and decals of historical patents (i.e. an invention used in the race to the moon) placed on the sidewalks around the USPTO headquarters in Virginia.
3. Animation of Light at the Edge of a Black Hole
National Science Foundation
2019 AGCA Honorable Mention
When the first-ever picture of a black hole was taken, the world saw what was believed to be “unseeable.”
“Those that get too close get pulled in, never to escape.”
The monster black hole—located 55 million light years from Earth—continues to be a mystery.
The National Science Foundation created an animation to show what you would see if you could fly by the supermassive black hole in galaxy Messier 87.
Using real data, the animation depicts what happens to light at the edge of a black hole, the event horizon.
4. Working together to aid hunger
Feeding Northeast Florida
2019 AGCA Category Winner
The issue of hunger is often overlooked in America, or seen as a third-world problem.
But in reality—one in four children in Jacksonville, Florida struggles with hunger.
Local awareness of this issue was lacking. So the team at Brunet-Garcia Advertising partnered with Feeding Northeast Florida to raise awareness as part of a large-scale pro-bono project called 100 Plates.
A public art and interactive exhibit were created, bringing the story of their struggling neighbors to life.
The experience spared no detail—with a floor-to-ceiling sculpture of 100 hanging plates, and interactive displays to guide guests in a self-learning experience through a light, easy-to-use iPad donation station.
For just $1, you can feed 10 meals for a family in need. Or for $10, donate 100 plates.
“We wanted to design a campaign that defied expectations… The exhibition transported viewers to an environment where they were forced to make the tough choices many in our community face.” — Brunet-Garcia Advertising
Watch the video and learn more about the winning project.
5. For the Love of Baseball (and America)
Library of Congress
2019 AGCA Category Winner
“I think there are only three things America will be known for 2,000 years from now . . . the Constitution, jazz music, and baseball.” — Gerald Early, writer
Baseball wasn’t always called “baseball.”
In the early days of whittled bats and woolen balls—and putting out baserunners by striking them with a ball—it was called “town ball”, “round ball”, or “Base-Ball.”
By the 1800s, the rules were set—and the first official games took place in America.
To pay respect to the history and evolution of the game of baseball, the Library of Congress created Baseball Americana, an exhibit in Washington D.C., and an award-winning promotional video.
6. Tangled Up! Recycling PSA
Baltimore County Department of Public Works
“Is this recyclable?”
It’s a common question people ask—before guess-tossing their garbage into one of the receptables.
But what happens if they shoot in the wrong hoop? 🙂
The Baltimore County Department of Public Works came up with a brilliant way to educate the public on what happens behind-the-scenes in recycling—particularly when a “tangler” gets through and disrupts operations.
A short video was produced in-house by 11 county employees (core crew of four) with an impressing low production cost: $2,247 for staff time, $61 for props.
The actors in the video are Bureau of Solid Waste Management employees—and the man who plays the MRF worker is actually one of the men who cuts tanglers out of the equipment daily.
The video has already won several international awards—and is certainly worth 1.5 minutes of your time. See the video and you’ll never throw a tangler in a recycling bag again.
7. Growing and Connecting the City of Guelph
The City of Guelph (Ontario, Canada)
The passion behind the team at The City of Guelph in Canada is infectious.
Out-of-the-box thinking is their specialty—from co-creating a community plan with over 10,000 people, to connecting citizens with a video of spontaneous clips of the people of Guelph telling the story of their city in their own words.
Even presenting the co-created plan to the Mayor was done in poetry by a local spoken word artist, resulting in a standing ovation. (The plan was unanimously supported by the City Council).
How did they do it?
“We gave up control of the conversation and invited people to hold their own conversations. We created a conversation starter kit and card game called Cards for Community,” they said.
For the video, “We didn’t have much time or money to invest in production or promotion, so we focused on creating something people wouldn’t expect to see from their local government. Something fun, even a little silly.”
Learn more about The City of Guelph.
8. Contracting Subway Map
Defense Acquisition University
Do you know what the Federal Acquisition Regulation (“FAR”) is?
Most people don’t. But if you want to do business with the U.S. government, you should. It outlines strict rules and guidelines to follow as a government contractor, and is important to understand as a government employee in the field.
The challenge is, the regulations run at about 2,000 pages, so they’re difficult to understand.
To help simplify the process so more people can understand it, designer Joshua Flores at Defense Acquisition University created an interactive visual map with three lines to represent the different phases of government acquisition.
He used the subway map analogy so the viewer can digest the concept instantly with a relatable visual. What’s most impressive though, is he successfully took 2,000 pages and made it understandable at a high level with just a glance—not only for the public and contractors, but government employees as well.
9. “What in the Wild” Game
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division (MDNR)
It’s not every day a government agency creates an original card game.
The team at MDNR’s Wildlife Division wanted to teach families about wildlife in the state, its natural communities, and the ecosystems that benefit the people of Michigan in a fun, memorable, one-of-a-kind way.
They accomplished this with the creation of What in the Wild—a game with a deck of 120 cards and the flexibility to be 5 different games. Cards contain plant and animal species and the food, water, shelter, and space they need to survive.
The project was a major undertaking involving a “Game Biologist,” graphic designers, digital media developers, communications representatives, volunteer players and conservation partners.
After several versions of games and deck designs, families can now buy What in the Wild to play at home. __
“Four of my children (ages 12, 11, 8, and 6) and I played What in the Wild? for two-and-a-half hours straight and did not once say “do we have to play it again?” In one double-deck box, we found five different game plays for a variety of ages.” -The Family Gamers (review)
10. Philly Water Bar: Choose Tap Over Bottled
Philadelphia, PA Water Department
Most people believe tap water isn’t as safe as bottled water.
In fact, nearly 40% of residents in Philadelphia choose to drink bottled water at home.
So the staff at the Philadelphia Water Department got together and came up with the concept of “The Water Bar”—where tap water is served to the public in a fun, educational and social way.
The goal? To prove that the city’s tap water IS that good.
More than 200 people joined in Philadelphia’s “Water Bar” where guest “bartenders” served community samples of tap water in a fun, conversational space. Volunteers included high school students, community members, and City of Philadelphia officials—serving what they called Philly’s own tap “wooder.”
Is there a gov’t agency we missed that you think should be highlighted? Tell us!
Nominations for the next Adobe Government Creativity Awards will be opening in February 2020.
We welcome creatives from across government organizations to showcase your work, get recognized, and learn from each other.
Learn more about Adobe Government Creativity Awards.
Topics: Industry, Creativity, Design, Government
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