City of Sydney Innovation Methodology

  • 2021

  • Design Research

Commissioned By:

Tom Gao

Olivia Simons

Designed In:


COVID-19 created unprecedented change – periods of lockdown, remote working, and restrictions on businesses operations created a devastating impact on commerce and community. In response to this the City used the ‘City of Sydney Innovation Methodology’ to understand impacts and design appropriate solutions to accelerate economic and social recovery.

view website
view facebook
view twitter

  • MORE
  • CBDs which have historically been the beating heart of metropolitan regions across Australia changed dramatically overnight. The community hibernated - household expenditure fell 12.1%, visitors to the city dropped 90% and the density of inner-city residential suburbs declined - Sydney's Local Government Area (LGA) was devastated. While Sydney managed the outbreaks with some of the best results in the world - it's expected to take until 2022 for activity to return to pre-pandemic levels. The opportunity defined was "How might we inspire people to rediscover and reconnect with their local council area when it is safe to do so?"

  • The 'City of Sydney Innovation Methodology' is a research approach that combines design thinking and lean start up methodology. It allows teams to move quickly with high certainty in complex environments to unpack opportunity areas. It was created and used by the Digital Innovation Team during COVID-19 to define opportunity areas and potential solutions to aid social and economic recovery. It uses research techniques including exploratory research, concept testing and the design and testing of an MVP. The research approach took a matter of weeks (not months) and gave certainty to ideas in a time where pace was critical.

  • The methodology allowed the team to validate the economic and social impacts of the idea through an MVP before spending precious Council resources on a full product development. Impacts were strong showing that the product designed through the process had the ability to increase spend in the local economy by $975 per person per year. It also validated that 94% of users felt a stronger sense of connection to their area. Most importantly the MVP allowed us to validate that the product met user needs, with 95% of users saying they wanted to keep using it.

  • The idea that came from the 'City of Sydney Innovation Process' was called 'Today in your Village' - a real time view of what's happening in your village, inspiring people to rediscover and reconnect locally. It works by aggregating 'what's new & changing' in the Sydney LGA and serving content in a hyperlocal way for users to see what's happening around them. Content was aggregated from over 40 content sources and displayed information such as new businesses openings, community consultations, local traffic / roadworks, sales and specials, events, community programs, markets, local news, public health information, etc. This hyperlocal content is not currently provided by any other organisation in Sydney - it's a unique level of detail that a council can provide to its community. The solution targeted specific problems for key parts of the community: - Businesses: Connecting with customers and rebuilding commercial activity post COVID-19. - Residents: Exploring and connecting with local businesses and the community to enrich their local life. - The City: Accelerate economic and social recovery of businesses and the community. Drive deeper awareness and participation in City works, programs and activities.