User-Centric Services Repository

MeldR: a user-friendly way to report problems in the Rotterdam public space - Rotterdam

City / Region

Rotterdam (Netherlands)

In a nutshell

Meld’R makes it easy and intuitive for Rotterdam citizens to report various issues in the public space. Whether it’s about litter, accessibility barriers, or pest control, Meld'R streamlines this reporting process. And allows the city to resolve any nuisances efficiently and effectively.

Meld'R is a custom-made app that was co-designed with input from 50 Rotterdam citizens. Based on extensive user research. The app was co-created, built, and launched during the uncertain times of the COVID pandemic.

What makes the service user-centric?
Previously, Rotterdam citizens had to navigate multiple channels and entry points to report issues, such as web forms, apps, and the option to call us. This caused confusion and frustration. But with a little help from the Design Innovation Group and Studio Fint, we have created a new tool. Together with a group of Rotterdam residents, resulting in a human-centered application that's easy to use and navigate. The design is aligned with people's mental framework, flows and needs. For instance, people are most likely to report things while being on the street (walking the dog for instance). It is of course more efficient and effective (less of a burden) to report problems while standing at the exact spot, and by sending a picture through an app. Instead of needing to call and describe where you are and what you see. Or heading home to report something via complicated web forms.

Through user research, the City of Rotterdam discovered that reports about public space are essential to citizens' perceived quality of life, and should be addressed quickly and properly. The Meld'R app design principles thus focus on providing social benefits to citizens by ensuring their reports are handled efficiently. To prevent further deterioration of safety and satisfaction within their neighborhoods (the "broken window theory"). We designed and validated the solution together, and ultimately, the residents became our ambassadors.

With Meld'R, citizens can rest assured that their reports will be handled promptly and effectively. The app guarantees how reports will be handled, who will work on them, and provide the current handling status. Making it easier for citizens to stay informed about the issues affecting their community.
What impact has the service had?
This proactive, data-driven service has changed the way people report problems in public spaces. Meld’R provides valuable insights into reported issues and their exact locations within the city. The City of Rotterdam can now proactively address these issues (policy, communication). Thereby improving the satisfaction of citizens in each neighborhood, regarding the maintenance of public spaces and general safety. The app measures both subjective and objective sentiments, including the number of reports regarding the physical environment and citizen perceptions. Which can be plotted in the 'Neighborhood Profile.' Also, data from Meld'R contributes to improving planning/ frequency of garbage collection.

Meld'R has changed the way people report problems in public spaces, since 70% of all reports are now made through the app. Creating a substantial shift in the usage of channels and entry points. Meld'R has reduced citizen service costs by €183,656 in the first year alone, decreasing the number of phone calls made about problems in public spaces by 28,342. Follow-up telephone calls about the status of a report have decreased by 65%, as the app provides better status information messages. Hereby reducing the administrative burden for both citizens and the City of Rotterdam.

Other Dutch cities show interest in using the Meld'R app, and the next steps will include its joint use and continuous improvement. One way to improve the app is by organizing a learning loop with a citizen panel, put together from the 39 neighborhood councils in Rotterdam.
How was the service co-created?
Using Design Thinking methods, this project prioritized the needs of citizens and public servants to come up with innovative solutions. By fostering an open and exploratory mindset, these design methodologies encouraged creative thinking.

Throughout the entire process of Meld'R, citizens of Rotterdam were actively involved. They were recruited via existing networks and citizen panels across the city. To understand citizens' needs and preferences, the project conducted ten in-depth interviews and four focus groups, paying extra attention to involving young people who often have a different perspective on apps and public services. One of the key findings from young people was the desire for more informative updates on their reports and proactive information about public space maintenance in general. Conversely, the older generation viewed reporting as a service to the municipality.

Additionally, 25 public servants and 10 citizens were interviewed to better understand the way reports are handled and solved. These public servants were selected from all organizational levels (from operations to management). The project also collected best practices from other cities for inspiration and to learn from their experiences. After analysing the insights, the project developed personas, customer journeys, and service blueprints.
One of the key insights was the need for a more web-shop-like experience to initiate a report. Using pictures and icons to indicate the issue. This approach also promotes digital inclusiveness and accessibility. The Meld’R app underwent thorough testing with users, including usability and user experience tests, and was launched with their approval.

We are just getting started. The success of the Meld'R app has inspired us to continue improving our services in a user centric way. We've learned valuable lessons from the Meld’R project and are applying them to our entire service chain. Currently, we are working in co-creation with the public servants. To find the best solutions to make their work more maintainable, which in turn makes our city safer and cleaner. So, to be continued...


How user-centric is this service?
Average: 5 (13 votes)