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Category Winner


Covid Response Service for Northern Ireland


Big Motive

Rebecca Walsh



Service Design



Stephen Shaw, Sarah Pannasch, Jonathan Willis, Maíra Rahme

Design Challenge and Design Ideas

Big Motive was engaged by the Northern Ireland Department of Health back in March 2020 to address what was then an unclear but emerging challenge that would soon affect every individual and business on the island of Ireland.

We defined the problem as follows: ‘How might we we develop a service that will address the changing needs of those affected by COVID-19 and alleviate the mounting burden on clinicians and health workers?

Our response was to develop a citizen-centred service comprising an evolving and integrated sequence of touch-points. The concept at the heart of the service comprises:

  • the idea that complex health needs require a multi-disciplined approiach
  • a design-lead approach that incorporates public health policy, expert medical advice, bahvioural economics, user experience, accessibility and inclusive design practice
  • an agile and truly collaborative approach that enables the service to evolve in line with changing needs and public health advice
How the brief was fulfilled

The ‘COVID Response’ solution is uniquely fluid – a service that could only succeed if designed in line with the pandemic itself whilst addressing the needs of citizens. At the outset, we assembled a project team including user researchers, service designers, behavioural and data scientists and software engineers.

We engaged with a wide range of stakeholders to design citizen journey maps and service blueprints that enabled senior stakeholders to understand the complexity of the challenge and its potential impact on life in Northern Ireland. We developed a digital framework and roadmap to explore how technology could alleviate pressure on other HSC services, such as GPs, GP out-of-hours, hospitals and the 111 telephone service. A key aspect of the service in its early phase was COVIDCare NI – a mobile app we designed with a companion website that enables users to stay up-to-date with latest information, check their symptoms and get advice on self-isolation. As the service evolved, we designed Northern Ireland’s contact tracing proximity app, StopCOVID NI (developed by Nearform). The service design effort comprised extensive user research and testing. This ensured all digital products as well as the end-to-end service delivered measurable benefits for citizens and stakeholders. Our work included the design of static and animated content that supports a service experience that is sensitive to the anxiety felt by citizens’ concern about their health and the health of their loved ones.

Since beginning work on this project we have launched the COVIDCare mobile app and dedicated website. We have achieved over 150,000 app downloads and over 300,000 unique website users. Over 500,000 users of the COVIDCare have carried out digital symptom checks, alleviating a potentially massive burden on GPs and A&E departments. We design and launched the StopCOVID track and trace app in partnership with Nearform ( IT delivery partner). StopCOVID NI has achieved alomost 400,000 downloads (approx 25% of NI population). Finally, the COVID Response service has demonstrated the power of good design in relation to public services. Big Motive continues to advise the Digital Health and Care NI team on a new approach to launching citizen-centred services.


Well thought out user journey 



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