Policy Lab

Using human-centred design to make better public policy.

About the Policy Lab

The NSW Government Policy Lab drives transformation in public policy using human-centred design, beginning with digital systems and services.

A venn diagram illustrating that the Policy Lab sits in the intersection of public policy and human-centred design.

Read more about the Policy Lab and our process.  

Our vision 

To make NSW a better place to live by: 

  • enabling government agencies to innovate and implement strategy through user-focused, tested policies, practices, systems and services 
  • empowering the people and businesses of NSW by enabling them to engage with the digital systems that affect them, make informed decisions and control their own data and experience, and  
  • supporting the NSW Government to harness the opportunities presented by emerging technologies.  

What is human-centred design?  

Human-centred design is a process that involves understanding the people you’re designing for and then working with them directly to co-design solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs.  

We work closely with policy makers and users to identify problems, learn about what users want and need, quickly build and test prototype solutions, and deliver a product only when we know it will work. 

An 'infinity loop' diagram illustrating the Policy Lab approach: "Ask and learn, ideate, prototype, test and validate, scale".

We work with different user groups, agencies, non-profits and external experts. We also partner with teams within the Department of Customer Service like our Digital NSW Accelerator (DNA) Lab and other agencies to deliver products and services.  

Working in the open 

We strive to be open about our work. Our openness is what will enable the successful transformation of the way that the NSW government approaches digital technologies. We are committed to empathy, collaboration, peer review, open development, verifiable claims and transparency. You can read about our work below. 

Contact us 

We’re based in the NSW Department of Customer Service.  

You can get in touch with us at [email protected]

We tweet at @PolicyLabAU.  

We blog about our work on the Digital.NSW blog.  

Tools and resources

What is 'Policy'?: A model for deconstructing and defining policy.

Pre-mortem tool: Pre-mortems are a technique used to minimise 'group think' and optimism bias, originating from the behavioural economics field. The Policy Lab regularly uses pre-mortems to manage project risk.

Building inclusive personas for NSW:  Personas are a tool that help you better understand your users. This deck sets out information about the specific demographics of NSW and advice to help you build inclusive personas for your project.

Developing research insights: An insight is a statement that captures an understanding of your users, based on your primary user research. You can use insights to shape your design questions. This deck sets out advice to help you develop effective research insights.

Current projects

Digital Policy landscape

The Digital Policy Landscape currently focuses on digital government policies and strategies owned by the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation. Over the coming months, we’ll be working to add to the Landscape to develop a more comprehensive overview of how digital government is managed in NSW. This alpha version is available for review and feedback.

Rules as Code

Experimenting and partnering with NSW Government agencies to make prescriptive rules in legislation, regulation and policy machine consumable. Read more.

Internet of Things Policy Framework

Developing principles, tools and guidance to enable the NSW Government implement AI technologies safely and achieve ethical outcomes for the people of NSW.

Emerging technology guides

These guides are aimed at NSW public servants. They provide a brief introduction to emerging technologies, including key concepts, related technologies, relevance to government, and current implementations in the NSW Government.
The Policy Lab updates these guides from time to time. You can always find the most up-to-date version of the guides here.


Rules as Code

Digital Twin


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