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Posts in category 'Public services'

19 May 2011

Power Lines

Power Lines
Power Lines, the latest paper by the UK’s Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), follows on from the RSA’s Connected Communities report, deepening the analysis to look at networks of power and influence, and in particular those who are isolated in the community.

Abstract

In 2010, the RSA published Connected Communities: How social networks power and sustain the Big Society, which explored a new approach to community regeneration based on an understanding of the importance of social networks. It argued that such an approach has the potential to bring about significant improvements in efforts to combat isolation and to support the development of resilient and empowered communities.

This paper follows on from that report, deepening the analysis to look at networks of power and influence, and in particular those who are isolated in the community. The paper argues that the government’s efforts to build the Big Society are too focused on citizen-led service delivery. An approach based on utilising and building people’s social networks, which largely determine our ability to create change and influence decisions that affect us, may prove more effective.

19 May 2011

Compendium for the Civic Economy

Compendium for the Civic Economy
The Compendium for the Civic Economy is the latest publication by NESTA, the UK’s National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (an independent body with a mission to make the UK more innovative). It showcases 25 trailblazing ideas that are transforming local places and economies across the UK.

Abstract

Against the context of rapid economic, social and environmental change, a collective reflection is taking place on how to build more sustainable routes to share prosperity. In the meantime, an increasing number and wide range of change-makers have already found ways to imagine and grow a different economy in our cities, towns, neighbourhoods and villages.

This publication presents 25 case studies of the civic economy – rooted in age-old traditions of the associational economy but using new organising tactics, ways of connecting with people and approaches to collaborative investment.

They show that the civic economy is already a real, vital and growing part of many places, which actively contributes to community resilience, everyday innovation and shared prosperity. They also reveal how local leaders – that is, all those working together to improve places and their economies, whether in the public, private or third sector – can create the fertile ground for the civic economy to flourish and grow. Most importantly, the remarkable achievements of these 25 trailblazers show why we need to get better at understanding and recognising the role of civic entrepreneurship and enable it to turn ideas into action and impact.

11 May 2011

Macro design for nation building

Uday Dandavate
In his paper “MacroDesign for Nation Building“, Uday Dandavate, founder and CEO of SonicRim Ltd., elaborates on the concept of MacroDesign, a public policy perspective in understanding the role of design and design thinking.

This article is written with the purpose of drawing the attention of policy makers – politicians, government officials, and public policy consultants – to a new way of improving how citizens interface with public institutions, services, infrastructures,and processes.

As the design community in India is mobilizing ideas to co-create a new vision for the expansion of its design education infrastructure, this article aims to help public officials better appreciate the contemporary relevance of design in conjunction with two other practices that have received greater attention and public investment: invention and innovation. Understanding the interrelationship between the three practices will help policy makers plan for and boost creative energy nationwide.

The concept of Macro Design provides a public policy perspective in understanding the role of design and design thinking.

Check also Dandavate’s paper “MacroDesign with Denmark” where he describes how Denmark is about to establish an Innovationcenter in Asia to facilitate closer cooperation between Asia and Denmark for strategic innovation and design and on Denmark’s unique potential as a partner country in the global arena.

23 April 2011

Behaviour more significant than opinion when it comes to service design

Changing Behaviours
Behaviour change techniques should be used to develop public services with citizens’ motivations at the heart of their design, says a leading [UK] thinktank.

A report produced by the New Local Government Network argues that using citizen’s to design services using so-called nudge techniques can save councils money and the report sets out tools for councils to better understand what motivates their citizens.

The Changing Behaviours report also emphasises the need for a radical change to [UK] central government thinking in order for the reco/ammendations to achieve maximum effect.

The thinktank urges [local and regional] councils to allocate more resources towards improved engagement and communications methods with its citizens in order to understand their needs.

Read article

20 April 2011

How smartphones can improve public transit

Train wait
An interesting study of commuters in Boston and San Francisco found people are more willing to ride the bus or train when they have tools to manage their commutes effectively. The study asked 18 people to surrender their cars for one week. The participants found that any autonomy lost by handing over their keys could be regained through apps providing real-time information about transit schedules, delays and shops and services along the routes.

Though the sample size is small, the researchers dug deep into participants’ reactions. The results could have a dramatic effect on public transportation planning, and certainly will catch the attention of planners and programmers alike. By encouraging the development of apps that make commuting easier, transit agencies can drastically, and at little cost, improve the ridership experience and make riding mass transit more attractive.

Read article

19 April 2011

EU recommendations on privacy protection in smart meters

EUJustice
The European Union’s Working Party on Data Protection has issued five recommended requirements for the protection of personal privacy in a time of Smart Meters in the home (pdf), outlining what needs to happen in order to gain the benefits of Smart Metering data while minimizing the risk and cost to personal privacy.

The Working Group’s recommendations:

  • Electricity consumption data should be treated as Personal Information, because it can be traced back to an individual person. Europeans treat Personal Information very seriously, sometimes arguably at the expense of technological innovation.
  • Push-button consent: the Working Group recommends that Smart Meter providers develop easy buttons that consumers can push to grant or remove consent that their data be shared with anyone who seeks to offer them enhanced services.
  • The social good is not always the primary consideration. “The imperative to reduce energy consumption,” writes the Working Group, “although it might be a sensible public policy objective, does not override data subjects’ rights and interests in every case.”
  • Personal data collected should be kept to a minimum as required to fulfill services offered – and be deleted as soon as possible except in cases where the electricity consumer has requested services like annual comparisons of consumption.
  • Privacy by Design: “Security should also be designed in at the early stage as part of the architecture of the network rather than added on later.”

Read article (ReadWriteWeb)

7 April 2011

Book: Sentient City

Sentient City
Sentient City: Ubiquitous Computing, Architecture, and the Future of Urban Space
Edited by Mark Shepard
Paperback, 200 pages, 2011
MIT Press in copublication with the Architectural League of New York
(Amazon link)

Abstract
Our cities are “smart” and getting smarter as information processing capability is embedded throughout more and more of our urban infrastructure. Few of us object to traffic light control systems that respond to the ebbs and flows of city traffic; but we might be taken aback when discount coupons for our favorite espresso drink are beamed to our mobile phones as we walk past a Starbucks. Sentient City explores the experience of living in a city that can remember, correlate, and anticipate. Five teams of architects, artists, and technologists imagine a variety of future interactions that take place as computing leaves the desktop and spills out onto the sidewalks, streets, and public spaces of the city.

“Too Smart City” employs city furniture as enforcers: a bench ejects a sitter who sits too long, a sign displays the latest legal codes and warns passersby against transgression, and a trashcan throws back the wrong kind of trash. “Amphibious Architecture” uses underwater sensors and lights to create a human-fish-environment feedback loop; “Natural Fuse” uses a network of “electronically assisted” plants to encourage energy conservation; “Trash Track” follows smart-tagged garbage on its journey through the city’s waste-management system; and “Breakout” uses wireless technology and portable infrastructure to make the entire city a collaborative workplace.

These projects are described, documented, and illustrated by 100 images, most in color. Essays by prominent thinkers put the idea of the sentient city in theoretical context.

Case studies by David Benjamin, Soo-in Yang, and Natalie Jeremijenko; Haque Design + Research; SENSEable City Lab; David Jimison and JooYoun Paek; and Anthony Townsend, Antonina Simeti, Dana Spiegel, Laura Forlano, and Tony Bacigalupo

Essays by Martijn de Waal, Keller Easterling, Matthew Fuller, Anne Galloway, Dan Hill, Omar Khan, Saskia Sassen, Trebor Scholz, Hadas Steiner, Kazys Varnelis, and Mimi Zeiger

Mark Shepard is Assistant Professor of Architecture and Media Study at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, and an editor of the Situated Technologies pamphlet series, published by the Architecture League of New York.

(via Stowe Boyd)

1 April 2011

Free Experientia backgrounder on EU’s new, more holistic innovation policy

EU Innovation Union
Major emphasis on user-centred design, open innovation and social innovation in new EU innovation strategy

On 6 October 2010, the European Commission adopted the “Innovation Union“, a strategic approach to innovation, which is to become a main tool to reach the Europe 2020 targets that will underpin the smart, sustainable and inclusive growth the Europe 2020 strategy is aiming for:

  • Employment: 75% of the 20-64 year-olds to be employed
  • 3% of the EU’s GDP (public and private combined) to be invested in R&D/innovation
  • Climate change / energy: greenhouse gas emissions 20% lower than 1990, 20% of energy from renewables, and 20% increase in energy efficiency
  • Education: Reducing school drop-out rates below 10%, and at least 40% of 30-34–year-olds completing third level education
  • At least 20 million fewer people in or at risk of poverty and social exclusion

The Innovation Union will focus Europe’s efforts on tackling major societal challenges, such as climate change, energy and food security, health and an ageing population.

Design and creativity have major prominence in the new EU innovation strategy, with a particular emphasis on (user-centred) design, open and co-creative innovation, and social/public sector innovation, as described in detail in the European Commission Communication and Rationale for Action, published on 6 October last year.

In other words, European innovation policy is moving beyond a technology-only approach and becoming more holistic, by embracing design, openness and broad social issues.

It will take some time for this new focus to spread to local, regional and national governmental institutions across Europe, who still often identify innovation with technological innovation.

To help speed up this process, Experientia, the international user-experience design consultancy based in Torino, Italy, has gone through the European Commission documents in detail, and a 5-page backgrounder highlights those sections that are of major relevance for design companies, design support organisations and therefore also industry organisations.

The text in the backgrounder is mainly excerpted from the Communication, and sometimes expanded with text from the Rationale for Action or from the Innovation Union website.

Please feel free to use this backgrounder to lobby for a more holistic innovation approach also in your own regional context.

Download backgrounder

25 March 2011

Design!publiC: design for governance in India

Design!publiC
LiveMint.com, the Indian online partner publication of the Wall Street Journal, reports on India’s first Design!publiC conclave “on design thinking and the challenge of government innovation,” which took place in New Delhi on 18 March.

The event — which was organised by the Center for Knowledge Societies, sponsored by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and with support from, amongst others, the Centre for Internet and Society — brought together influential thinkers in Indian government, including Arun Maira of the National Planning Commission, R. Gopalakrishnan of the National Innovation Council and Ram Sewak Sharma of the UIDAI, as well as members of leading corporate and development sector agencies.

In the lengthy article Aparna Piramal Raje, director of BP Ergo, describes the approach advocated at the conclave:

“Design thinking denotes an approach to problem-solving, with three distinct aspects. First, users are studiously followed and analysed employing ethnographic tools. Human needs, attitudes, preferences, challenges, their context and the immediate environment are documented using multimedia technology.

These in-depth observations generate insights into the heart of a given problem. Based on these, design thinkers collaborate and brainstorm to conceive a set of possible solutions. Prototypes of these solutions are created, tested and validated to arrive at a final solution. [...]

Design thinking’s biggest strength—the last mile, or the citizen-government interface—is the biggest pain point for government service providers. User-centricity forms the foundation for all design thinking; they are typically the weakest link in any government programme. Greater sensitivity to everyday interactions between citizens and government services can result in enhanced standards of living through better housing, transportation, health, education, among other necessities of daily life, the panellists said.”

Make sure to watch the video that is embedded in the article.

Excerpt from the Design!publiC vision text

“The problem of governance is perhaps as old as society, as old as the rule of law. But it is only more recently — perhaps the last five hundred years of modernity — that human societies have been able to conceive of different models of government, different modalities of public administration, all having different effects on the configuration of society. The problem of governments, of governmentality, and of governance is always also the problem of how to change the very processes and procedures of government, so as to enhance the ends of the state and to promote the collective good.

Since the establishment of India’s republic, many kinds of changes have been made to the policies and practices of its state. We may think of, for instance, successive stages of land reforms, the privatization of large-scale and extractive industries, the subsequent abolition of the License Raj and so and so forth. We may also consider the computerization of state documents beginning in the 1980s, and more recently, the Right To Information Act (RTI). More recently there have been activist campaigns to reduce the discretionary powers of government and to thereby reduce the scope of corruption in public life.

While all these cases represent the continuous process of modification, reform, and change to government policy and even to its modes of functioning, this is not what we have in mind when we speak of ‘governance innovation.’ Rather, intend a specific process of ethnographic inquiry into the real needs of citizens, followed by an inclusive approach to reorganizing and representing that information in such a way that it may promote collaborative problem-solving and solutioneering through the application of design thinking.

The concept of design thinking has emerged only recently, and it has been used to describe approaches to problem solving that include: (i) redefining the fundamental challenges at hand, (ii) evaluating multiple possible options and solutions in parallel, and (iii) prioritizing and selecting those which are likely to achieve the greatest benefits for further consideration. This approach may also be iterative, allowing decisions to be made in general and specific ways as an organization gets closer and closer to the solution. Design thinking turns out to be not an individual but collective and social process, requiring small and large groups to be able to work together in relation to the available information about the task or challenge at hand. Design thinking can lead to innovative ideas, to new insights, and to new actionable directions for organizations.

This general approach to innovation — and the central role of design thinking — has emerged from the private sector over the last quarter century, and has enjoyed particular success in regards to the development of new technology products, services and experience. The question we would like to address in this conference is whether and how this approach can be employed for the transformation public and governmental systems. [...]

[More in particular,] in this conclave, our interest is to explore how design thinking and user-centered innovation might help [governmental and quasi-governmental] organizations better accomplish their mission and better serve their beneficiaries. We also seek to explore and establish particular modalities through which governance innovation can be achieved, as well as to identify key stakeholders and personalities gripped of the challenge of governance innovation. Our larger goal is to craft a path forward for integrating design thinking and innovation methodologies in the further re-envisioning, refashioning and improvement of public services in India and elsewhere in the world.”

The conclave seems to have been extremely well prepared, given the wealth of supporting materials that are available online:

Design!publiC blog

Press release
CKS organizes “Design Public” conclave – lays foundation for creating a national framework for governance innovation. High-level officials from Government of India work together with design and Innovation Experts at “Design Public” conclave

Conclave Note
Concise document that covers vision, case studies, programme and attendees

Case studies of governance innovation
Mainly European examples (unfortunately) from Denmark, UK and Norway

Glossary on design, innovation and governance
Glossary of terms that are often used by designers and innovation specialists. Also includes key terms related to governance and state-craft.

Bibliography on governance innovation
[Pleasantly surprised to find my own name there, as well as the one of Experientia partner Jan-Christoph Zoels]

Design!publiC Book
A combination of all the above, including a detailed introduction to the design innovation ideas that were explored at the Design Public Conclave, the complete Design Public bibliography, the glossary of design terms, case studies of design innovation being applied to government, and bios for the guests that attended the conference.

9 March 2011

Sitra’s Marco Steinberg on Low2No project

Ecobuild
Last week Experientia participated in Ecobuild 2011 (London, UK) to showcase its work in user-centred sustainable design for the built environment, and in particular its experience of Low2No, a major low-to-no carbon impact development in Helsinki Harbour, Finland.

The Low2No project is run by Sitra, the Finnish innovation fund, and Marco Steinberg, Sitra’s head of strategic design, made a strong case study presentation about Low2No at Ecobuild.

Experientia’s contribution to the Low2No project is to understand contexts, habits and beliefs that influence sustainable change in behaviour and design solutions that offer people control over their consumption and allow them to see the effects of their actions on the environment.

Renewable energy, smart grids and sustainable technologies will only make an impact if we also address the underlying behavioural issues of our energy use. Rather than individual smart meter designs, Experientia is therefore working on integrated demand management solutions, that is, a holistic approach in which advanced smart meters actually become an access point for social networking tools and services in the community, by offering things like bookings, deliveries, schedules for communal services, and information about public transport solutions.

At Low2No, Experientia applies its user research methods to evaluate the impact of the architectural and design choices on residents’ behaviours.

Experientia also led the mixed use planning of a regional and seasonal food hub offering a restaurant, cafe and natural/organic supermarket, an eco laundry and a communal sauna for the Low2No block. Engaging prospective residents early in various stages of the design of service and residential design, helped to understand people needs, desire, fears and expectations. This helped in addressing issues such as multi-story timber construction, natural vs centralized/decentralized ventilation systems, flexible layout of living spaces and the planning of smart systems to reduce residential carbon footprints in the post-occupancy phase.

Experientia researched the user requirements for smart systems to design smart home assistants:
- provide contextual real-time feedback
- analyse personal consumption (energy, water, waste…)
- incentivise reduced consumption through social reward systems
- integrate controls – holistic approach
- design intuitive and meaningful interface controls

We will soon post more extensive background information on our Low2No experience, approaches and learnings.

Listen to Marco Steinberg presentation (audio file recorded by Mark Vanderbeeken)

7 February 2011

SEE conference looks at Europe’s design future

SEE Conference
Experientia partner Mark Vanderbeeken will be heading to his home country of Belgium in March 2011, to chair the SEE conference on integrating design into regional and national policies.

The SEE project has been running since 2008, and has involved a series of workshops with policy-makers on themes such as design in innovation policy, design for sustainability, evaluating the return on design investment and bringing innovative ideas to market through design.

The SEE conference is the project’s final event, and will provide delegates with an overview of design’s role in innovation, recent design policy developments in Europe and examples of successful design policies and promotion programmes. It also aims to review the next steps to be undertaken at European level in relation to design and innovation.

The conference, which will take place at the Flemish Parliament in Brussels on 29 March, will be opened by Polish MEP, Jan Olbrycht (wikipedia), with reflections on design as part of the Europe 2020 strategy.

Bryan Boyer, from the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra, will also be among the speakers, talking about Design as a Government capability. Sitra is the funding body for the Low2No project in Helsinki, Finland. Together with engineering firm Arup, and architectural firm Sauerbruch Hutton, Experientia is working on building a city commercial and residential block with low to no carbon emissions, where people will be able to live enjoyable, sustainable lifestyles. The project aims to prototype some of the technologies and even behaviours that will need to be integrated with legislation and government policy in the future, to create effective sustainable building design by the European Union’s 2020 deadline.

Other highlights from the conference include:

Design as part of innovation policy in a global context
Gavin Cawood / Operations Director, Design Wales, UK

Making design policy happen in Denmark: the journey since 1997
Anders Byriel / CEO of Kvadrat, Chairman, Danish Design Council, Denmark

Innovate and integrate: Design support for companies in New Zealand
Judith Thompson / Director, Better by Design, New Zealand

Service Design Toolkit : a design strategy for public services
Caroline Van Cauwelaert, Yellow Window, Belgium
Kristel Van Ael, Namahn, Belgium

Design policy in practice: innovative strategies for local authorities in Flanders
Patrick Janssens (wikipedia) / Mayor of Antwerp, Belgium
Jan Van Alsenoy / Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities, Belgium

EU Design and Innovation Initiative: What’s next for design in Europe?
Christine Simon / European Commission DG Enterprise and Industry, EU

The achievements of the SEE project over the last three years will also be presented at the conference, along with 11 short films about design policy developments in the SEE partner countries. Delegates will also receive a ‘Service Design Toolkit’.

The conference, which is organised by Design Flanders with support from Design Wales (lead partner of the SEE project), is a free event, but delegates are required to register.

16 December 2010

EU action plan to drive take up of online public services

Bill Verplank
The European Commission unveiled an ambitious agenda to bring public services online across Europe so that it could “serve an economy which relies on the networks of the future.”

By 2015, the Commission wants to have 50% of European Citizens using online public services and 80% of businesses. It also wants flexible and collaborative key public services are available online to facilitate the mobility of EU citizens within the internal market in business, work or study irrespective of their original location.

Interestingly, one of the key measures is user empowerment, defined as:
- services designed around users’ needs
- collaborative production of services e.g. using Web 2.0 technologies
- re-use of public sector information (including reviewing the public sector information Directive – see IP/10/1103)
- improvement of transparency
- involvement of citizens and business in policy-making process

Read article (eGov Monitor)

More background:
- EU press release
- Fact sheet: Digital Agenda – what would it do for me?
- Fact sheet: Pilot projects
- Digital Agenda for Europe (website)
- Digital Agenda for Europe (Communication – legal text)
- Speech by Nelly Kroes, VP of European Commission

8 December 2010

Social innovation is our motivation

Snook
Sarah Drummond, one half of Scotland based dynamic duo Snook, presents a case study about the implications and challenges of using Service Design for Social Innovation in the community of Wyndford, UK.

Watch video

(via InfoDesign)

2 December 2010

Report calls for radical redesign of cities to cope with population growth

Istanbul
The Megacities on the Move report says authorities must start planning their transport infrastructure now for a future when two thirds of the world’s population will live in cities.

The Forum for the Future report devotes a lot of attention to new types of user-centred mobility solutions, as reported by The Guardian:

“Moving away from car ownership, using real-time traffic information to help plan journeys and having more virtual meetings will be vital to prevent the megacities of the future from becoming dysfunctional and unpleasant places to live, according to a study by the environmental think tank Forum for the Future. [...]

One issue is to integrate different modes of transport: citizens will want to walk, cycle, access public transport, drive personal vehicles or a mixture of all modes in one journey. “Information technology is going to be incredibly important in all of this, in terms of better integrating and connecting physical modes of transport,” said [Ivana] Gazibara [, senior strategic adviser at Forum for the Future and an author of the report]. “But we’re also going to see lots more user-centred ICT [information and communication technology] so it makes it easier for us to access things virtually.”

Of particular interest too are the four scenarios for urban mobility in 2040, which paint vivid pictures of four possible worlds in 2040. Scenario animations bring each world to life, as they follow a day in the life of an ordinary woman, examining the mobility challenges and solutions in each world:

Planned-opolis
In a world of fossil fuels and expensive energy, the only solution is tightly planned and controlled urban transport.

Sprawl-ville
The city is dominated by fossil fuel-powered cars.The elite still gets around, but most urban dwellers face poor transport infrastructure.

Renew-abad
The world has turned to alternative energy and high-tech, clean, well-planned transport helps everyone get around.

Communi-city
The world has turned to alternative energy, and transport is highly personalised with a huge variety of transport modes competing for road space.

26 November 2010

The public square goes mobile

The public square goes mobile
Allison Arieff writes in the New York Times Opinionator blog extensively on how citizens harness technology to offer up solutions to problems in their communities.

“What if there were a way to transform complaints into something positive and productive? What if we reframed the exchange to be less about adversity and more about cooperation and action? What if citizens were encouraged to offer their thoughts on how things from transit systems to city parks might be improved — as opposed to simply airing their grievances about all that was wrong with them?”

The article highlights the Give a Minute! initiative, created by Jake Barton’s media design firm Local Projects and launched recently in Chicago. Interestingly, it is quite different from conventional crowdsourcing:

At first glance, the endeavor does feel like just another version of the often-overrated concept of crowd-sourcing, which aspires to gather together the collective brilliance of those most qualified to solve complex problems but rarely does. Give a Minute did spring from an open exploration into existing open-source and crowd-sourcing platforms, but realized the general emphasis on finding the most revolutionary idea amidst the multitudes wasn’t quite right. Says Barton, “At meetings, Carol would say, ‘What are the experts not figuring out? What are these new silver bullets that trained professionals aren’t coming up with?’ It’s not about inventing new ideas but having those ideas phrased and framed by the public so it doesn’t feel like [the solution] is being dropped down from above.”

“It’s about people in a specific neighborhood saying let’s put in a garden here,” Barton continues. “I’d say it’s a more nuanced approach to crowd-sourcing, less the winner-takes-all model but rather getting a group to rally around something specific. The entire process is designed for maximum participation to some kind of constructive end. The basic idea was to reinvent public participation for the 21st century.”

Read article

24 November 2010

Governments benefit from embracing new technologies to engage with citizens

Kelly Dempski
Governments around the world must continue to embrace social media and other new technologies because besides empowering citizens new technologies bring in a “myriad of benefits” for the public sector as well, argues Kelly Dempski of Accenture Technology Labs on eGov Monitor.

For the government, he claims, this new paradigm offers a myriad benefits. For example:
- Reduced cost per engagement
- More opportunities for people to help each other
- More directed mouthpiece to the citizens
- More direct connection with the community and their interests
- More knowledge about who they’re talking to
- Multimedia sharing
- Opportunity for citizens to develop mashups and other applications to support the government’s efforts

Read article

24 November 2010

“The greenest product is the one that already exists.”

Zipcars
David Wigder, Vice President of Business Development at RecycleBank, explores on Marketing Green the rise of the peer-to-peer green economy, and in particular the three emerging peer-to-peer models that can facilitate greener transactions:

“Online models challenge the notion of permanent ownership, and with it the environmental impact that it brings. Instead, ownership is viewed as a temporary or altogether unnecessary condition required for realizing product benefits. Products such as cars, beds, clothes, lawnmowers and drills often lay idle and available for use if only those that are in need connect with those that have. Collectively, many have dubbed such transactions ‘collaborative’ consumption because they require the involvement of a community network to make them liquid.”

Read article

(via FutureLab)

22 November 2010

Invading Cyprus with user-centred design

Schedia
A group of young designers are making their mark on Nicosia’s urban scene by creatively redesigning “misused public spaces”.

“Our goal is to give solutions on how these spaces could be used,” said designer Marina Hadjilouca, one of the founders and designers of Schedia, organisers of this weekend’s Urban Invaders event.

Schedia was set up in December 2009 and focuses on user-centred designs, exploring how methods used within this area of design can improve urban regeneration, such as the transformation of the old town of Nicosia, as well as public and private places like libraries. This type of design is centred on the user, researching its characteristics and providing solutions that meet their needs, wishes and expectations. The process covers each stage of design, starting from the research involving the public to the outline of the idea and the development of the space.

Read article

21 November 2010

The reference user experience: four essays

Library Journal
The essays featured here stem from talks given at the Focusing on the User Experience session of this year’s Reference Renaissance conference, a biennial gathering of reference and user services librarians put on by the BCR consortium in Colorado. The following four essays address the idea of responsiveness as it relates to reference services.

Fish Market 101: Why not a reference user experience?
By Steven Bell
People come to the desk to ask a question. They get an answer or referral. They go away. It sounds rather mundane and routine, which is why it’s called a reference transaction. What if it were considered a reference user experience? Is such a thing even possible?

Imagination, sympathy and the user experience
By Wayne Bivens-Tatum
I discovered that there are some excellent principles in the user experience (UX) literature. I’m going to tell you why you can ignore them.

Why I don’t use libraries for reference anymore
By Jean Costello
I’ve come to accept that the libraries available to me are good sources for popular entertainment material and pleasant conversation with staff. Anything else is more than the system can provide.

The visibility and invisibility of librarians
By James LaRue
In a time when we are grappling more deeply with the nature of securing support for libraries, we need to think more carefully about the continuum of librarian visibility.

7 November 2010

The enabling city

The enabling city
Italian social researcher Chiara Camponeschi has written a fascinating Creative-Commons licensed publication, The Enabling City: Place-Based Creative Problem-Solving and the Power of the Everyday (pdf), an innovative toolkit – also featured on a website – that showcases pioneering initiatives in urban sustainability and open governance.

“I am a firm believer in the power of communities to solve their own needs and contribute to larger processes of change”, says Camponeschi in an article published in The Mobile City.

“The recent graduate of York University based The Enabling City on international research she conducted as part of her Master in Environmental Studies in Toronto, Canada.

“I believe that there are vast amounts of untapped knowledge and creativity out there that we need to unleash to make our cities more open and sustainable”, she continues. The Enabling City exists to document and celebrate the power of inter-actor collaboration and of our everyday experiences in enhancing problem-solving and social innovation worldwide.

The toolkit showcases a total of forty innovative initiatives across six categories: place-making; eating and growing; resource-sharing; learning and socializing; steering and organizing; and financing. Through what she refers to as ‘place-based creative problem-solving’, Camponeschi sketches out an approach to participation that leverages the imagination and inventiveness of citizens, experts, and activists in collaborative efforts that make cities more inclusive, innovative, and interactive.

Through their involvement, creative citizens worldwide demonstrate that citizenship is so much more than duties and taxes it’s about outcome ownership, enablement, and the celebration of the myriad connections that make up the collective landscape of the place(s) we call home. The Enabling City, then, is here to invite us to unleash the power of our creative thinking and to rediscover ‘the power of the everyday.’”

Publication abstract

At its simplest, The Enabling City is a new way of thinking about communities and change.

Guided by principles such as collaboration, innovation and participation, the pioneering initiatives featured in The Enabling City attest to the power of community in stimulating the kind of innovative thinking needed to tackle complex issues ranging from participatory citizenship to urban livability.

We know that markets are no longer the only sources of innovation, and that citizens are capable of more than just voting during election time. We have entered an era where interactive technologies and a renewed idea of citizenship are enabling us to experiment with alternative notions of sustainability and to share knowledge in increasingly dynamic ways. We now see artists working alongside policy makers, policy makers collaborating with citizens, and citizens helping cities diagnose their problems more accurately.

What emerges, then, is a community where the local and global are balanced and mediated by the city at large, and where local resources and know-how are given wider legitimacy as meaningful problem-solving tools in the quest for urban and cultural sustainability.

Here, innovation is intended as a catalyst for social change — a collaborative process through which citizens can be directly involved in shaping the way a project, policy, or service is created and delivered. A shift from control to enablement turns cities into platforms for community empowerment — holistic, living spaces where people make their voices heard and draw from their everyday experiences to affect change.

So be surprised by how walks have the power to make neighbourhoods more vibrant, and how art can be used to convert dull city intersections into safe community spaces. Learn how creative interventions can unleash spaces for reflection and participation, and witness how online resources can lead to offline collaboration and resource-sharing. See how the values of Web 2.0 translate into the birth of the open government and open data movement, and what a holistic approach to financing can bring to local communities and cities alike.

This is what place-based creative problem-solving looks like in action. This is the power of the everyday.

Chiara Camponeschi works at the intersection of interdisciplinary research, social innovation and urban sustainability. She is passionate about the ‘creative citizen’ movement, and is committed to strengthening and supporting networks of grassroots social innovation. Originally from Rome, Italy Chiara has been involved with creative communities in Europe and Canada for over six years. Chiara holds a BA (Hons) in Political Science & Communications Studies, and a Master in Environmental Studies from York University in Toronto, Canada.