Co-design for Smart Cities

Last week, we ran a workshop on Co-design for the Smart Cities project looking at the challenges that co-design presents local government – so we were privileged to be joined by managers from four cities around the North Sea region as well as a mix of academics and consultants.

The day was led by Ewan McIntosh in the gaps between running the SNP’s social media strategy, coming from an education and creative industries perspective – so the day started off with two examples of projects for Channel he had been involved with:

  • MirrorMe  – which shows the impact of unhealthy lifestyle by morphing an uploaded picture
  • “Scenic or not” as part of the mapumental project with MySociety

Both showing how mass participation can be used in social projects – for education or crowdsourcing data that could not be created in any other way.

Design thinking

But the main thread of the day was provided by working our way through a five-stage design thinking process of:

  1. Problem statement
  2. Immersion and empathy
  3. Synthesis
  4. Ideation
  5. Prototyping

A great reminder of the importance of the design part of co-design.

Ewan suggested a book as starting point : ThinkerToys by Michael Michalko

The day was taken up in groups working in three groups through real challenges faced by the cities – the example in my group was the challenge of writing letters that were meaningful to their recipients – and helped them to do the best thing.

I’ll stop this post here, but more – presentations, notes and some great interviews from the day – can be found on the Smart Cities site and the Posterous blog of the day.

Background brief: co-design in Smart Cities

Here’s a short document that summarises the main findings from the internal formative evaluation of the practice of co-design within the Smart Cities project. It formed the starting point for the workshop, and contains examples of the different approaches to co-design that have been taken by the project partners

About Peter Cruickshank

Lecturer in the School of Computing and a member of the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University, Scotland. Interested in information systems, learning, politics, society, security and where they intersect. My attempts at rounding out my character include food, cinema, running, history and, together with my lovely wife, bringing up a cat and a couple of kids.
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