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Living Labs shortening the time from concept to implementation

Living Labs is a smart way of working with innovations. By working with testbeds in a real-world environment, it is possible to significantly shorten the time from concept to implementation. This method is particularly suitable for projects that involve many different stakeholders.

When we start working with an innovation, we don’t usually know what this work is going to result in. By using the Living Labs methodology, we can create a good structure for this work, even if the content itself is initially unclear.

“Living Labs is all about collaboration between stakeholders, where everyone gathers in a physical room to create something together. This provides the stakeholders with a better understanding of each other’s roles and of the objectives and challenges that exist. It also creates a sense of trust that makes people more willing to share data, which can otherwise be a critical factor,” says Sandra Haraldson, Living Labs expert at RISE.

The work is carried out at system level, one step above all the stakeholders involved. For example, the system might comprise a transport system or ecosystem where more stakeholders need to be able to interact digitally.

“As a starting point, we tend to conduct scenario-based mapping during which we identify the scope and what we have in common, such as common customers, objects or flows. In an infrastructure project, for example, this might relate to the flow of travellers,” explains Sandra Haraldson.

She is currently working on a couple of Living Labs, in which a railway station and rail yard will be optimised so as to become efficient nodes in a larger system.

“We tend to work on the basis of the most complex conditions. In the case of the station, we have selected Stockholm Central as a pilot. This makes it easier when we want to scale the solution up to encompass other nodes in the system. When we run a demo or testbed, the intended users are involved as co-creators at every stage,” says Sandra Haraldson.

The methodology is well suited to innovation projects in all areas

Test before investing

The co-creators of the station project include the Swedish Transport Administration, SJ, Green Cargo, Jernhusen, which owns the properties, and ISS, which manages the signal box.. By running physical tests based on actual needs and challenges, future users will have the opportunity to investigate how things might turn out without first having to make major investment decisions.

“This working method makes it easy to adjust things along the way, as well as making it possible to constantly adapt the demand scenario to whatever applies right now. The outcome will be a highly agile or iterative process, which significantly shortens the time from concept to implementation,” Sandra Haraldson points out.

Matches needs and offers

Another interesting project at the moment is “I.Hamn”. This involves strengthening Sweden’s small and medium-sized ports, and basically covers all ports apart from Gothenburg. Many of these are not yet digital, and so a large portion of the work is conducted completely manually.

“We are currently entering an interesting phase in which we are establishing physical testbeds, the aim being to match the needs of the ports with that which a number of different suppliers can offer. For example, this might relate to systems that create a better overview of when boats and trucks are arriving, making it easier to plan staffing,” says Sandra Haraldson.

And it’s not just infrastructure projects that can benefit from the Living Labs methodology.

“Schools and healthcare are other good examples. The methodology is well suited to innovation projects in all areas, especially when many different stakeholders are involved and need to be able to work together,” says Sandra Haraldson.

Published: 2021-09-14

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Sandra Haraldson

Senior Researcher

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