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Tools for citizen dialogues and innovation

How can the day-to-day needs, interests and opinions of local residents be met and matched in the urban development planning that takes place in every town and city? How can the abilities of citizens be brought to bear? Uppsala Municipality sought the help of RISE and was provided with a tool for improved citizen dialogue; one that can be used to identify and develop new services.

Although urban development of a digital nature to make the city more attractive and easier for people to live sustainably is high on the agenda in many cities and municipalities, the question remains; what exactly can be made ‘easier’ and what new, smart services should we develop? And how can we promote local citizen-driven innovation? Conducting surveys is one way to begin to come to grips with these issues. Uppsala Municipality chose another path.

“We weren’t content to rely on questionnaires; instead, with the help of RISE, we decided to implement an ethnographic method and in-depth interviews. This is based on actively mapping the everyday lives of people,” explains Johan Rosén, business strategist at Uppsala Municipality.

Toolbox gives insights

Using the data collected, RISE produced a toolbox – a type of board game – for use in workshops to provide participants with a more reliable understanding of people’s everyday lives and interests in a citizen-centred environment.

This toolbox therefore represents the lives and interactions of people at six locations where citizen-centred activities are conducted in Uppsala. Examples include a bicycle repair workshop, a tailors and dry-cleaners situated in a shopping centre, and a shared, technology-oriented workplace.

Citizen-driven activities

The toolbox contains materials, data and various activities for staging day-to-day situations and interactions at these locations. The concept behind the method is that participants in workshops should trigger ideas for services that might add value to citizen-driven activities.

“The toolbox is a method for building concepts based on interviews from one or more interview subjects. There is also a deck of cards with data designed to assist a workshop group in coming up with new services. The group improvises various scenarios that emphasise the end user and stages services to see how these might work in practice. As such, it is a aid to releasing creative thinking about new services,” says Johan Rosén.

Uppsala Municipality is keen to develop some of the ideas that emerged from the workshops and is now looking for external funding, including exploring innovation procurements as a means of realising concepts. Other European cities have also shown an interest in the method.

“We are now looking at how we can continue to work with RISE and citizen-centred innovation. I foresee that we will be using the method again, not least as we build a new urban district with space for 350,000 residents.

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Kristina Mjörnell

Affärs-och innovationsområdeschef

Read more about Kristina