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2.2 Living labs

A flow chart of the stages of Citizen-Driven Innovation guidebook for establishing a living lab
Figure 3 Stages of the Citizen-Driven Innovation guidebook for establishing a living lab (adapted from ENoLL, World Bank, 2015)

The European Network of Living Labs (ENoLL) was established as an independent association of living labs in 2010. It’s a not-for-profit organisation and has 3,454 international members spanning six continents. The living labs cover a broad range of issues from cultural heritage to healthcare.

ENoll defines living labs as ‘real-life test and experimentation environments where users and producers co-create innovations’. They’re a form of public–private–people partnership and employ four main activities:

  1. co-creation – co-design by users and producers
  2. exploration – discovering emerging usages, behaviours and market opportunities
  3. experimentation – implementing live scenarios within communities of users
  4. evaluation – assessment of concepts, products and services according to various criteria.

ENoLL, its members and the World Bank have co-produced Citizen-Driven Innovation: A Guidebook for City Mayors and Public Administrators [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , which explains how they work with citizens, entrepreneurs, policymakers, researchers and many others to co-create ideas, products, services and processes. Take a look at the diagram above to see how the guidebook illustrates the main steps. The guidebook identifies the immediate benefits of the co-creation approach ‘a new relationship between people and technology: by designing and creating their own solutions, owners have a sense of empowerment and the products and services gain faster acceptance’ (ENoLL, World Bank, 2015).

Look through the guidebook if you want to learn more about living labs and see if any of the case studies provide ideas for your smart cities project.