Smart urbanism

A co-creation tool for better cities

Lasse Steenbock Vestergaard is a PhD student at the Alexandra Institute and Aarhus University. Here, he gives a short introduction to the toolbox for OrganiCity experimenters that he is developing.

At OrganiCity we work with co-creation as a central aspect of the entire project. We want to co-create all our activities with local communities within our three clusters (Aarhus, London and Santander). This co-creation involves creating open calls, developing the core technical facility of OrganiCity, and developing what we call a toolbox. The toolbox is a pool of technical (software and hardware) tools to enable people who are not technical experts to create their own experiments, e.g. physical installations or digital prototypes. The toolbox will evolve through concrete community engagements and experiments, and it will therefore, grow organically throughout the project lifetime.

An overall consequence of these different kinds of engagements is that we deal with a diverse group of stakeholders. In order to capture insights from all these stakeholders, we are developing a web page (called the scenario tool), which we use to collect interests, needs and knowledge from the communities involved. In general, the scenario tool has two aims: one is to provide inspiration for people who want to conduct experiments, and the other is to generate knowledge which we (the OrganiCity consortium) can analyse and extract technical requirements from. These requirements are used to develop our OrganiCity facility and the tools in our toolbox.

Scenarios and tools
The scenario tool is a web page which anyone can access, and where they can browse scenarios. A scenario is a free text narrative (like a story about what I imagine my city will look like 20 years from now). A concrete example is the SpaceInvaders scenario, which is about how to reuse spaces in the city. A school kitchen could be empty/unused after working hours, and citizens could then reuse it in the evening (to set up a workshop, for instance).

We collect scenarios from concrete engagements like workshops, supporting concrete experiments and conducting different kinds of field studies, experiment help desks etc. Finally, anyone can create a user and create their own scenarios, which makes the tool grow organically throughout the project. Furthermore, people can comment on concrete scenarios, starting a discussion on how to make the scenarios even better, and anyone can evaluate a specific scenario. The evaluation of specific scenarios is especially interesting since the OrganiCity consortium can leverage these evaluations to get an overview of what communities need and are interested in at a given point in time. Additionally, the evaluations provide a ranking of the scenarios, and it becomes easy to see which scenarios are most interesting from a community perspective. This could motivate community members to actually develop one of the top-ranked scenarios, for instance, running it as an experiment in the city.

The scenario tool is under development (and will be continuously updated throughout the project), and we will have the first version publicly available shortly.

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