ICX is one of the locations where The Hague is hosting its so-called Innolabs. Researchers and students from The Hague University of Applied Sciences work together with professionals in the community and from the municipality on innovation projects and challenges that have significance for the city and the local communities. Below are two examples of recent work at the Innolab.
Service Design for citizen participation
In the spring of 2016, we worked on a project assignment commissioned by two district directors from the municipality of The Hague (Leidschenveen/Ypenburg and Centrum). The assignment concerned the need to engage citizens more strongly in the developments and activities in their neighbourhoods. The local authorities invest great importance in doing the right thing in the neighbourhoods and, to know what the right thing is, they need to reach out to citizens. The ‘usual suspects’ can be reached through neighbourhood community buildings and associations, but it has proven particularly difficult to get in contact with young and busy families, as well as with teenagers and young adults. The students investigated these target groups and developed useful and intriguing concepts for services and activities that could successfully engage these citizens in the neighbourhood development.
UrbanUX – research on urban experiences and smart citizens
The Innolab is also home to some of the research projects of the university’s UrbanUX research group. The research of this group is conducted at the intersection of the physical city and the digital environment in which we move every day. Our goal is to find opportunities in the integration of the online and physical aspects of life in the city. In the Innolab we conduct design projects in order to explore this integration. We label this method as ‘research through design’ – we learn and build new knowledge by designing, experimenting, observing and evaluating.
One example of this work is the project titled ‘Citizen-Pro’. The students working on this project got the assignment to design an app that inhabitants of a neighbourhood can use to report and map out issues in their neighbourhood. This may concern issues to do with the physical environment (e.g., when there is stray garbage) but also issues that refer to social circumstances (e.g., when support is needed for a neighbourhood initiative). The App will help citizens to express their wishes, make them visible, and support dialog in the community. Professionals in the neighbourhood will use the app to gain insights and communicate with citizens.
Another example of our research through design work is a collection of projects under the title ‘Message on the Spot’. Here, the assignment was to create a new service that allows people to leave a digital message at a physical location. You could think about it as the modern variant of the post-it, or the graffiti tag. Students adopted this assignment with surprisingly different ideas and the developed concepts that are very inspiring and open up new ways of thinking about community building.