As part of the co-creation workshop held by the Living Lab Alliance in connection to the celebration of the winners of the Nordic Independent Living Challenge companies, municipalities, employees, clusters and living labs provided their input to Oslo municipality. This workshop raised the question how the participants would imagine the ideal user experience in contact with Oslo. For Oslo as a municipality it is of great value to get first hand insight and input in the establishment process of their Living Lab concept. Partners in the discussion were both employees from the services and companies. How Oslo could find their user needs, how to communicate them and how to manage expectations in the meeting between demand and supply side was starting points for the discussion.
- How do you imagine the user experience in contact with Oslo kommune?
- Input from a company perspective
- Input from an employee perspective
- How can Oslo contribute to become an interesting partner as a Living Lab?
The first concern that was addressed was the need to know more about Oslo’s needs as a municipality. At first hand, one good way to know more about the needs is to meet the different stakeholders of the actual needs, preferably users and employees. At the same time this type of processes (e.g. workshops) are time consuming for the participants and a danger is that key resources are used heavily. Communicating the needs also means to prioritize and that responsibility must lie in the municipality to formulate and communicate at a broader perspective than what might be reasonable in a particular test setting.
It is also important to raise some ethical issues when engaging users, employees and suppliers with the agenda of innovation. One of these issues concerns expectation management and how the municipality balance future possibilities with some realism regarding what’s possible in shorter time frames. What kind of emotional effects can we expect from e.g. participants testing and adapting solutions in test periods that maybe change their life in the test period, but where they can’t extend this use into their daily life after the project. There is a challenge for the overall credibility of the Living Lab concept if future visions are too far away from reality.
The initial contact with Oslo municipality
The need for an open dialog was highlighted when it comes to initial contact. However, one the one hand, the group found it important that Oslo municipality should be open for all kind of inquiries – but on the other hand the municipality needs to give critical feedback. From a company view it was addressed that instead of contacting the municipality it would be an advantageous to contact the districts directly when you wish to test a solution. Although some employees did agree, others were afraid of a time consuming process for the participants and a danger that key resources are used heavily. A lot of important input was given regarding the living lab activities in Oslo. To start with “Almas hus” should be an integrated part of the living lab activities in Oslo. Also it is important to start the innovation process with user needs and work together with them. Though, this leads to the problem of keeping the companies “warm” and it was discussed how Oslo as a municipality/living lab can address this problem. A further role that Oslo municipality could have is to gather all the experiences that are made in testing processes in the districts.
Finally, the group came up with the idea of an open platform where all companies can register themselves. There should be ratings on each product both from the municipality and users. Also it is important that money from the municipality’s budget is benchmarked for buying solutions on the website.
All in all different problem areas were identified, several important questions were raised and different solutions suggested that both the Nordic Business and Living Lab Alliance and Oslo municipality will look further into.