The Looper Living Lab is where the Looper Model is put into action. It is an experimental zone where new ideas can be tried, and new ways of co-creation can be tested. Inside the lab, there can be any number of loops for different problems, from purely technical issues, to wider social challenges.
What is a learning loop?
Three levels of learning loops emerged in the Looper project:
This ‘functional’ learning loop works with detailed information on practical or technical problems and solutions. It can use both online and offline platforms (for example to locate the streetlight and get it fixed).
Here the citizens are ‘in the loop’, via local empowerment, social enterprise and self-reliance. We work with ‘deep engagement’ methods such as active outreach and community visioning as well as with networks and communities of interest (to debate the wider issues of public security).
Local government and other bodies can enhance their organisational learning and ‘strategic policy intelligence’ (i.e. capacity for thinking ahead). This loop helps overcome the ‘trust gap’ and enables government and public services to ‘do more with less’ (with better policies on public safety).
How to set up a Looper Living Lab?
Each Lab generally includes six main components (i.e. a ‘6P model’):
How to run a Looper Living Lab?
To run the Lab, we work with the community to select the ‘interventions’ to work on (e.g. air quality, greenspace) and plan the phases of work:
a) Problem and opportunity phase sets the scope and gathers data.
b) Co-design and evaluation phase creates design options and decides which to go forward.
c) Implementation and feedback phase makes interventions (physical or social) and measures the results of the experiment.
What is the program and timescale?
Building on the Looper experience, and using the new guidelines, templates and platforms, it would be possible to reduce the timescale for these learning loops by 50%. This depends on the community and policy context: if the community is aligned and mobilized, and if local government can supply the permissions and budgets for interventions, then each stage can progress with all speed.
What are typical interventions?
What will be the results?
Places and spaces
What about places in very rapid development or change?
Should the area be mainly residents or mainly businesses?
Can we study local problems (social, economic) which are not local or spatial in origin?
How best to use digital mapping & spatial analysis?
People & stakeholders
What are the best ways to recruit and mobilize them?
What if there is conflict between social groups?
How to include ‘hard to reach’ groups?
How to maintain interest through a long process?
What about public participation in urban planning?
Priorities & issues
What if there is disagreement or conflict within the community?
How to balance priorities which are ‘problems’ with those which are ‘opportunities’?
What if the priorities are about poverty and exclusion, which may be the result of national policies?
Platforms and knowledge exchange
Should the social platform be a membership organization?
Should the technical platform include new hi-tech innovations?
Should the technical platform be general purpose, or for specific problems?
Is security an issue for the technical platform?
Process: setup of the labShould the Lab be co-designed with residents/stakeholders?
Should we lever in other resources, e.g. from urban planning, transport systems, etc?
Process: evaluation of the labHow to report failures?
How to evaluate a ‘learning loop’ in a large organization?
How to evaluate a learning loop in a complex community?
Overall questions for setting up a lab
What if the priorities and issues are messy, controversial, political and divisive?
What if the experiment goes beyond the time frame of the project?
How is the Looper Lab different to experiments in public participation from 30 years ago?