New digital tools for data collection, visualisation, idea generation and monitoring can help to facilitate knowledge sharing and the learning loops, especially for larger areas. But human contact is still needed to motivate, share and discuss the results, and many communities prefer ‘offline’ forums and workshops.

Relevant deliverable: D3.1 Guidelines for the co-design of alternatives

Check out our comparison of co-design tools.

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Direct interaction can work through informal spaces and arenas, and the Lab organizers should aim to meet the community wherever they are. Community noticeboards using a wall or whiteboard in a local space are essential for those without digital know-how, as is an open-door office, where Lab organizers are on site at certain times. Experience shows hands-on tools are more likely to generate positive synergies between stakeholders. The simplest thing is a large size map or aerial view of the neighbourhood, e.g. Google Earth, as a base for sketching or posting of issues and ideas. Overall, visual thinking is essential to capture visions, ideas, and scenarios, and each team should include for design and drawing skills.

For face-to-face interaction, a wealth of handbooks has been found. A good start are the introductory chapters of the Participatory Methods Toolkit by the King Bauduin Foundation, followed by a look-over of the 23 methods in the Collective Action Toolkit by Frog Design or the bootcamp bootleg of Stanford’s d-school. The urb@exp LAB kit can be employed at the inception of the Living Lab or if direction and structure is lacking during its implementation. When reaching the creative stage, Stanford’s virtual crash course can be a great engaging 90-minute activity for participants to provide them with creative energy and methods to tackle their problems.

Online co-creation tools have a great variety of functionalities that can be incorporated into online co-creation platforms. As communication is of vital importance in the co-creation process, a co-creation platform should always include a messaging and spatial commenting functionality. Which other tools are most useful depends on the needs of a platform, the technical knowledge of participants and practitioners, and available financial resources. For ready-to-use co-creation solutions, take a look at TransformCity and CitizenLab.