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Service Lab: where people imagine and design the services of tomorrow

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par Matthew Marino | 08.28.10

une_user-studio2_100826
Service Lab is an online application conceived by the agency USER STUDIO that enables residents of Hauts-de-Garonne to design services for their territory. Introduced last July in Marseille at the LIFT conference France 2010, the application is part of an extensive program of urban renewal and social enterprise undertaken by four cities on the right bank of Bordeaux (Bassens, Lormont Cenon and Floirac ).

carre50_mmarino_1008261Cultivate ideas

In 2009, USER STUDIO conducted an immersion mission in the four towns of the right bank as part of the program “Territories in residences.” For the occasion the team created a range of tools to help draw local projects and information to the surface, in a bottom-up fashion. One of these tools was an online suggestion box. Its operation is simple: a participant describes in a few words an idea for his or her city and submits it to an idea bank.

Visualize ideas

The creators learned from their experiences with the first tools and are evolving new ones. The majority of interlocutors met on location were not used to being solicited for their opinions or ideas. After all, it is not easy to formulate an idea, let alone communicate it, especially when the question is about a town or neighborhood-related service. How can a service-focused idea be made tangible so that it can be best explained and implemented? A service is difficult to be represented as such. It often describes a situation where each actor and each element of context has its particular role. Confident after their experience on the ground, the team identified the right bank’s problems and has designed the Service Lab Hauts-de-Garonne.

corps_user-studio_100826The Online interface

On the interface, users find a little piece of virgin land (a geographic core: the banks, the Park Hills, the shopping …) that represents the location of a future service. The citizen formulates his idea and fills in the characteristics of the service (GPS, local context, season, equipment, people to whom the service is intended). In a few clicks, the service is described and depicted. The user need only provide a title and a short description in two or three words to publish it. The service is then instantly tacked on the map of the area and displayed in a library of ideas.

Imagination meets play

Municipalities and local authorities often feel it is necessary to integrate the voice of their citizens when defining new public policies. This radically changes the operation of the design of local services. For example, through the Service Lab in his or her town, a mayor can easily identify the most successful services among the people (voting system), or quickly identify recurring themes. Similarly, a resident wishing to improve their neighborhood can find a local project in which to participate, or share his or her expertise by posting a comment regarding an existing service.

As such, Service Lab is a real tool for citizen cooperation. Its implementation is the result of a previous study that offered residents a board game where illustrated bricks correspond to the social, economic and geographic aspects of their territory. Here, no games, just great ideas!

Credits : User Studio / Benjamin Boccas (photo Matthew Marino)

Translated by Genny Cortinovis

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