A pinch of Facebook and a dose of Foursquare: mix it all up and you will get “Là pour toi” (Here’s for you), the new hyperlocal social network of La Défense, of which purpose is to bring some life to a business district that is often seen as a soulless ant hill. For the agency Le Hub, which created this new service, fun is a key element in the bringing together of inhabitants, employees and firms in La Défense.
An application used as an excuse
In practical terms, “Là pour toi” first started with the launching of an iPhone application and a dedicated website but “the application is an alibi, a vehicle for change, but is certainly not a thing-in-itself,” Bruno Caillet, the development manager of the agency Le Hub, warns us. It is merely a way to kick off the initiative and make things work. Created in partnership with Defacto, the public management organisation of La Défense, the Hauts-de-Seine Department Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Departmental Committee of Tourism, “Là pour toi” targets all the people in the area, from the yuppie to the old lady who has lived all her life in the district, including associations and firms.
At first sight, the application is an entertaining service that enables private individuals to exchange services – in the manner of classified ads – and learn some unusual facts about architectural or historical elements in La Défense. On the interface, users can see gelocated bubbles created by other users. “Great Opportunities” bubbles give invitations, “Events” bubbles recall the must-see shows in La Défense and “Discoveries” informative bubbles refer to written, audio or video information about various aspects of the area. “Contribubbles” are the easiest way to understand the contributory and interactive aspect of the service: organising meetings with neighbours to look for new ideas and help the service to function, encouraging users to send their pictures of La Défense in order to create the area’s living memory… But the “Challenge” bubbles are the ones that give a unique touch to the project, the purpose of which is to spur everyone on to participate.
Participating in a challenge and winning participation points
The creation of this “intermediation platform” originates from the observation that, to make people meet, you need to set up events that will bring them together. The project partners did not set any limit: people may organise a marathon on the roof of the CNIT, a debate on the ethical approach of business management with students at the IESEG, create training courses with the area’s gardeners or a musical piece with all the music lovers… Everyone can suggest a challenge or want to take one up.
But participating in these events presupposes that volunteer people share a participative approach.
The principle is quite simple: taking up challenges enables to win points that will give access to these events. This is the strong point of the project, which is not based on monetary exchanges. The mere fact of informing, forwarding information or participating in the activity of the platform to a larger extent gives the opportunity to win points that will be used to decide between contestants wishing to participate in an event. Since the platform was launched on the 9th of February, 250 persons already registered and posted about a hundred virtual bubbles. Yet “if there are 10,000 users tomorrow but they do not create new experiences in the area, it will be a failure,” Bruno Caillet says, though he is slowly making things work.
To learn more about the innovation presented in this article, please contact us at email@example.com
Translated by Oona Bijasson