What are Social Policy Labs (SOPO Labs) in URBANITE?
The philosophy that lies behind the Social Policy Labs (SOPO Lab) is based on the ability to involve diverse actors with different expertise’s, skills, experiences, motivations and limitations to be engaged in a collective and shared process that will allow to test multiple small-scale solutions that can lead to solve complex problems. The methodology that will be used in the lab will also facilitate the sharing of experiences and best practices. During the lifespan of the SOPO Lab, relations of trust, empathy and support will be cultivated with the aim to extend the reach of the project and establishing connections that can survive to the administrative limits of the funding.
Social labs are an evolutionary step towards the transference of the scientific spirit (inductive, deductive and abductive approaches) that occurs into the lab to the societal domain for facilitating tinkering, experimentation and prototyping around social-complex problems.
A laboratory is a place where experiments are being held, and this SOPO Lab will provide a field where different solutions can be tested for future implementation.
The scope of the first SOPO Lab is to assess the social impact of disruptive technologies in public administrations and to develop new proposals for government processes and decision-making tools. Key activities of the SOPO Lab are to engage with civil servants, citizens and other stakeholders in co-creation processes.
It is obvious that the pandemic has had an impact on all areas of life, and the URBANITE SOPO Labs have been no less.
The approach formulated in the initial proposal logically had a physical, face-to-face, high level component, that is to say, the SOPO Labs had to be social. It was important to value relationships, group work and social interaction so that a group of multidisciplinary people with diverse professional profiles could work with a common vision in the identification and resolution of challenges related to the use of disruptive technology in urban mobility management. And then March 2020 arrived... and the social interaction, the relational and physical component of the laboratories could not be carried out. This has meant a refocusing of the methodology towards a more virtual approach which is relatively more compressed and asynchronous.
In terms of the content and initial inputs we would need to carry out the co-creation process, there have been no substantial modifications, i.e. the first thing we needed to do was to identify the agents/stakeholders that would potentially form part of the ecosystem in each of the pilot cities. This work (along with the technical justification, agent profile, interest in the project, etc.) has been carried out in deliverable D2.1 “Mapping the Stakeholders”, and it is precisely this deliverable that serves as the starting point for building the communities in each city. And as for the initial content, the document that should serve as a starting point to initiate the debate in the co-creation sessions, there have been no substantial modifications either. The D2.2 “Analysis of previous experiences in other sectors” was the deliverable used in each of the cities to inspire the participants and boost the debate.
The results of the first SOPO Lab carried out, as well as the results of the successive SOPO Labs, can be consulted, as they are ( and will be) also published in this URBANITE FORUM environment.