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Boundary conditions for successful Urban Living Labs: SubUrbanLab Report 2.1

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Urban Living Labs are development environments that integrate residents and other stakeholders to develop and test new solutions in their daily life. The users of the new services or solutions are active partners in the whole development process which happens in the real urban context. Urban Living Labs utilize various co-design methods for understanding the needs, generating solution ideas, presenting ideas and evaluating the solutions in practice. In addition, citizen participation methods are used for participation in decision making and taking action.

This document presents the boundary conditions for successful Urban Living Lab implementation as well as methods that can be used in different stages of the development process. The report is targeted for municipalities, housing companies and researchers that aim at involving different stakeholders in different kinds of development projects in the urban context.

Before starting Urban Living Lab activities, several things have to be checked and planned. First of all, understanding the context is important. This understanding can be obtained by interviewing people from different backgrounds, observing the environment and familiarising oneself with earlier reports written about the area and its challenges. The next tasks are to define the goals for the development project based on the needs of different target groups, identify the residents and other stakeholders who should participate in the project and involve them in defining the aims, clarify the roles in the Urban Living Lab and define a transparent decision making process. Finally, the methods for the specific actions and the communication process should be planned.

Key success factors for Urban Living Labs are the early and continuous involvement of the affected people, clear goals and expectations, and acting instead of discussing. The methods must be adapted to the goals and participants. At its best, people can participate in the Urban Living Lab activities as a part of their other activities and see the effects of their participation shortly afterwards.