Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

The key stakeholders included policymakers and public agents from the three municipalities as well as agents of the Lille European Metropole (MEL) to check the coordination between the policies and the scales of service implementation. Private stakeholders were associated according to the themes of the workshops (real estate companies, car parks managers, craftsmen, local shops,…). Local service designers or digital startups were associated to the Living Lab to help public agents and citizens during the design sessions or the prototyping of new digital services. They participated to the knowledge transfer and to co-creation practices for digital transformation. Beneficiaries were twofold: citizens and public agents. L.I.V.E. addressed citizens in order to invent new digital services that were solutions for “real needs” in the city (local e-commerce, car parks, digital application for leisure, co-working spaces, connected urban furniture…). But the Living Lab addressed public agents too for them to better understand the “real needs of citizens”, to share new knowledge and competencies about open data and social media and to create new public policies in the three cities.

Co-creation process

The co-creation process was divided into two stages: an experimental phase in 2017 and a structuration phase in 2018 and 2019. During the experimental phase, inhabitants were invited to discuss about their needs: 30 to 70 inhabitants per workshop “played the game” to imagine what types of digital tools could be created through a Living Lab to “imagine a better city together”. During the structuration phase, there were less inhabitants per workshop and sometimes only public agents and stakeholders according to the themes of the sessions, even if incentives to participation was diffused through websites and social networks. Co-creation process was considered by public managers and stakeholders as a “pleasant way of working” to solve problems by an innovative methodology. There were no dedicated place for the Living Lab but workshops were alternatively organised in one of the local community in respect of a “political equilibrium”. Agents of each collectivity were invited to share their different competencies with the help of designers specialised in design thinking or service design. Some startups were invited to prototype some digital solutions according to the ideas of inhabitants and stakeholders, and only some of these solutions were tested with inhabitants.

Digital Transformation Process

The digital transformation process concerned two types of users. On the one hand, citizens were the main target of the Living Lab project: L.I.V.E was a method to imagine a “better life” in the city thanks to new digital services, not created by American firms (GAFAM) or by Parisian Startups but co-created with citizens and local Startups to meet what they called “real needs” of citizens. On the other, public agents of the three implied cities were the secondary target: in place of digital services imagined by IT public services in a Top Down approach, the L.I.V.E. project was a methodology to help public agents to better understand the “real needs” of citizens or public agents following a bottom up approach. It was also a methodology to transform IT public departments of the municipalities, that have no skills about open data, social media or API tools.

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

As the experience lasted less than three years, it was too short to obtain significant results in term of new digital public services or even private digital tools for inhabitants. The main outcomes could be political as three mayors accepted to work with citizens and allowed their public agents for sharing time and local data. COVID-19 was a barrier to finalise some projects during the consolidation phase of the program. Value creation was less in the domain of public cost savings, neither in the creation of new digital public services than in a change of mindset and the discovery of service design and design thinking with inhabitants and stakeholders.

Challenges & Bottlenecks

A first challenge was the participation of inhabitants. If they were mobilised during the experimental phase, in 2017, to discuss about their needs, it was more difficult in the structuration phase of the Living Lab (2018-2019): citizens had not always time to participate to all the co-creative workshops, in particular if they were organised in the afternoon. A second challenge was institutional even if elected people were at the origin of the Living Lab project. Each local community constitutes the territorial and administrative framework for public services to inhabitants. So co-creation of new public services could face to administrative or legal barriers. Organising workshops from place to place without any dedicated building to the Living Lab was a way to mobilise inhabitants but was finally a barrier for mixing the population of the three cities. If, on the contrary, geographical mobility was not a problem for public agents and stakeholders, some public managers consider that a dedicated place for the Living Lab could be a “symbol of the political will” to work together and could be a lever for attracting potential (private) investors. Bottlenecks are linked to administrative traditions. Design workshops are important to identify real needs, to imagine new scenarios, to test prototypes and to identify irritants with inhabitants. But public managers consider that it is difficult: 1) to make “quick and dirty” with public procurement; 2) to «co-manage» new services with users. If validation of new policies is the role of elected people, production of digital services is the role of IT service Directorates of the local collectivities. Usual routines of service production and delivery are the main attribute of IT Directorates: if they agree with the role of users in the co-design phase, they are not ready for co-production and co-delivery with inhabitants.

Transferability & Replicability

The L.I.V.E. project is not at a stage of transferability. The scale of replicability could be the transferability of design processes from a public service to another public service in the framework of the three municipalities. Nevertheless, the aim was to diffuse to “other cities” new practices experimented through the Living Lab, because the project was co-financed by European funds and had to promote the results at a larger scale. But the end of the financial support and because of COVID-19, experimentations were stopped: the last news on Facebook or Twitter was posted in June 2020. Impossible to find any other information about “L.I.V.E” or “” on the Net in 2021. Transferability and replicability seem so to be largely compromised. Nevertheless, the Living Lab approach is still applied through a place dedicated to public service design in the building of the MEL. In 2020, Lille Metropole was also the World Capital of Design to improve public policies through a Living Lab approach at the scale of 90 local communities and more than 1.2 millions inhabitants, when L.I.V.E. project concerned 3 local collectivities and 250.000 inhabitants.

Success Factors

For local public managers, a criteria of success would be better public services thanks to Open data. L.I.V.E was an opportunity to test in real life with inhabitants some solutions and tools usually developed by Startups. Local collectivities can use data of their internal professional services in order to create new piloting tools before a larger openness of public data. For local authorities, data can lead to a revolution in public services and “doing together” with inhabitants and stakeholders “makes sense because nobody knows everything”.

Lessons learned

L.I.V.E. was imagined in the context of the digital transformation of public policies and local administrations. How to improve the relationship between citizens, elected people and public agents? How to switch from existing ICT tools (websites of municipalities) to online public services? The originality of the L.I.V.E. project is that workshops were organised in 2017 with the inhabitants to define the themes to explore and invent “the City of Tomorrow together”. The Living Lab workshops in 2018-2019 were planned to work on the priorities previously defined by citizens in 2017: family recreation, car parking, co-working, local trade, data for local collectivities, connected urban furniture, nature in the city, digital at school. Even if the project lasted for only three years, conditioned by the funding, the important outcome is not new digital services (still at a stage of “work in progress”) but the change of cultural mindset for public agents and inhabitants. Nevertheless, elected representatives have to take final decisions for public policies but co-creation of services through Living Lab methodology is difficult to integrate in a traditional political process. So, for transforming public services and public policies through co-creation with citizens and users, it is often “necessary to go under the radars”, working in small groups to encourage co-design. Then administrative managers have to list the priority projects to be proposed for a political validation.