Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

City inhabitants and their experiences are integral to co-creation methodologies. As aforementioned, co-creation’s human-centric and core structure that involves user-input is paving the way for nuanced multi-stakeholder interactions. It prioritizes the inclusion of all city inhabitants in order to guarantee mutually beneficial project outcomes and stronger community linkages. Co-creation projects, like the Rome Collaboratory, proactively and consciously valorise the role of users and city inhabitants, and they are changing the landscape of shared governance. The bi-cognitive institutions and the Rome Collaboratory activities, which produce connections leading toward effective and productive interventions, sustain the people engaged and empower communities. It is evident that the city inhabitants are driving the program content development and are central in the design process. In addition to the aforementioned bike tours, diffuse hotel, and Collaboration Day, the meetings during the co-creation process inspired a new Living Memory Exhibition and a Local Campaign for the districts. The exhibition plans to feature the artwork, photography, and musical talents of district residents and seeks to share their interpretation of cultural heritage with the public. Moreover, the Rome Collaboratory team will lead a tailored and streamlined communication campaign to give visibility to the district’s new projects and to promote use of digital applications. In working with community members and local actors across the three districts, there has been a significant increase in civic engagement and shared interest in the proposed revitalization projects.

Co-creation process

Living Labs and the associated methodologies are broadly defined – varying in purpose and function. The leading definition of a living lab is “innovation networks based on the philosophy of open innovation where users become equivalent to other participants” (Pop 2018). Within the OpenHeritage’s LL framework, the objectives of the Rome Collaborative are primarily to promote processes of adaptive reuse and sustainable management of cultural heritage. The Rome Collaborative and the five other Cooperative Heritage Labs are sites determined to have the potential to increase community engagement and build resiliency. The creation of the six LLs is part of the OpenHeritage’s broader objective to create a network built on two main pillars:
  • Open Knowledge – ensuring easy access the knowledge generated by the project including discoveries based on project outcomes and within the development process;
  • Open Space – creation of platforms for social cohesion and cultural management where views of different stakeholders (local actors/administrative professionals, financial partners, researchers, policymakers, civil society, and undeserved groups) are equally considered
The Rome Collaboratory is characterized as a living lab due to its co-creation approach for engaging in research and experimentation. It is a space that adds public value by operating as a platform for exchange of knowledge, tools, and ideas for innovative solutions.

Digital Transformation Process

As an innovation method, living labs are spaces where collaboration and multisided discussions are encouraged. They serve as platforms where differentiated approaches and nuanced methodologies are tested and ultimately proven incubators for nuanced strategizing in governance, private sector industry, and social enterprise. More precisely, it embodies, “an ecosystem approach in which end users and other stakeholders are involved in the development of an innovation over a long period of time, in a real-life environment, following an iterative process (Niitamo & Kulkki, 2006; Schuurman et al., 2012) applying multi-method, user-centric innovation research with a strong focus on user empowerment and real-world experimentation.” There are several examples of living labs across sectors, yet the focus of the LabGov and the Rome Collaboratory is to analyze the effects of co-city protocol in transforming culturally untapped areas in chosen European cities. The LUISS Roma Lab used LabGov’s Co-city protocol as the guiding methodology for the Rome CHL’s conceptualization sessions and communal brainstorming activities. The protocol consists of six phases 1) Cheap talking, 2) Mapping, 3) Practicing, 4) Prototyping, 5) Testing, and 6) Modelling. Each phase is a part of the overall objective to guide policymakers, researchers, and urban communities in co-governance experiences. The process is innovative in that it is an output of numerous field-experiments and investigations on patterns, transitions, and procedures within the public policy development process. It situates the city as an infrastructure that enables participatory approaches and aligns with the Open Knowledge and Open Guidance principles of the OpenHeritage project. Importantly, there is concrete evidence for the validity of the process due to its survival through and support from three consecutive public administrations in Italy.

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

In the context of the Rome Collaboratory, the inclusion of citizens’ ideas, desires, and needs, in the design and implementation phases of the revitalization project produces public value and varied approaches to governance. Further, the revitalization project specifically targets local public administrations, policymakers, civic organizations, residents, and social entrepreneurs, to ensure methodologies actively address the needs and wants of all future beneficiaries working in the public sector. The intention behind Rome Collaboratory spaces is rooted in the preconception of public value. This case example defines public value as the value an organization provides to a society and understands it in terms of the benefits it offers to society as a whole. It measures the value by how well it meets the public citizens’ inherent and changing needs. Therefore, to add value, the application of LL methodologies in the public sector has to generate outcomes that reflect the communities’ desires. This requires multi-actor engagement and resource pooling in preliminary stages and ultimately precludes shared governance strategies.

Challenges & Bottlenecks

In the context of the LUISS Roma Lab and the newly formed Rome Collaboratory, there is an evident transformation in how consumers are interacting with public services and a fundamental shift in the user-service relationship. Most notably, the integration of a quintuple helix model and the presence of living labs has translated into increased civic engagement and participation. Residents and end-users are not simply service recipients, rather they shape the delivery processes and actively contribute in co-governance sessions hosted at cooperative spaces. Insofar, this has raised the level of awareness of the challenges limiting the Centocelle district from attracting tourism and has reengaged the community. By having a stake in the adaptation process and providing input, the districts’ residents feel empowered to lead and it has resulted in an overall shift in perceptions of their role in the revitalization project. Fundamentally, these new models and theoretical applications are conducive to civic autonomy and localized management of shared resources.

Transferability & Replicability

The intended deliverables of Living Labs and co-creation methodologies more broadly, are to alter the existing service experience/relationship and to produce new techniques for governance interventions. Traditionally, governments and public organizations delivered services to users in a top-down manner – adapting policies with minimal external input. The LabGov co-city protocol and the subsequent co-cities including Co-Roma served as experiments for exploring new organizational mechanisms for public services. By positioning the city as a ‘shared urban commons’ the co-city approach disrupts the conventional services to end-user relationship. Therefore, delivery of services evolves and adjusts to meet the needs of citizens operating within these shared/co-governed spaces. The quintuple helix model, which is the concept of a public-private-commons partnership intended to overcome the division between public versus private management of the commons, gives relevance to the role of knowledge institutions. Different from the linear service experience, positioning civil society, universities, community organizations, local enterprises, and other knowledge institutions at the core of the model creates a new form of social contract. Complex challenges demand increasingly active and shared participation of urban authorities and local, civic, private, and community actors.

Success Factors

A key attribute of Living Labs as an innovative tool is their ability to produce new and/or enhance pre-existing networks. Often, living labs are conducive to new interactions and bring together actors to operate within both established and emerging networks. By hosting co-creation sessions, testing new co-governance strategies, or enabling actors to engage through new avenues, living labs are acting as intermediaries between innovators and the intended beneficiaries. As previously mentioned, the Rome Collaboratory is strategically designed to be human-centric and to keep city inhabitants’ needs at the core of the co-governance model. However, it is worth noting how preliminary networks developed by the LUISS Roma Lab and ENEA are interfacing with the new innovation spaces and are serving as baseline models for future co-governance networks. In particular, the pre-established co-city network and the Centoc’è  smart-city e-network are essential foundational networks that the Rome Collaboratory can replicate as it strives to develop a platform for crowdsourcing and collaboration between stakeholders.  The methodological protocol for the construction of urban neighbourhoods and collaborative communities (the co-city protocol) documents work in the field of theoretical and applied research on urban co-governance to summarize principles, techniques and solutions aimed at spreading urban cooperativism. The subsequent networks that have surfaced out of the establishment of these co-cities and the co-city protocol at large are transforming knowledge exchange practices.