Outlining an Ecosystem for Civic Innovation

How do a group of designers, entrepreneurs, development sector professionals and policy specialists attempt to define the organizational structure of a Civic Innovation Lab? What existing models do they follow? How do they begin to attribute structure to the concept of a lab? This breakout session, masterfully led by Hima Batavia, was successful in bringing shape to the ecosystem of a Civic Innovation Lab, by identifying the players that may comprise it and how they might connect with each other.


One of the first questions that arose was whether the CIL is a hypothetical initiative, to which Hima responded by asking participants to approach the session with the intent of institutionalizing this lab. The ecosystem was outlined along Goals and assumptions of the lab, players in the ecosystem – whether private, public, ex government, and keeping these players engaged through the lab’s running.  The objective of the lab is to use data from the government as well as crowd-sourced data sets to benefit public service delivery. Through the day various potential verticals of the lab – water, waste and transportation – were explored and participants used these as examples against which to develop a framework for the lab’s functioning.

Funders, users, listeners, advocates, researchers, ideation teams etc populated an emerging mind map that recorded the various functions that would make up the lab. The excitement was in identifying networks and relationships between these players in the context of a larger process of work out which arose many questions. What function should be placed at the core of the lab? Should it be the user or the purpose of the lab? How do we ensure that the lab and its work stay relevant? Eventually consensus was reached on placing listeners and empathizers at the lab’s core, which lie close to users to define the purpose of the lab. At the core, these elements would feed in to each other and continually evolve to keep the lab relevant. The breakout attempted to classify these functions in to those that are centralized, decentralized or both. For example prototyping, research or ideation functions of the lab could be carried out externally or internally. Of course, the lab would need a host of fans supporting its mission and its output adding to its validity! Stay tuned for the live presentations!

How do a group of designers, entrepreneurs, development sector personnel  

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