The I-CHANGE project combines tasks from many fields that do not necessarily interact easily with each other. Knowledge from climate science (physics, biology, meteorology) is combined with information science (data engineering, communications) and need to be synthesized in practice (deliberative processes) and dialogue with stakeholders and citizens in the Living Labs. This is an immensely difficult task and Living Lab partners are forced to delve into fields of research they are not completely familiar with.
The first nine months of I-CHANGE have reflected this variety of knowledge being combined in several deliverables, aimed at the Living Lab partners, who are expected to take the knowledge in and use it to form their lab. Thus, the workload for each Living Lab partner has been substantial in trying to read, understand and act on all guidelines and requests and the expectations to the Living Lab partners are extremely high. Understanding the content is not enough; Living Lab partners are expected to convert the synthesized knowledge into action in their respective Living Labs. The other I-CHANGE partners must and have taken the role as supporters and assist where needed, but in order to do this the Living Lab partners still have to understand the requests and reflect and understand where they need help. This set-up phase is just a starting point, and the Living Labs will be able to keep working on engagement throughout the project.
The eagerness in I-CHANGE to start the research and get results is a great potential and have led to a number of pilots of testing sensors in this Living Lab set-up phase. This requires time to set up and has provoked decisions concerning technical set-ups and engagement of both stakeholders and citizens. As these decisions are now being tested it is very important that the piloting Living Labs evaluate with their participants in order to open up for adjustments and new perspectives. Actions like including stakeholders and citizens in these first learnings are vital in turning risks into potentials.
The Living Labs have expectedly not yet facilitated a lot of activities, since the Living Labs are not officially starting before December 2022. But in general, the Living Labs have had several online or physical meetings with stakeholders and all Living Labs have had one stakeholder workshop. In the planning of this workshop, the DBT have provided our guidance and support.
In I-CHANGE very experienced researchers are used to presenting their agendas and findings. In I-CHANGE we are specifically focusing on involving stakeholders and citizens both to widen up the perspective in order to work on getting more robust solutions and methods and not least increase the motivation of both stakeholders and citizens to hold their engagement making the Living Labs long-term sustainable. Another great potential of the Living Lab partners is to continuously work with opening up the activities, to strategically outline possibilities to establish participant responsibility and mandate. All activities should keep the presenting at as low a level as possible and focus more on the interaction and dialogue.
One last example of a risk that we will grow into a potential is the communication. The Living Lab partners are generally really good at getting airtime. Very experienced professors have already had several interviews, lectures and academic performances. The project partners are effectively using platforms like LinkedIn and Twitter. From now on it will be important to tell the I-CHANGE story to ordinary people in the local communities in language and terms they can relate to. This should be done continuously and in co-creation will local stakeholders and citizen.
By Niels-Kristian Tjelle Holm and Stine Skot, Danish Board of Technology