Neighborhood Innovation Labs
This is a good example of:convening neighborhoods with experts to solve local problems.
Benefits & Problems Addressed
Empowered residents: Enlisting residents to identify the most pressing problems, define needs helps shape effective technology investments.
Workforce development: Labs expose residents to new tech opportunities, especially powerful if labs are paired with training programs.
Strategic partnerships for action: No two neighborhoods, and their innovation partnerships, will be the same
Tips & Techniques
Defining what an innovation lab does: An innovation lab works best when a neighborhood comes forward to be a part of a demonstration project in problem solving. With a technology component, the lab will test the applicability of hardware and software solutions.
Partnerships: Partnerships will vary, but the basic group includes a city or county government, neighborhood groups, a research institution and technologists. Other partners can include funders, local schools, tech start-up hubs, and economic development offices. There will also be topic-specific partners. For example if a neighborhood is using technology to address asthma hotspots, public health care partners will be vital.
Getting started: The first step is to form a local advisory board and lead institution. The advisory board needs to scope the project and begin introducing and growing the technology base in the community. Workshops, forums and technology fairs can help.
Setting priorities: The community will need to develop and rank priority problems to solve. In the end, the community will have a set of carefully crafted problems statements
Call for Innovation: With problems statements in hand, communities can issue a Call for Solutions (or Call for Innovation). This process solicits proposals from teams that include a technology component and explanation of how the proposal addresses the problem statements.
Demonstration projects: Once selected, the winning teams develop work plans to install, monitor, document, analyze and submit results. The city (or other sponsor) will need to evaluate next steps, which can include scaling the demonstration to additional locations, or purchasing the technology for wider use.