Continuous innovation is at the core of the idea of a smart city. Accordingly, the role of the citizen has evolved from a passive end-user of technology to a source of ideas, a co-designer, and a co-producer of technologies, services, activities, and other facilities in the smart city. The citizens make a bountiful resource for the distributed innovation system. To benefit from this resource, the innovation system needs to efficiently utilize different tools, technologies, and methods for efficient co-design.
VTT has developed and investigated solutions to engage citizens to innovate for business and smart governance, decision making, and urban planning. This chapter provides some highlights of the co-design research carried out at VTT. More detailed descriptions and results of some particular co-design studies are presented in the other chapters in this book.
VTT solutions and approaches for co-design
The Internet and social media make a powerful platform for co-design. Owela is a web-based tool that enables co-design independent of time and place. Owela builds on social media features to attract consumers to participate in co-innovation for the purposes of projects and companies. ICT is also taken advantage of in urban city planning with visual, augmented reality solutions. A web-based platform can show realistic images of a city area. The images are interactive and augmented with virtual objects and information to illustrate the development plans for the area. The images can be investigated and manipulated, and the application encourages user feedback through co-design elements (e.g. questionnaires) integrated into the display. Attaching these elements to specific spatial locations in 3D space in the image has been tested in the Visual IHME concept. The concept has applications in cases when co-design is dependent on spatial referencing.
In the end, co-design is the involvement of people to jointly develop something new or better. A Living Lab is an approach to co-design that is based on long-term participation and engagement of users as well as other stakeholders in the development process. Living Lab provides an opportunity to apply a range of collaborative methods – whether ICT -based or not – during the process, resulting in deeper research knowledge and better ideas and raising feelings of togetherness and common purpose for the living lab community. On the other hand, collaborative design can also take place in an ephemeral manner. VTT has tested a concept of an open, public co-design showroom IHME  that attracted consumers to visit the showroom and get involved in technology application design for a moment without commitment. The concept was very welcomed among consumer visitors.
We thank VTT Design for Life innovation program for supporting this work.
The public co-design showroom IHME attracted consumers to engage in co-designing smart applications.
In the near future, engaging citizens in research and innovation is becoming ever more important.
One notable thrust for this development is the initiative of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), recently launched by the European Commission. RRI strongly emphasizes citizen engagement in innovation in order to guide innovation towards the needs of the society, with pre-thought risks. The responsible innovation system starts in the school in science education and encourages both genders to participate in making the future.
VTT faces the challenge set by RRI and societal needs by developing and implementing new co-design methods and tools to attract and facilitate citizens to participate in continuous innovation.