What exactly is quality of life, how is it defined, and what affects it? This was the starting point of The Explorative City, a new project by Helsingborg’s research and development unit FoU Helsingborg. It serves as a test bed for creating and testing new solutions to society’s old problems. The city departments and enterprises, academia, and residents are working together to streamline a research-based learning process, aimed at identifying and taking on challenges relating to quality of life in new ways. The challenges of today and tomorrow call for a fresh approach where people’s needs are in focus. That’s the core of the H22 journey. And The Explorative City is making sure a system’s in place to achieve this!
The participants first explore common societal challenges. They identify those found in the intersection between the work of different city departments and enterprises. Step two is about putting Helsingborg’s Dare-Test-Do mindset into effect. It’s about involving the residents in the development and learning through “Hypothesis Labs” that explore what drives quality of life and how the city’s organisation can work more with experimentation. By bringing about a transformation in the very process of how the city serves the public, the goals of social sustainability become easier to achieve.
So what’s a Hypothesis Lab? Well, it’s a way of testing how to work with this kind of learning process in the organisation. With five labs up and running, the work is a collaboration between various departments and enterprises, academic actors, and of course the city’s people.
Dementia-friendly Helsingborg: As our elderly population grows, so does the number of people suffering from dementia. With most living at home, work needs to be done to create a more dementia-friendly society, adapted to ensure a good quality of life. This lab engages those with dementia and their loved ones so that real needs drive real change.
The Residents Lab: The great potential in involving residents in developing city districts is being explored. What tools and methods are effective in increasing the engagement of residents and civil society in urban development and taking on common challenges?
The Data Lab: What are the legal and ethical possibilities for a city to use aggregated data on residents to address their complex needs? The lab aims to identify new public services together with residents, explore the legal viability of data sharing, and get a better understanding of the public’s opinions on data use.
Self-governing Team: Can giving greater decision-making powers to public servants who work closely with residents reduce bureaucratic bottlenecks? And create more value with agile welfare solutions?
Designed Living Environment: Creating a living environment designed to improve quality of life is as much about clean air and public art as it is the power cables that run through the city. The lab investigates internal city cooperation to more effectively bring vibrant urban visions to life.
Helsingborg is looking to its residents in finding new and better ways to improve life in the city. Follow the ongoing development of the project at https://fou.helsingborg.se/denutforskandestaden/ or contact FoU Helsingborg to learn more or get involved with building the city we need.
”Together we are creating the 21st century public sector.”
– Anna-Karin Bergman, R&D Manager at the Research and Development Unit, City of Helsingborg