When Gijs and Marco proposed us to join the Design Across Cultures program at MediaLab Amsterdam it felt like a natural way to keep collaborating with them for many reasons:
MIDI / MaRDI´s essence is highly intercultural, receiving since 2008 participants from all Spanish speaking countries in Latinamerica and with an even more diverse group in our English speaking version of the program, with people coming from Asia, Middle East, Europe, Brazil and North America.
In terms of content MIDI /MaRDI focuses on developing 3 main types of Innovation projects: Corporate Innovation for big companies, SME Acceleration for local companies and Social Innovation for NGO´s and Government. This helps our participants navigate different worlds and views of innovation, while developing team projects for different clients.
Our first 3-party project was an exciting collaboration in 2012 with Cirque du Soleil and Ringling College in Florida USA. It went se well that we knew it will be great to exchange and learn from the Fields of View team in Bangalore and Medialab students in Amsterdam ,all teams working with different methodologies and backgrounds but in the same field.
This year the opportunity of also collaborating with Cisco Systems in a Smart Cities project matched perfectly with us, not only because of us being located in the number one Smart City in the planet but also because the topic has been present in past projects within our program. MediaLab is a perfect environment for this type of adventures and we are both delighted with the collaboration.
Even thou some of the time our Barcelona team seemed to be ¨out of scope¨ (because of using different research methods and not focusing on the development of final solutions but understanding its causes), sharing our findings and explaining our vision, hopefully helped other teams, to better approach the context and the research necessities a design process demands. It certainly helped us see how crucial the bottom-up approach and a user centered attitude are.
At the end, our team provided the project with a ¨big picture¨ approach, our focus stayed on understanding the causes, drivers and trends that influence the current lack of responsible consumption and those behaviours first world inhabitants have. We realised our cities may be smart in their infrastructure but not yet so smart in social and sustainability terms.
Discovering that the real relationship of people with a ¨smart city¨ environment is not only technological, makes citizens opinions, their consumption and production of e-waste so relevant, that led the team to the construction of opportunity scenarios for Cisco, the city Inhabitants and the city government in the new field of Socially Smart Cities.
Next semester, the challenge will continue with the prototyping and testing of these scenarios, that are strongly based in our users and trends research. We wish to thank everyone in the project for the interesting conversations, that provided valuable feedback to identify opportunities around this big change to come!