Polish Urban Labs Online Workshops

In March 2020 The Institute of Urban and Regional Development (IRMiR) in Cracow contacted CITIXL requesting a workshop during a planned research visit to Amsterdam in order to gain insights into our way of thinking and working, our projects, products and services that could lead to recommendations for efforts in Poland to create engaging Urban Labs in Gdynia and Rzeszów for a pilot implementation lead by IRMiR and co-financed by the Ministry of  Development  Funds and Regional Policy, RP. The two city “Building Polish Urban Labs” pilot  focuses on opening and sharing urban data for use by different stakeholders (civil servants, NGOs, companies, universities, scientific institutions and citizens) in order to co-create and co-produce new projects, products and services aimed at improving the quality of life and solving urban problems.  For more information about IRMiR visit http://irmir.pl/en/about-us/ 

In light of the travel restrictions relating to the COVID-19 crises, the visit was canceled, instead CITIXL was asked to design a series of online workshops in order to provide IRMiR and partners with the knowledge and insights that would help them begin their journey to effective planning and implementation of Polish Urban Labs. 

Interactive Online Workshops Designed to Engage. 

In a series of three online workshops (2hrs each) using interactive platforms CITIXL translated the interactivity of hands on physical workshops to an engaging online format.  Lead remotely by Tom van Arman and Paul Manwaring from Amsterdam, these workshops engaged 10-15 participants from three Polish cites using interactive formats including Zoom, MIRO and Mentimeter.  They were recorded in their entirety and available for download by clicking the download buttons next to each description below.      

Workshop 1: Virtual Living Lab Tour 

Concept: What specific experience does CITIXL have with successes and failures collaborating in urban labs? What lessons have we learned and how can we effectively share and adopt best practices for other cites?

Description: Getting familiar with our respective organisations, goals and experience in the context of the living lab way of working.

Why: This session defines what each partner is bringing to the table. It establishes a common ground in values, heightens the confidence of participants in expertise as well as establishes clear goals and defines desired outcomes.

How: CITIXL will provides some context and background by defining an urban living lab and shares insights from our survey of 40 Dutch Living Labs before embarking on a virtual living lab tour of four specific cases that inform and inspire participants. We held a Q&A after each section so the participants could have a chance to not only ask questions but share similar experiences, exchange ideas and insights. 

Outcomes: Stimulated an authentic dialogue among the participants in order to gain valuable insights into our shared experiences and our vision not only for the workshop series but also for our overall goals of creating positive social impact in our urban environments.

Workshop 2: Stakeholder and Citizen engagement

Concept: How do CITIXL, our partners, and the public work together effectively in a collaborative framework to realise social impact in living labs?

Description: Here we focus on frameworks and methodologies that we use beginning with stakeholder engagement, multi-stakeholder management, and citizen engagement.

Why: Working in Living Labs is new to most cities and we need a solid foundation and a common vocabulary to create a shared vision. We need to provide not only the theoretical framework but evidence that how we work in living labs creates positive impact.

How: CITIXL and our partners have been working together with the City of Amsterdam and partner cities for many years on Smart City projects, Innovation Challenges, Hackathons, Living Labs and Open Data initiatives among other collaborative project involving multiple stakeholders to engage citizens. We discuss the methodologies we have used and the frameworks we have developed that have helped us create positive social impact with our collaborative efforts. We explain not only what approaches but how they, in our practical experience, work best in the living lab context. 

Outcomes: This workshop provided fresh insights to demonstrate best practices and effective approaches for impactful projects through the lens of usability, scalability and compatibility so participants will be able to apply these approaches to their cities, urban labs, and projects.

Workshop 3 – Experiment Design Bootcamp

Concept: Demonstrate the value of experimentation as a service and the generative relationship between the city and the citizen in the context of co-creating solutions in urban labs. 

Description: We take a closer look at one or more relevant cases based on the feedback and interaction with the participants and walk them through the experiment design process.

Why: This is a fast but effective  virtual “learning-by-doing” exercise where we guide the participants as they explore possible experiments in their respective cities to achieve their specific goals. 

How: CITIXL demonstrates how we approach effective experiment design in urban labs as we ask the participants to identify problems in their cities using a quick impact analysis approach.  Together we develop a user story and ideate a simple solutions so we can apply some of what we have learned in the previous workshops to a rapid prototype experiment design. This is an exercise only but provides the participants with deeper insights into the challenges we need to face and best practices we can apply to achieve our respective goals.

Outcomes: The participants shared their user stories and designs, and we had an open discussion about the feasibility, effectiveness and potential impact resulting in the beginnings of applying the workshop series in practice. 


CITIXL and Polish Institute IRMiR collaborated successfully to deliver a series of engaging online workshops for Polish Urban Labs. Using Zoom, MIRO and Mentimeter and by integrating proven workshop techniques in creative ways.  The feedback from the participants validated that the content, was engaging as it was informative.  The exercises stimulated a productive dialogue and proved effective first steps to help “Building Polish Urban Labs” think about and frame multi stakeholder management, impact assessment, problem prioritisation, experiment design, citizen engagement and urban value generation in effective ways.