Online data as a design resource

Online data as a design resource

“Data is of key importance for the future — it will be used a lot and is a very important skill to master especially in our field of studies (service systems design)” (participant)

Data skills and methods for working with data, no doubt deserve a place in the service design practice. Interestingly, there is a duality in terms of how data figures as a resource in doing design and doing research: 1) The obvious potential lies within data as a ground for validation: The sheer size of data and the convincing ‘muscle force’ of factual numbers work well as an evidence for validating hypotheses and fueling arguments. 2) A second type of inquiry no less important, is when the messy act of making sense of data works as a source of inspiration to help generate new understandings of context and use — enriching the existing approaches of the designer.

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The February #Open4CitizensFeaturedStory is an update from the coordinators of the citizens centered Horizon2020 project: the Service Design research group at Aalborg University (


Data is increasingly everywhere around – being made publicly available through open data initiatives of various kinds, as results of microprocessors and smart city sensors, or through social media networks. Open data in particular is a new resource that, with the increasing engagement of communities, can become a new common: citizens need to become aware of the potential of this resource, that can be used for creating new services and designers should facilitate this process by defining new practices and infrastructures, that would support the use of it.

In the O4C project we use the HACKATHON format as a playground for inviting citizens to experiment with open data in collaboration with interest groups, public servants and business organisations. Together we invite them to work on a commonly defined problem area.
The hackathon process aims at developing specific solutions (apps, services, interactive products) based on open data to address citizens’ and other stakeholders’ problems and needs. However, an equally important output of these events and the activities around them is the generation of knowledge about the context of the challenges being addressed by hackathon participants.

The SOCIETAL CONTEXT includes technical opportunities, embedded in the citizen community and shared beyond that community, as well as opportunities to foster and sustain communities of engaged citizens with an interest in further developing, implementing and sustaining hackathon outcomes. This could include starting new initiatives — growing out ideas ignited at the hackathon. Understanding and building on these latter outcomes is key to infrastructuring open data as a new common.

INFRASTRUCTURING is in fact a key activitiy of the O4C project and one of its main outputs. Through the creation of an OpenDatalab in each pilot we aim to generate the right ecosystem for the citizens to play in, engaging with the proper stakeholders, data owners and public servants. The physical OpenDataLab could become itself a service that actively promotes the organisation of new service jams, data sprints and hackathons; and the OpenDataLab’s physical place could be a reference point in the cities, where citizens can find support to know more about open data and to organise new initiatives.


In the O4C project we foster social innovation by exploring in practice how to balance three fundamental dimensions: 1) The availability of relevant open DATA 2) the nature of the societal CHALLENGE to be addressed, and 3) the creation of a community and a interdisciplinary network of PEOPLE motivated to engage a given topic from a data-informed perspective.

During the 1st project year we engaged various activities preparing the hackathon and a post-hack follow-up phase to ignite innovative ways that open data might help improve integration of newcomers to Denmark. We tested the boundaries or the sensitivity of the cocktail: integration + data + hacking and learned how some qualitative problems are better solved using open data than others. Also of course, open data does not cover every aspect of the lives of citizens/newcomers: the proposed challenge did not directly point of relevant datasets and the work of the participants has consisted in defining possible solutions on the basis of datasets to be crowdsourced. For many citizens passionate about a given topic the learning curve toward making sense of data is also rather steep – THUS: the excitement even the greater, when new insights about possibilities was reached!


In the remaining 1,5 years of the project we will continue to coordinate activities between the inspiring mix of consortium partners to refine our methods, tools and the digital platform of the project!
Concretely, we are also digesting insights from the first year of activities as we are making decisions about how to frame the coming cycle of activities during 2017: we are keen to get our hands even more “dirty with data” – and we are in dialogue with a range of interested collaborators to help build an ecosystem and a community that brings together three complementary ingredients: Expertise on a topic + Ownership of/interest in data + Creative thinking.


Learn more about our experiences so far on Danish ground:

Follow our coming activities and GET IN TOUCH with us at Aalborg University if you’re keen to learn more about our work: Opendatalab Copenhagen

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Link to Facebook-story.

Framing Design to support Social Innovation: The Open4Citizens Project (presented at Design for Next Conference)

Nicola Morelli, Marc Aguillar, Grazia Concilio, Amalia De Götzen, Ingrid Mulder, Janice Pedersen, Louise Klitgaard Torntoft

Abstract: In the recent years, new forms of organisation have emerged, that have a disruptive power over the existing social and economic system. This phenomenon is challenging the traditional design approach, based on the idea that designers could design services for citizens and public administrations. In the new processes designers and service provider are simply mediating the process of co-creation and supporting the ecosystem for the value creation process. This paper will propose a logical framework for the design action, according to a multi-level structure that includes the value-creation level, in which design is a prerogative of the stakeholders participating in the value-creation action; the level of infrastructuring in which designers use their expert knowledge to support the interaction in the value-creation phase; and the level of governance, in which designers must figure out the structure of the ecosystem in which the value-creation process can be adequately organised and possibly scaled-up.

Keywords: Design for Services, Service Dominant Logic, Open4Citizen, open data.

Paper presented at the Design for Next Conference, Rome, 12-14 April 2017

A fit-for-purpose framework for embedded evaluation:


The January Featured story on O4C Facebook gives a detailed insight into how we continually reflect, adjust and refine our evaluation framework – to best capture important insights and learnings:

The first cycle of activity in the Open4Citizens project was completed in December 2016. Based on our design-anthropology-inspired evaluation framework, Antropologerne and our O4C project partners have gathered rich information about activities across pilot locations and have started extracting lessons from this.

We’ve been engaging with local stakeholders to support organisation of hackathons in all five pilot locations/cities of the project: Opendatalab CopenhagenOpendatalab MilanoOpendatalab RotterdamOpendatalab Barcelona and Open4Citizens – Karlstad. During these hackathons participants across Europe have used open data to develop appropriate solutions to specific challenges.

We are eagerly analysing our first year of activity and building lessons learned into our second project year (January to December 2017).

A Design-supported evaluation framework facilitates ’embedded evaluation’:

All evaluation data gathering and analysis is done by embedded evaluators, i.e. it is carried out internally in the project, with pilot team members being involved in planning, gathering data and evaluating hackathons and related activities. A potential drawback of this approach can be insufficient distance to the activities, leading to biased data gathering and analysis. To mitigate this challenge, we’ve designed a fit-for-purpose data gathering template which is used by all project pilots.

Antropologerne’s data gathering design prioritises photos of activities and graphical interpretation of findings. This facilitates alternative interpretations of activity by other pilot teams to those gathering the information, clearer communication of activities across pilots for analysis and learning, and is a complement to written material. Shared visual templates also facilitate communication with stakeholders beyond the project team.

Formative evaluation helps us to learn lessons across the project:

Initial analysis of our rich and extensive evaluation material allows for us to map out where we are achieving our aims and where we need to adjust our approach. So far, we learn how the the local context and involved stakeholders are important in shaping activities and ecosystems/OpenDataLabs.

Based on early learnings, we have developed design principles to improve innovation tools used in our hackathons. To better support citizens to work with open data, all tools need to be

  1. Data focused,
  2. Simple,
  3. Flexible and
  4. Add value to the solution creation process.

In addition, our open data project partner, Dataproces, has incorporated lessons from the use of open data and the OpenDataLab Platform in the hackathons to continue designing the online platform underpinning all pilots (see last month’s featured story for more).

Continuing to refine both formative & summative evaluation elements – Understanding how best to support citizens’ use of open data:

Across our five pilots, we will continue to test our hypotheses about how best to achieve the project vision by capturing and reflecting on ways in which we create social value. We are evaluating the value created through

  1. structured co-design activities (i.e. a second round of hackathons) supported by a specific set of tools to facilitate participation and an understanding of open data,
  2. the infrastructure needed to support the co-creation of open data-driven solutions to challenges in urban services and,
  3. the governance level set-up that will ensure the sustainability of the O4C approach.

If you’re keen to learn more about the O4C evaluation approach: Get in touch with Janice at Antropologerne (, see ‘Team’)


Look out for next month’s  #Open4CitizensFeaturedStory for more about the O4C project!

Exciting platform ventures for 2017


The December Featured story on O4C Facebook teased out what exciting platform developments we intend to engage during 2017:

Dataproces designs and builds the digital platform for the Open4Citizens project: The team responsible at Dataproces is in the middle of an agile innovation process with the purpose to develop for several groups of users. At one level, we design to assist all project partners in preparing the facilitation of the various Open4Citizens hackathons held across Europe. At another level, we design to give the participants in these events the best possible experiences. This means that we are dealing with users from different contexts and cultures who are all passionate about different topics and with varied expertise and preliminary knowledge about open data.

It is an interestingly complex task, and during 2016–the first year of development–we’ve been testing different tools for data visualization and concept development. Tools that we have proposed for the first round of project hackathons during autumn 2016.

As the project is continuously developing, we are keen to propose a similarly dynamic solution. Our goal is to be innovative about how to stimulate, trigger and support a broad spectrum of citizens, who are all curious about open data across Europe–within the project and beyond.

During 2017 we look forward to iterative exploration, development and test of the 2nd release of the platform. In the beginning of the new year, we want to zoom in on selected personas to develop relevant user journeys. With this approach, our goal is to build a framework for an improved platform–a “toolbox”–for curating a selection of relevant tools for analyzing, visualizing and using data together in a participatory design approach.

Our work is continually under development–you can find the current version at

Input is always very welcome  We’re keen to be in dialogue!

Reach out to us at: &


Follow-up and Post-hack process in Copenhagen

Continuing from the successful Hack Integration event several participants expressed an eagerness to participate in an active follow up phase. Building on their feedback the O4C team in Copenhagen have made their resources available to the 6 participating teams. This means engaging dialogue and ‘hooking them up’ with relevant stakeholders able to support their next possible steps.
Aiming to support further development and ideally creating
prototypes ready-for-testing or applications for early funding, we host a series of three Meetups to zoom in on the act of Pretotyping, reflecting all aspects of the Business Model Canvas and a start-up funding inspirational talk:

Overall, around 6-8 participants representing 4 teams joined in on our follow-up activity – while yet other participants pursue ideas ignited during Hack Integration in other contexts. One team in particular have joined an external start-up process through Væksthus Hovedstadsregionen.

November 10th 2016: ”Pre-to-typing”
Exposing participants to the idea of Pre-to-typing we proposed various ‘shortcuts’ to measuring the level of interest among an intended target group for a new idea. The aim is to invest as little as possible while learning as much as possible – making sure what teams are working on is the right thing to be build. The business aspects of their proposals need to be developed in parallel with their technical definitions.

November 23rd 2016: “Business Model Canvas”
During the second session we pushed teams to think strategically about each aspect of the Business Model Canvas for their concepts – focusing in particular on the core of their value proposition, infrastructure and finances.

December 8th 2016: “Start-up advice and early funding inspiration”
Through active dialogue and rich exemplification, entrepreneur, consultant and educational designer: Thor Rigtrup Larsen joins in to give advice on possibilities and next steps for the teams continually developing their ideas.

Looking ahead
We invite participants and teams to stay in dialogue with us and reach out in case of particular advice or support needed!


♥ Thank you for joining our efforts ♥ 


Hack Integration in Copenhagen

A summary of Hack Integration

Hack Integration is the first of 2 hackathons hosted by OpenDataLab Copenhagen as part of the Open4Citizens project. The overall ambition of the project is to investigate the potential for new and improved welfare services by exploring the gap between open data and citizens’ ability to use open data as a resource.

In Denmark, the aim of the first hackathon was to explore how open data might work as a resource in service innovation aimed at improving the integration of Newcomers to Denmark.

A diverse mix of engaged participants in a great venue

Between October 7-9th we borrowed the great venue of the HumLab on the 5ft floor of Aalborg University – Copenhagen. Overall, 28 participants brought a diverse set of skills and curiosity to the mix – across asylum seekers, journalists, photographers and students (representing service systems design, techno-anthropology, global refugee studies, DTU and the IT University of Copenhagen).

skills the participants brought in

Participatory methods & platform testing

Led by Antropologerne, the O4C Consortium partners have developed a ‘starter kit’; a collection of methods that support citizens’ ability to make creative sense of open data. Throughout the weekend we facilitated the teams through this process – from initial ideation to conceptual solutions demonstrated through prototypes:

  • Inspiration and discussion: Defining what need to address
  • Brainstorming and prioritisation of ideas
  • Platform and data exploration
  • Fast and Furious prototype sessions + deep digital prototype building
  • Pitch


Agenda for the weekend:

DAY 1 – Inspiration and Brainstorming

To kick-off the event we had invited several inspirational speakers to articulate pertinent challenges and problems – openings for improved services based on data.

The Grassroots movement of ‘friendly-dwellers’: Venligboerne reminded us how the big differences can be made in the everyday lives of many people – through social media.

“We’re social activists hacking the social rules!”
– Zaki Abarra, Venligboerne

The Association New Dane (Foreningen Nydansker) invited proposals to support better integration in Danish companies.

“We need to become better at integrating immigrants into working life”
– Torben Møller-Hansen, Foreningen Nydansker

Open Knowledge Foundation Denmark enlightened us on the importance of finding alternative stories based on data and data analysis.

“Turning data into knowledge means making open data useful”, and
“data sets are  political; they shape our world view”
– Niels Erik Kaaber Rasmussen, Open Knowledge Foundation DK

Asylum seeker and representative from the Red Cross initiative New Times shared a few glimpses of the challenges met in her encounter with Denmark: 

“Freedom is a balance between duty and rights”
Marion Chen, New Times/Asylum seeker

The festive launch evening invited networking, delicious food and initial team acquaintance – as well as agreements on team-names and focus areas.

Maintaining a lively atmosphere we energized with playful exercises and delicious food from the social economic enterprise Send Flere Krydderier.


Day 2 – Prototyping and Data exploration

The second day was the long intense day of prioritising ideas and exploring how data might help address the qualitative needs and challenges on the integration arena. 

The platform was introduced and explored. Introductions was given to the crowdsourcing initiative Mapillary, illustrating how it’s possible to create data by engaging the crowd. An open data curious citizen and spare time app developer spontaneously shared the obstacles he encountered developing open data based apps (e.g. for finding playgrounds and monuments).

As teams intensely brainstormed and developed prototypes, OpenStreetMap idealist Søren Johannesen gave input and ‘hangaround support’ along with data-wizz and hackathon experienced Morten Fuglsang.

Day 3 – Tweaking concepts and finale pitching

During the course of the hackathon weekend the participants kept the same level of enthusiasm and commitment for the main topic, which they found to be very relevant. They approached open data and integration from different perspectives, and on the 9th of October they pitched 6 ideas – and was given feedback from both the crowd and an exciting feedback panel.

Outcomes and results 

  • 6 pitches addressing the needs expressed in the inspiration session:
  • E-learning platforms for job-creation, private host-family opportunities, Sports centered bridge-building apps, mentor-networking, and a community-based translation application
  • Excited participants and teams eager to follow-up in follow-up process post-hack 
  • Continued support and networking from speakers across varied expertise and interests
  • New friendships and ignition of new potential collaboration
  • A common ground for students, asylum seekers, NGO’s and open knowledge enthusiasts

The 6 concepts pitched:

New connections, skills & greater data curiosity

The atmosphere maintained a high level of playfulness, openness and curiosity. Overall the participants were very satisfied with the experience of joining Hack Integration. Several highlighted how they did acquire both new skills, a greater curiosity towards data and new valuable connections.


“I believe it will be cool to create a dataset with important translations and cultural interpretations.”

“It was super productive, energizing and a great experience overall!”
– Lizette

“Interesting topic that is quite important and requires more attention.”
– Nikolai

“Gained a practical insight into using data/open data for various purposes.”
– Silas

“I learned something I didn’t know before.”
– Marion

To learn more: 

Calendar of Hackathon events, first Cycle

Barcelona: 17-18 September. Info and updates:

Copenhagen: 7-9 October. Info and updates:

Rotterdam: 4-5 November. Info and Updates

Karlstad: 12-13 November. Info:

Milano: 17-18 December. Info:


Velkomsfesten, “Welcome Party”, is Denmark’s biggest integration event and is about taking care of the refugees who already live here cheap viagra usa. How do we help both Danes and refugees to get a job? What solutions makes refugees a resource for the community? How do we ensure Danish culture?

Velkomsfesten was a good platform to promote the O4C project as a whole and the upcoming Hack Integration event in particular, as well as to find possible participants for the hackathon. We held a workshop where we tried out some of the tools from the preliminary hackathon starter kit, and discussed the opportunities of using open data. In addition, we made voxpop interviews with participants.

Thanks to all the dedicated participants who attended our workshop!

To see more pictures of this event, please visit our Flickr account. To see the voxpop interviews, please visit our Vimeo channel.

Our partners at Antropologerne wrote a blog post about Velkomsfesten, which you can read here (in Danish). ativan xanax

Pre-hack Event at VerdensKulturCentret

On April 30th 2016, the Copenhagen based team hosted an explorative workshop at VerdensKulturCentret.
Bringing together asylum seekers, students, researchers, nurses, interaction designers, volunteers, grassroots initiatives and curious citizens – to map out and prioritise urgent issues within the field of integration and migration.
We brainstormed together and learned about the concrete experiences of being a refugee, asylum seeker, nurse or passionate volunteer.
Using this as a starting point, we jointly discussed and identified key challenges, needs and possibilities. Among others, we looked at the challenges of meeting others, of being a master of one’s life, of accessing information/healthcare, rights and language skills.

Between AAU and Antropologerne we look forward to continuing working on the problems defined by the participants: Ideating, sketching scenarios, searching for relevant open data, and concretising challenges for our hackathon in the Autumn.

Thank you to the dedicated participants who attended our workshop and shared their experiences!

Curious to see more pictures? – Visit our Flickr account