EU-MACS Coordinator: Prof. Adriaan Perrels,
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Personas and citizen journeys

- Authors: Marta de Los Rios White (ENoLL), Ines Vaittinen (ENoLL)

Climate change implies complex and dynamic challenges for cities and its inhabitants. The involvement of different stakeholders, such as citizens, becomes essential when dealing with environmental challenges as it can have an important effect on reducing conflict, building trust and facilitating learning. Engaging citizens can ensure that public values are taken into account in the framing of future solutions or policies, developing further understanding of complex trade-offs and choices that need to be made. In Living Labs citizens are placed at the center of innovation – empowering the citizen’s voice.

Urban Living Labs are environments for the co-design processes towards the development of innovative city services. They place the citizens at the center of innovation, creating an ideal scenario to generate solutions that mould according to the specific needs and aspirations of local contexts, cultures, and creativity potentials. Citizens then become a valuable source of first-hand knowledge about a city’s needs, problems and opportunity areas. Solutions co-created with citizens can generally result into more diverse ideas as well as cost-efficient and well received solutions.

The approach used to include considerations towards the role of the citizens in the process was a co-creation workshop focusing mainly in reducing the gap between information providers and the information needed at an urban level. At this very initial stage the Living Lab methodology was used to consider market exploration and collaborative service development, while investigating the integration of citizens as end-users and information providers. The workshop was designed in order to obtain input for a stakeholder map and initial ideas for climate services needed at urban level, from the citizen point of view.

There are many different methodologies and tools for involving citizens in Living Labs. In the context of the EU-MACS project, two methodologies were chosen for exploring the role of the citizens in the process: personas (including the pains & gains template) and customer journeys.

Workshop methodology & results

During the workshop, a series of activities were used in order to obtain the input desired. The first activity was a stakeholder mapping using a persona building approach in which each participant built their own profile, including a drawing of themselves, general demographic information and more personal data such as their motivations, values and how they use technology in their daily life. The second activity was a group brainstorming session over climate services using the pains/gains methodology. The third and last activity used during the workshop was used to identify a citizen journey in a story telling way, in which information such as thoughts and goals were identified during the different touchpoints of the process.

The climate service needs identified by the citizens during the workshop by interactive market explorations were related to solar panels, farming / gardening, warning alerts for senior citizens, home and public infrastructure maintenance and weather forecasting. From the collaborative service development, in which the citizens journey methodology was used, two main services were identified. The first one is related to a social platform for farming and gardening for experience sharing, and the second one was a citizen co-designed building maintenance information.

Read the full workshop debrief report here.

Persona + Pains & Gains template

Usually used at the beginning of an innovation process, the persona building methodology is used to create a common understand of the final user of the proposed solutions, so they are user oriented and meet the goals of said users. The result of the workshop in this case is a fictional character or persona, which going forward would be tested, adapted and validated throughout the process based on real data obtained from potential users with their profile, needs, wants and expectations identified. Three open questions were used in order to create the profiles: what motivates them / what are their interests? What are their values / what is their moral compass / view of the world? How are they using technology in their daily life / which device are they using most often?

As a complement to the persona building, the pains and gains methodology was used to identify climate services. For this activity, the pains of citizens were identified by understanding the negative emotions and undesired situations or risks that they experience related with climate services. Questions such as: ‘what are your biggest frustrations,’and ‘what obstacles stand in your way?’, can help trigger the conversation. Following this identification, the gains are analyzed by understanding the benefits and desires of the citizens. This can include positive emotions, functional requirements or specific cost savings. Questions such as: ‘what do you need to achieve?’ or ‘how do they measure success?’ can help trigger the conversation.

For conducting your own persona building workshop, download the templates here.

Citizen journey template

The citizen journey is a tool used to obtain insight into how users experience the product, service or situation. It is a tool widely used during co-creation when the citizens take part in the journey, or when ideas are being validated with them. This tool helps identify the touchpoints, or interaction moments, with the citizen (e.g. online, by phone, by email) and can provide valuable information for the designer in order to adapt the solutions to real needs. The tool provides a view of the products and services through citizens’ lenses. In essence, the journey comprises a story in which everything that happens and how the citizens feel during each step is identified and analyzed. The underlying goal of this tool is to solve citizens’ problems and produce outcomes which they themselves identify as valuable.

To conduct your own customer journey workshop, download the templates here.