Playdoh, Lego blocks, tape laying on simple map

Innovative prototypes spark discussions between residents and local authorities

To help a local government department in the UK foster more public participation in its strategic planning processes, we ran a Public Future Lab in which we used innovative prototypes to reduce participation barriers for local residents.  We didn’t want to just tell them our concepts, so we used a variety of different prototypes including a re-imagined web interface, a visualization of a gamefully designed social application, an animation of a new service experience, and a physical model of a public installation. This approach proved to be very effective, showing that communicating visually and tangibly can help traverse boundaries when working with diverse members of the public. Also, playful and interactive elements put participants at ease so they open up and share their opinions.