Setting up a social lab is an exciting, if complicated challenge. Finding the right space is one thing (more news to come on this shortly)
but preparing for the challenges to be addressed through the lab is another task entirely. Fortunately, there are some great social labs in NZ that we can connect and learn with.
Recently the team crammed into a car and headed south to spend some time with the Auckland co-design lab in Otara. The lab is currently addressing the drivers license challenge. Peter Hanning (a member of the lab team) explained that the lack of a drivers licence can act as a barrier to getting a job, an issue that particularly impacts young people. The aim of the lab is to work with the community and across government departments to examine the components of the challenge and co-design solutions.
As we approached the lab, the sound of music drifted towards us and we could sense an energy in the air, but the buzz wasn't coming from the lab. Next door to the lab the Dziah Dance Academy, a big player the NZ hip hop street dance arena, was a hive of activity. The lab has benefited from being close and connected to this community hub. Community connectedness is also fundamental to the success of the Tamaki social lab and something that will continue to drive us into next year.
Inside the lab, the team was busy prototyping solutions to their challenge. The team is made up of people from central and local government, who work alongside technical experts and the wider community. It was great to see a diverse team collaborating in one space to address a common challenge. The effectiveness of this approach was made real to the Tamaki team and was one of our key learnings from the day.
Our social lab is an opportunity to explore whether offering a space for multi-agency teams to work with the community is an effective way to support innovation in and development of wellbeing in Tamaki. Our visit to Otara offered us an insight into how a social lab operates in a similar context. It was fantastic to see how connected the team had become over a short period of time and how effective fast paced experimentation and prototyping is in identifying innovative solutions.