Urban Living Lab in Bogotá Project Launch: a collaboration between Bogotá’s Economic Development Secretary, Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, & Data-Pop Alliance

Ana Lucía Martinez Arias, Rodrigo Lara Molina Blog

The Bogotá mayor’s office, through its Economic Development Secretary, the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, and Data-Pop Alliance have been working this year to build a Living Lab for the city. On May 27, the three parties signed an official collaboration agreement.

The main objective of this partnership is to establish a joint basis and guidelines to create and shape a living lab that will be an open space of interaction and collaborative work, in which the interdisciplinary analysis of Bogotá’s urban challenges results in innovative, applicable, and replicable solutions. This space seeks to be at the forefront of people-centered public innovation, by creating solutions in an inclusive manner, engaging the public and private sectors, academia, and above all, citizens.

Even though this is not the first lab in Bogotá, it is the first one to associate the city’s administration, its entrepreneurs, and academia represented by MIT through Data-Pop Alliance.

The lab will build on three fundamental pillars:

  1. Fostering citizen-driven innovation;
  2. Use of ITC’s to understand people’s needs and problems through data;
  3. Creating collaboration networks among existing and emerging initiatives, in order to offer solutions to the city’s relevant issues, resulting from the cooperation of the public and private sectors, academia and civil society.

Emmanuel Letouzé, Data-Pop Alliance Director & Co-Founder; Professor Sandy Pentland, Data-Pop Alliance Academic Director and Director of MIT Connection Science; Freddy Castro, Economic Development Secretary; and Jorge Mario Díaz, Vice President of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce were all present during the partnership formalization event.

Freddy Castro, Economic Development Secretary, declared: “bringing innovation to the city is a joint task for the public sector, the entrepreneurs and the academy, looking for citizen benefit. This initiative will be fundamental for providing Bogotá’s inhabitants with tools and programs for the development of their skills and capacities”.

Jorge Mario Díaz, Vice President of the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, expressed: “this is an opportunity for the private sector to contribute with solutions to urban problems through citizen-driven innovation. With the joint effort of the different public, private and, of course, academic actors that will be involved in this project, we can focus our efforts towards the development of the city of the future that we want”.

For his part, Andrés Clavijo, Data-Pop Alliance Coordinator and Lead Researcher for Colombia said: “it is of vital importance to properly use technological tools and data analytics to explore, find, understand, and connect people’s needs with good public policies, adapted to the dynamic of our city”.

After the signature of the agreement, a 4-hour workshop was held with key stakeholders, including representatives from Telefónica Colombia, Uber, Tadeo University, National Planning Department and Fundación Ideas para la Paz among others. A total of 37 participants from 18 different institutions came to the event.

During the workshop, the Secretary of Economic Development, the Chamber of Commerce and Data-Pop Alliance presented their vision for the living lab. Professor Pentland also highlighted the benefits of studying people’s decision-making patterns through data for better prediction and planning.

As a closing activity, participants were encouraged to discuss questions such as: How do we make this project sustainable in time? What will the lab’s focus be? Should it be a Big Data unit or a place for designing interventions based on data analysis?

Professor Sandy Pentland stressed that the sustainability of the project will depend on the focus that the involved parties decide upon for the lab, and on how these parties build an ecosystem that supports their interests.

Data-Pop Alliance will lead this initiative from the data perspective and will support all data-related projects from the technical point of view. It is a privilege for Data-Pop Alliance to be part of this project, as it is aligned with our fundamental principles of inclusion, innovation, public value, and human-centered design.