Co-design is a collaborative process that provides innovative solutions to a challenge, a problem or a need. In citizen science projects, this methodology is a paradigm change which allows switching the approach from the ‘top-down’ to the ‘bottom-up’ involving participants more actively. For example, you can co-design the project’s objectives, the data collection and analysis processes, and any tools needed in these processes.
Cos4Cloud has implemented this methodology to develop technological services that are useful and appealing to the final users: the citizen science community. In particular, the project has organised 23 events and involved 890 persons in different participatory sessions. During these activities, they have shared their insights about a service utility or directly tested it with their communities. When possible, all their feedback has been integrated into the service’s development to improve its functionalities.
As a result of these experiences, Blanca Guasch, design manager and co-design specialist in Science for Change and lead of the co-design methodologies in Cos4Cloud, has developed ‘Co-design as a service: Methodological guide’, which aims that anyone interested in co-design can implement in their own citizen science or software development projects by following this document.
“I believe co-design is a key tool when discussing collaborative research and participatory processes of citizens in science. It offers highly inclusive and creative teamwork methodologies, which allow anyone to propose ideas, analyse content, prototype and test solutions, among many other things. I hope this guide will inspire many people and that whoever reads it will learn something that will allow them to evolve and see the end users of the services as co-creators of them.”Blanca Guasch, design manager and co-design specialist in Science for Change and lead of the co-design methodologies in Cos4Cloud
The guide is structured in a very logical, didactic and understandable way and is full of illustrations that help to internalise and put everything that is explained into practice. It includes an introduction to the world of co-design: main definitions and mindsets of co-design and design thinking, as well as some tools to apply creative methodologies. Secondly, it explains the co-design methodology followed in Cos4Cloud, together with some key concepts, such as citizen science and citizen observatories. Finally, it provides a practical step-by-step guide to implementing this methodology.
The document concludes with an invitation to implement co-design processes in other software development projects based on the Cos4Cloud success story, which according to Blanca Guasch, “has been very challenging since it was the first time that I had to work with software developers highly specialised in their field and who had never done co-design before. On the other hand, it was also quite a challenge to mix co-design methodologies with agile methodologies and get results in the workshops to be useful for developers. Although initially difficult, I learned a lot from this enriching process, working as a team and always looking for solutions hand in hand with experts and non-experts!”
The results reflected in the guideline result from the efforts of the co-design team in Cos4Cloud:
- Karen Soacha, co-design coordination, ICM-CSIC
- Sonia Liñán, communication specialist, part of the coordination team, ICM-CSIC
- Blanca Guasch, design manager and co-design specialist, Science for Change
- Álex Amo, IT & data officer, Science for Change
- Miguel Hernández, circular economy and odour specialist, Science for Change
- Ángela Justamante, communication specialist, CREAF
- Claudia Fabó, engagement and communication, ECSA