by Floridea Di Ciommo, Andrés Kilstein, and Gianni Rondinella at cambiaMO | changing MObility
The Communities of Practices (CoPs) are considered a key tool, since they are a fundamental instrument to produce insights from users, non-users and stakeholders of the INDIMO project, in a participatory and horizontal way. The aim of the CoPs, developed through the five project pilots of the INDIMO project, is to collect insights into the needs and requirements of those involved in the pilots (e.g., citizens, policymakers, operators and developers), by developing common knowledge and sharing experiences. The CoPs are a space for open debate and exchange of knowledge, and also offer an optimal scenario for validating different results that emerged from previous stages of research.
The main takeaways from these CoPs is the relevance of training activities to facilitators, helping them them to acquire the skills needed for running meetings effectively. The implementation of collective and bilateral training activities should be organized. Because of the restrictions induced by the pandemic and the new role of remote interaction, the dynamics of CoPs had to be reconfigured to fit exclusively into the new virtual platforms. For this, the mutual support among facilitators of different CoPs was important to share guidance and face obstacles together. Therefore, a tool as the Meta-CoPs was implemented. During this process, the stabilization of the CoPs, and the consistent participation of most of its members, allowed for a better functioning of these groups. As the number of meetings increased, people found themselves more confident sharing experiences and felt empowered to contribute their own knowledge.
The CoPs were appropriate tools for incentivizing participation and creating amicable environments for the management of the differing views and personalities They facilitated discussion on a range of topics, from the users’ requirements to the Universal Digital Design tools, in a way that reflected the broad views of a wide range of stakeholders participating. Some learning-by-doing techniques have been implemented with cambiaMO, who participated in various INDIMO CoPs meeting and coordinated them in local languages when it was possible and necessary. This all happened in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, which created a great challenge for the implementation. Almost all CoPs had to be carried-out on a digital platform with some stakeholders, including users and non-users’ participants, often unfamiliar with such digital tools. This was the case of older people for whom it was often the first time engaging in an online conference. Even many of the stakeholders and researchers did not have previous experience with this kind of format..
In summary, CoPs proved flexible to facilitate the participation of a large array of stakeholders and to be used for different purposes, includingopen debate, role-playing with structured dialogue,brainstorming, the validation of results of previous research stages, the application of different tests and assessment exercises. Thanks to this versatility, the CoP has turned into an essential component of the INDIMO research and will probably be considered in future projects.