Understanding the TRANSCEND Toolbox: Introducing the “Game”

Recently, the TRANSCEND project delivered the TRANCEND Toolbox version 2, with various methods in it:

 

Some organizations are already using the Toolbox, like the Austrian Red Cross, who used the Toolbox to organize workshops with citizens to discuss disaster resilience and to discuss how a specific mobile application (Team Österreich) can support them; or DISSS, who used the Toolbox to organize workshops with youth workers and with youth, to discuss the risks of criminality and to explore ways to prevent criminality in the city of Mechelen, Belgium.

Others, however, are unaware of the Toolbox, and of the advantages of using these methods. Below, we will first provide some talking points that you can use to facilitate conversations about organizing societal engagement and citizen involvement. After that, we will introduce a Board Game as an easy and accessible way to get acquainted with some of the key elements of the Toolbox. The overall goal is to promote societal engagement and citizen involvement in the domain of security technology.

Societal engagement and citizen involvement

Based on prior research (Steen & Nauta, 2020), we can provide a list of pros and cons of organizing societal engagement and citizen involvement (see also: TRANSCEND Toolbox, pp. 17-18):

  • Outside-in orientation, i.e. a better understanding of concerns and interests in society, e.g. of the problems that people encounter, which can help to generate better solutions;
  • Alignment, between the organizations working in the project and concerns and interests in society, especially with citizens’ needs; and
  • Clarity, e.g., about the problem or the direction to search for solutions, within the project or the organizations involved, and hence better or faster decision making.

 

Of course, these methods also bring costs and potential risks, such as the following:

  • Effort in terms of time and budget, commitment and expertise—but with the right methods, this can be done efficiently and effectively;
  • Complexity, because multiple viewpoints and multiple aspects need to be taken into account—with good care, this can, however, be managed appropriately; and
  • Expectations: different stakeholders’ expectations will need to be managed—with some effort and care, this can be done, so that relationships, collaboration and trust can grow!

 

You can use these topics to start and facilitate a conversation about organizing societal engagement in your organization, and facilitate collaborate, e.g., between citizens, CSOs, industry partners, and local government. Critically, these methods can be used in all stages of innovation, going from problem-setting (What, exactly, is the problem that we want to focus on and address; for whom is this a problem; in what sense is this a problem?) to solution-finding (What types of solutions do we want to explore; how can these be realized and implemented and used, in practice?). Ideally, problem-setting and solution-finding are organized as an iterative and participatory process—building on the tradition of human-centred design, which is relatively in the domain of security technology. Please note also that those ‘solutions’ do not need to be technological solutions; they can very well entail new policies or new working processes and collaborations (‘social innovation’). In all phases, it is critical to learn about, and indeed to better understand, citizens’ experiences, perspectives, and concerns.

A Board Game, to get acquainted with the Toolbox

Now, in order to enable more people to use the Toolbox, we were looking for ways to enable people to get acquainted with some key elements of the Toolbox. And so we developed … a Board Game.

First, it is not a fully-fledged Board Game; there has only very little game mechanics and only one round. But that serves its purpose! A group of 3-8 people can sit around a table, put the Board Game in the middle and play one round, in 30-60 minutes. It is a low-threshold, visually attractive and ‘hands-on’ way to get started with the TRANSCEND Toolbox. ​

Obviously, the first step is to get people, with different backgrounds, different roles, and different perspectives around the table. For example, somebody from the local government, somebody with a technology background, somebody responsible for safety and security policies, maybe somebody from a CSO or NGO, maybe some ‘ordinary citizens’, somebody with a research background, and somebody to facilitate the game play. Then follow four steps, of 5-15 minutes each:

  1. Discuss and articulate the problem that they want to focus on—for whom is this a problem and in what sense is this a problem? ​The purpose of problem-setting is to promote a shared understanding and to establish focus and scope. There are ‘Problem(s)’ cards available, to facilitate discussion. ​
  2. Discuss and explore potential solutions—these can involve both technology and social innovation, e.g., new working processes or ways to collaborate. The purpose is to find viable and feasible solutions. There are ‘Solution(s)’ cards, to facilitate discussion.
  3. Discuss concerns and interests—which can be different for different stakeholders; or they can have different emphases or priorities. It is critical to make room also for ‘marginal’ or ‘minority’ concerns and interests. There are ‘Interests’ cards, to facilitate discussion. Participants can organize these, from ‘top priority’ to ‘less urgent’.
  4. Select appropriate methods to involve societal stakeholders and citizens in the innovation process. Ideally, they participate early-on, so their experiences, needs, ideas and concerns can be taken into account most effectively. There are ‘Methods’ cards, to help to organize such meetings, very practically.

 

We would like to invite you to try-out this Board Game. Please have a look at this PDF. You can always contact us for help playing this Board Game—and, of course, for help in exploring and implementing the methods in the TRANSCEND Toolbox!

If you’re interested in finding out more, please feel free to contact us at contact@transcend-project.eu.

Author: Marc Steen, TNO