The Smart Social Strategy lab is a multidisciplinary lab for practical research that designs and redefines the content of public policy in general, and socio-spatial policy in particular, and is directed by Dr. Meirav Aharon Gutman.
The lab’s partners are municipal authorities, non-profit organizations, and local communities, that together develop spaces and apply innovative processes for urban planning and management, based on models of collaborative organizations (co-production). The lab provides a connection between a toolbox identified with the paradigm of the “smart cities,” and advanced public participation practices. It addresses two central deficiencies in these fields: on the one hand, the “smart city” paradigm focuses primarily on urban infrastructure and does not focus on social matters as an integral part of planning and running cities, nor is it capable of producing and managing local knowledge provided by residents. On the other hand, the existing “smart cities” model makes little use of technological tools to advance processes of public participation.
The Smart Social Strategy lab is both a place and an idea:
The idea is to develop an innovative toolbox for designing urban policy that responds to socio-economic objectives.
As a place, it is a situation room supported by advanced technologies that enables a smart decision-making process.
By combining two integrated operating spheres – a virtual space that adopts the principles of the Web 2.0, and a physical space, based on interactive and immersive platforms – the lab develops a toolbox to promote urban planning, management, and development.
Subjects developed and implemented by the lab:
Digital Twin: a digital translation of the physical world into an advanced GIS model. Our lab emphasizes building visual models that enable managing and predicting social problems.
Social GIS (a socio-geographic information lab): using GIS tools to map qualitative and quantitative data concerning social and economic issues, and depicting them visually in an accessible manner for use by decision makers and interested local parties.
Civic Monitoring: using the most advanced technological tools to enable local residents to create civic monitoring processes for urgent social and economic issues.
Decision Environment Space Design: characterizing, designing, and building decision-making spaces, based on an immersive interaction experience, in order to redesign discussion spaces and encourage the accessibility of social issues for all parties involved.
Participatory Design: the lab develops and implements design tools and methodologies that actively involve a group of stakeholders: clients, end-users, entrepreneurs, and others, in order to develop products and policies that comply with the demands of all stakeholders.
Human-Computer Interaction: the lab develops and designs physical and virtual platforms for multiparty decision-making processes, based on interaction and digital tools.
Data Drive Simulation: developing and designing simulations and interfaces that enable decision-making for social issues based on multiple data sources.
The location of the lab and its technologies:
The lab is located in the Hadarion building (23 Balfour Street, Haifa), at the heart of the Hadar neighborhood. The lab supports the UX-User Experience of two synchronized technologies: an immersive experience, obtained by projection onto an eight-meter concave wall, which is part of the oval structure of the space; and an interactive experience, created by using a touch-table, capable of recognizing objects as large as 120 by 150 centimeters, that corresponds with the traditional interactive sand table. In addition, the lab has a joystick system and remote controls that enable movement and roaming within the model.
The lab’s team:
Lab directors: Dr. Meirav Aharon Gutman and Arch. Batel Yossef Ravid
Lab staff: Zohar Weiss, Anne Axel, Shai Sussman, Eilat Maoz, Dr. Raz Weiner, Ron Shalom, Yarden Diskin
The lab’s website can be accessed via this link.