Future Days – City Scanning

As part of the first day at Future Days in Lisbon this week, I was invited to conduct a city scanning exercise

Futures Days is a festival for futures and systemic thinkers, innovation-seekers, creatives, purpose-driven organizations and policy-makers to collectively create the futures of urban lives, equitable societies through and beyond technology.

Working with the city of Lisbon and the Câmara Municipal de Lisboa, Future Days will convey the insights of the festival into an annual report with actionable opportunities for the city.

We had to design for a mix of attendees; some of them Lisbon natives, some long-time residents, whilst others were visiting the city for the first time. Some people therefore would be discovering a city for the first time, whilst others would want to see familiar scenes with new eyes.

To help people do this, we made a Portuguese version of the Obliquiscope (the original English version is inside the Regenerative Design Field Kit), which every participant received in their bag upon registration.

We had realised that we also had the opportunity to use the foyer next to registration to introduce people to the task ahead in small groups, so we made a little video to do that in a couple of hours.

Finally, as we were sending out groups on seven separate tours around Marvila, with different facilitators (Anna Bertmark, Julia Spieß, Bianca Weinberg, Mariana Reis, Rafaela Englert, Mariana Ribeiro & Christina Grace Bifano), we created a quick ‘Signals Grid’ worksheet for the groups to use in smaller sub-groups.

This was a new thing I had not tried before, but combining the different Focus Areas of the Future Days initiative, based on the four scanning layers (loosely based on Richard Buchanan’s Four Orders of Design) seemed useful. It gave people a quick map across which they could check what signals they were seeing, what else they might relate to, and just generally gave a prompt to consider more than just what was it front of them.

After the tours, we invite all groups to collect the signals they deemed most interesting and important, as well as other more general reflections, on three simple Menti forms related to the theme. These will now act as the first building blocks for future exploration as we dive into the rest of Future Days.

Right, time to get back out into the city…