From AMI@Work Communities Wiki
 The C@R Integrated Project: Fostering Rural Development Through Living labs Open Innovation
C@R, an Integrated Project under the 6th Framework Project, aims to boost the introduction of Collaborative Working Environments (CWE) as key enablers catalyzing rural development. According to this strategic goal, the C@R Integrated Project identifies, develops and validates ICT-based innovation strategies to cope with actual barriers jeopardizing the sustainable development in rural areas. To achieve this priority objective, C@R advances on the specification, development, test and validation of a powerful and flexible worker-centric collaborative platform that will significantly enhance the capabilities of rural inhabitants, both, @work and @life, thus leading to a better quality of life and a revalorisation of rural settings. From the technical standpoint, C@R addresses three layers of innovations: (1) Rural Living Labs applications and user environments, (2) Software Collaborative Tools, and (3) Collaborative Core Services.
 C@R: Seven Living Labs
The C@R project has started September 2006 and will be completed by end of 2009. It is now in its second half and has established its foundations: rural constituencies, prototypes of collaboration tools, and initial examples of experimentation and innovation fostering rural development. All of this supported by continuing work on platform architecture facilitating interoperability and customization. Here is a flash overview of current progress in the Rural Living Labs.
 Sekhukhune Living lab
Sekhukhune Living Lab, in South-Africa, has concentrated on supporting innovations in procurement and logistics, stock management and knowledge sharing to support e.g. the retail supply chain and informal trade. An extended user community was developed, including so-called “infopreneurs’ who mediate between customers and suppliers. A platform architecture is being implemented supporting a collaborative procurement and logistics scenario.
Coordinated by: Rudi de Louw and Christian Merz, SAP AG
 Frascati Living lab
Frascati Living Lab focuses on business incubation support in exploiting space technologies and precision farming. It was established a collaboration portal enabling users to access services and tools to support the business incubation process. A regional community of interest including key stakeholders has been formed which acts as user group. Cooperation with Ecospace has resulted into the integration of collaborative workspace tools to support the community of interest.
Coordinated by: Fabio Bertoldi, ESRIN-ESA, Frascati
 Homokhátság Living lab
Homokhátság Living Lab in Hungary concentrates on developing an agricultural collaborative working environment. To that end a wireless mesh network has been deployed. The user setting is a large cooperative of farmers. The Living Lab develops applications such as orders and offers management, making predictions, and innovative services such as collaborative logistics. A program of testing, validation and enhancing the tools has started. A collaboration with Sekhukhune Living Lab has emerged.
Coordinated by: Vilmos Bilicki, University of Szeged
 Aboland Living Lab
Region Aboland Living Lab in Finland works on two innovation scenarios: using e-democracy tools for local government in distributed settings, and mobile direct sales. The e-democracy pilot is in the launch phase and different technologies such as secure and trusted authentication, single sign on and distributed workspaces including conferencing are being integrated in a portal infrastructure. First user tests are being carried out integrating document management into community intranet by municipal administrative units. The pilot is strongly connected with changes in legislation and provides an example of social innovation as well.
Coordinated by: Patrizia Hongisto, Helsinki School of Economics, CKIR
 Vysocina Living Lab
The Vysocina Living Lab in Czech Republic is based on a strong community of stakeholders coordinated by the Wirelessinfo association. It focuses mainly on innovations in using and exchanging geo-data. One of the priorities is the support of spatial planning and decision-making. The living Lab has worked on several collaboration applications e.g. for landscape planning, and experiments various technologies such as GIS, web services and metadata systems.
Coordinated by: Petr Horak and Karel Charvat, Wirelessinfo
 Soria Living Lab
Soria Living lab in the Burgos region in Spain works with local entrepreneurs and emerging SMEs in developing innovative projects to create new local business. Although it addresses tourism and emergency management as well, its primary focus is on the mycological sector, in particular the license acquisition and validation scenario. Mobile technologies are being tested. Several working prototypes have been developed demonstrating the platform architecture, and an extensive set of collaboration services have been designed. Currently, trials for validation are in progress.
Coordinated by: Juan Carlos Llorente Rodriguez, TRAGSA Group
 Cudillero Living lab
Cudillero Living Lab in Spain is working on innovative collaboration applications and infrastructures to improve the fishery processes, in particular the logistics and information exchanges between fishing boats and auctions. It has built up a community of stakeholders including fishers, wholesalers, retailers and government employees, which is involved in developing and testing the applications. A communications infrastructure has been set up based on wireless networks and satellite technologies. Work on platform development has progressed, and initial prototypes are available. A strong collaboration with Soria Living lab has emerged.
Coordinated by: Monica Valenzuela, TRAGSA Group
 Living Labs Methodologies in C@R
 Living labs as Innovation environments - the role of Action Research
Contributed by: Hans Schaffers, Helsinki School of Economics - CKIR, and Javier Garcia Guzman, TRAGSA
Living Labs are effective mechanisms for enabling innovation initiatives in wide settings based on user-centric approaches with the perspective of user led co-creation. The C@R approach to developing and implementing Rural Living Labs is characterized by a pragmatic attitude in tailoring the approach to the specific local situation, in order to achieve a real impact for the rural environment and create value for stakeholders.
The first step of this approach consists of creating the innovation setting that must be composed of all communities, end-users and stakeholders that should be involved in the innovation process of the considered setting. This means, in a practical way, tailoring to the social and political context, the local aims and interests, the available infrastructure, and willingness of local partners to work together. It is important to pay due attention to the process of building local partnerships and commitment, to prepare the basic foundations in terms of infrastructure and attitude, and starting with limited experimenting on simple use cases in order to create momentum for change and be able to learn more effectively. For example the Frascati Living Lab has established a wide community of interest to support regional innovation and business incubation.
Once the innovation setting is established, the innovation activities proceed through means of iterative cycles that can be called interventions including field experimentations. Each intervention consists of the identification of a problem to be solved by the intervention (e.g. a business process to be improved), the formulation of an hypothesis for its solution (e.g. how collaboration tools may enable new processes and stimulate entrepreneurship), action planning and taking for development of the innovation required (user-driven prototyping and testing) and, finally, the joint evaluation of the solution achieved and the identification of new required innovation areas that will permit the Living Lab evolution.
We have found this “action research’ approach, originating from the social sciences and already used in information systems design, a promising participative research methodology to contribute to this approach due to its similarities with the pragmatic strategy selected for our C@R approach.
The realization of interventions means that a rural Living Lab is evolving over time, inviting for continuous feedback and enhancements until its full promise has been achieved. Relevant feedback will be achieved only if an effective and active Living Lab user’s involvement is achieved. The “user” of the living Lab consists of a wide spectre of stakeholders, not only end-users but also businesses and representatives of local communities and agencies. The approach selected for C@R focuses on two levels of involvement: at the strategic level of partnerships, and at the operational level of initiating, using and enhancing concrete innovations.
The degree of user involvement is highly important for the Living Labs and determines the maturity stage of each Living Lab. Less mature Living Labs are characterized by end-users participating only in limited-scale experimentations. In the most mature phase, the activity of the Living Lab is characterized by user-lead co-creation of innovative solutions, more extensive field experimentation and in the end a tailored Living Labs business model and full user experience may result.
In the end the proof of the pudding is in the eating. So far we already witness change at the rural level, where partners are working together to agree on strategies and objectives. We have prototypes running and stakeholders involved in testing. The current drive within C@R is towards really creating value for all Living lab stakeholders.
 Architecture integration and validation activities in C@R
Contributed by: Christian Merz, SAP AG and Hans Schaffers, Helsinki School of Economics - CKIR
A key objective of C@R is to develop a platform architecture which allows interoperability of services and tools and customization of collaborative working environments. Interoperability implies the capability of different collaboration tools - e.g. shared workspaces, mobile working applications and their underlying platforms - to make use of common semantics to exchange information. Customization means the tailoring of a generic collaborative working environment to specific needs and characteristics of local users and their existing work environments. In order to fulfill such interoperability and customization objectives, the platform architecture must enable the integration and sharing of various services and tools in different contexts. This way, other providers are stimulated to develop additional services and tools, thus enriching the collaborative work environment.
So far, the development of prototypes of collaborative applications in the Living Labs and the definition of services and tools has progressed relatively separated. The user driven work on collaborative applications has resulted into a variety of software prototypes. Examples are the collaborative procurement and logistics applications in Sekhukhune Living Lab, the geographical planning applications in Czech Living Lab, fishery applications in Cudillero and collaborative farming in Homokhátság Living Lab. In parallel, much work has been carried out on defining the collaborative services, and on developing mechanisms to orchestrate these services into tools based on architecture principles supporting customization and interoperability.
The issue now is how these streams of work can be brought together, and how the architecture principles can be implemented and validated in the Living Labs experimentation environments to ensure the fulfillment of user- and system-level requirements. Our solution is based on an Open Service Oriented Architecture (OSOA) and supports interoperability as well as distributed development and deployment of software components used to realize end user applications. The key approach that we follow is based on a layered model:
- At the level of users, collaborative applications are being developed and experimented. Such applications are based on modules - software collaboration tools - which are customized to local users needs. For example, a portal to provide incubation support (Frascati) or to enable clustered ordering when doing collaborative procurement (Sekhukhune).
- The Software Collaboration Tools are integrating and making available so-called Collaborative Core Cervices (for example a single sign on service, group management, conferencing services, GIS handling) partly through Orchestration Capabilities such as provided by a collaborative workspace (e.g. version control, document sharing) and by context awareness functionalities (e.g. user profile, tracking behavior).
- The C@R architecture enables “horizontal” sharing of a common library of Collaborative Core Services and Orchestration Capabilities across multiple Living Labs.
Web 2.0 tools such as Mashups, Wikis and RSS feeds are added to improve and simplify the user interface. For example, in Sekhukhune, a GIS application combines information from different data sources (cartographic, GPS, etc) into an integrated tool. Messaging and chat can be added as well. Such an application can be shared easily by other Living labs as well, and data from different Living labs can be integrated.
Currently, we start experimenting and validating this concept. Architecture implementation provides the basis on which user-centred applications development in the Living labs is taking place. We have implemented a working model where “vertical groups” are combining our competencies in the domains of architecture, services, tools, applications and user environments for each Living Lab. These groups are creating the prototypes, are starting up the phase of user-driven applications development, and are experimenting and validating the tools in user-centric environments through a series of cycles.