School Highlights

The Florida Planning Living-Lab Network™: An Initiative by a Ph.D. student

Living-Labs, short for living laboratories, are a new global phenomenon that has moved the act of knowledge creation and research from the four wall laboratories to portions of the territory. The term living-lab has three connotations, first, it is referred to a participatory and dynamic research method; second, to the setting where the research takes place; and third, to the project that takes place in this setting. Therefore the city, community, neighborhood, etc., that agree to participate in a project implementing this methodology, is defined as a living-lab. As a whole, this environment supposes the interaction of different stakeholders, such as, public agencies, businesses, non-profits, academia and the end users.

Under the tutelage of Dr. Jaap Vos, Director of the School of Urban and Regional Planning, Mariana O'Brien, a doctoral student in Public Administration is conducting research on Living-Labs and Public Administration. As a result, the Florida Planning Living-Lab Network ™ program has been launched.

The Florida Planning Living-Lab Network ™ is a program of the Veritas Initiative at Florida Atlantic University School of Urban and Regional Planning. It is a platform of collaboration that brings together and involves all stakeholders, such as end-users, researchers, industrialists, policy makers, etc., at the earlier stage of the innovation process. Living-labs move research out of laboratories into real-life contexts to stimulate innovation. This allows citizens to influence research, design and product development. Users are encouraged to cooperate closely with researchers, developers and designers to test ideas and prototypes. Functioning as Public-Private Partnerships, especially at regional and local levels, living-labs provide advantages over "closed labs": they stimulate new ideas, provide concrete research challenges and allow for continuous validation of research results.


  1. Study the mechanism of operation of the living-lab networks.
  2. Based on the first objective, create, and implement the Florida Living-Lab Network ™
  3. Formulate city planning projects using the open innovation paradigm and the living-lab methodology to develop new planning practices and theory.
  4. Introduce the concept living-lab as a new setting and methodology of research that can be used for development of the theory and practice of public policy and administration.


Currently the Florida Planning Living-Lab Network ™ is developing two funded projects: the Abacoa Living Laboratory and the Wellington 2060 Living-Laboratory. The goal is to expand the network throw-out Florida.

  1. The Abacoa Living Laboratory is a project in partnership with FAU, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and the Abacoa Partnership for Community. It includes three projects: 1) a visitor center, 2) bio-med business development, and 3) development of metrics of new urbanism.
  2. The Wellington 2060 Living Laboratory is a three year project in collaboration between the municipality of Wellington and FAU. The projects correspond to the eight concepts for the future developed in the Wellington 2060 vision statement. They will be handled individually and according to the Municipality priority order: Equestrian Community, Medical Arts District, Housing Reinvestment, Town Center, Village Center, Main Street, Flex Zoning District, and Sustainable Development Element projects.

The Florida Planning Living-Lab Project™ will be the host of the Abacoa and Wellington 2060 Living Laboratories to provide professional support for the creation and development of the projects. All the stakeholders such as, the municipality, FAU, developers, academia and end users will participate in the process of co-creation, through a collaborative platform. This process will ensure fluid communication between all the members of the Living Laboratory. The Living-Lab methodology encourages participation of government, public, corporate, not-for-profit sectors and public citizens. The implementation can be done either by public dialogue sessions or conducting public opinion research using on-line panels. The key concept is 'co-creation' and put the 'users' at the very heart of the research. All participants will become members and have access to the web site to share their comments.

At the present time there are two more cities interested in participating in The Florida Planning Living-Lab Network™. For more information you can visit:

Content Last Updated on: February 21, 2014
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