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By 2030, 40 percent of India will be urban. Urban areas marked by high population density and interaction can foster innovation and productivity. But they can equally stress existing physical and social infrastructures - from transport and water systems to traditional livelihoods and forms of cultural engagement. Informal settlements and slum areas form a large part of most Indian cities; people in these settlements are typically the most vulnerable to climate and other shocks.

Technological innovation in urban areas can help create systems for more efficient resource consumption, as captured by the idea of smart cities, but this will also require a change in social behaviour and cultural values. Equally, it will be important to look at existing community-based adaptive mechanisms for resilience and innovation. Cities only reach their full potential when they became healthier places to live. Cities are fundamentally about people and their interactions. What kind of interactions do we want, and how do we facilitate them?

Our Future of Cities initiative focuses on three themes: Resilience, Technology, & Culture. How do we design cities that are resilient to shocks and changes; that represent an equitable distribution of technology gains; and that are thriving centers for cultural and civic participation?

Project Urban Living Lab (PULL)

1. What is an ‘urban living lab’?

Urban living labs (ULL) are early-stage ‘experimentation gardens’ for incubating urban solutions. ULL provides a platform for residents, governments, private actors and knowledge institutions to design, test and fine-tune socio-technical innovation to address urban challenges, in the real-life laboratory of cities and neighbourhoods.

2. Who is doing it?

Project Urban Living Lab (PULL), based in Panaji, is India's first ULL. PULL is being set up by Tandem Research, Oxford Policy Management, and The Resources and Energy Institute (TERI) in partnership with Imagine Panaji Smart City Development Limited and with the support of the Royal Danish Embassy in India.

3. Approach

  • Co-creating urban solutions with citizens
  • Experimenting, testing and implementing socio-technical innovation
  • Working in multi-stakeholder setting with citizens, governments, private-actors and knowledge institutions
  • Setting up geographically embedded, real-life ‘laboratories’ in neighbourhoods and cities
  • Evolving multi-disciplinary approaches to knowledge creation and learning

PULL will address issues of urban biodiversity, water-body management, mobility, data-driven governance and planning and climate action.