We’re SiG@Waterloo’s Simulation and Modeling Team. We believe software has a strong role to play in supporting social innovation. We have an ambitious agenda: to give decision-makers the tools to explore the impacts of their actions before they are enacted.

There has been a recent explosion in interest in what are called “labs.” Labs take different forms, but share a common commitment to support social change. SiG@Waterloo is working on a particular kind of lab, that we’re calling a “Social Innovation Lab.” (Read more on Social Innovation Labs here: http://sig.uwaterloo.ca/feature/social-innovation-labs). A key element of this unique form of lab will be the use of visualisation and simulation software. Many systems-change processes already use mapping and prototyping to help participants to understand and engage with systems. Advances in technology have made it possible to imagine developing software that would allow decision-makers to interact with game-like models of the systems they are working within.

Through this blog, we will share what we’re learning about how to develop models that are powerful additions to a Social Innovation Lab.

We hope that the blog will a) make a case for how and why modeling can be useful, and b) explain some of the “how-tos” for developing models.

Look out for the following categories of post:

  1. Design Principles: Clarifying this approach, where and why it might be useful, and defining (with examples) some of the terms we’re using.
  2. Prototypes: Here we will introduce the reader to models and prototypes we’ve produced. Posts on prototypes may include videos giving a quick overview of the features of the prototype, and our assessments of the strengths and weaknesses of the prototype, and how to download or play with the model. In cases where we have had an opportunity to test the prototype with a group, we may also explore how the model was useful and the kinds of questions it elicited in participants.
  3. Games: Our analysis of existing simulation games, including: How might this game be useful as is? What might it do well/less well for exploring social innovation? What does it teach us that we can use in developing other simulation games?
  4. Tutorials: “How-tos” – Step-by-step tutorials, some fairly technical, on things we’ve found useful in prototyping.
  5. Stories: First person adventures in social innovation from our team members, either from their own travels, or from events hosted by the team.

If you wish to contribute a piece to Social Innovation Simulation, please see our Guidelines for Contributors.

Core Team

Kirsten Robinson

Mark Tovey

Nathan Wilson

Madigan Kim

Chaifnya Dogra

Brianna Smrke

Benjamin Carr

Steve Williams

Terry Stewart