Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh from above

New Course: Policy Innovation Lab

In fall 2019, Metro21: Smart Cities Institute is partnering with the Policy Innovation Lab, a new initiative at CMU’s Heinz College The Policy Innovation Lab is based on the premise of user-centered research through human-centered design. The goal is to connect students with actual policy challenges and through an agile, design-driven framework to rapidly create solutions to those challenges.

Co-taught by Professor Christopher Goranson and Metro21 Executive Director, Karen Lightman, students will investigate smart city policy challenges across different municipalities around the world. Students will work to solve pressing challenges for Metro21’s deployment partners by redefining the problem in terms of understanding the affected users of systems, conducting user-centered research, designing solutions, testing those same solutions, and iteratively improving those outcomes.

The target outcomes of the initiative are unique and customized to embrace both the needs of the problem sets as well as the skills of the students. Students will be expected to embrace a culture that expects and encourages rapid iteration, express a willingness to fail early in order to discover a solution that ultimately works, and a flat structure that provides students with an opportunity to deliver for our government partners.

In the course, Metro21 will prompt students to explore many facets of smart cities including: policy ethics, diversity and technology and their implications to Pittsburgh and the world. The course will apply some methodologies commonplace in industry like agile, design-thinking, and open source to deliver products and services that have the potential to live on beyond the course.