Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA)

How to harness the collective intelligence of citizens, government employees and international experts to realize the vision of a sustainable Dubai?

Initial Challenge

Initial Challenge

How can we leverage the collective intelligence of Dubai’s citizens to drive forward the vision of sustainability, innovation and happiness?


J2C was commissioned by DEWA - Dubai Electricity and Water Authority - to cocreate the UAE Innovation week 2015, an annual national Event for all government authorities in the UAE to start, promote and showcase innovative solutions, programs and initiatives across all sectors.

For this project we put together a team of four Design Thinking experts, a researcher with special knowledge on micro-energy systems and an artist with a magical digital pen to visualize insights and ideas. After a 360° desk research on trends and developments primarily on energy and water issues we needed to get a good picture of the situation on the ground. Always looking for interesting stories to identify relevant challenges and opportunities we followed up on new leads, contacts and our own intuition. During this phase the team met with top-level executives of international companies and founders of tech startups, visited accelerator and incubator programs, discussed with government employees, visited local artists, hackers and designers in their studios and coworking spaces in remote factory buildings. After the research we synthesized our learnings and produced bitesize pieces of inspiration in the form of statements, projections on the walls, inspiration cards, illustrations and short video portraits as a foundation for creative and human centered solutions. During the Innovation Week’s program we created a save and inspiring environment in a geodetic dome outside of DEWA’s HQ to develop and test ideas and prototypes in fun and hands-on workshop sessions with over 75 participants.

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The process

In short we made a 4 step process consisting of:

  1. Defining the design challenge through 360° desk research on trends and developments in the water and energy sector.
  2. Identifying and diving into sources of inspiration on the ground - focus groups with government employees, in-depth interviews with experts, entrepreneurs and citizens of Dubai
  3. Synthesizing observations, interviews and information into workable insights
  4. Design Thinking Lab consisting of 3 workshops with the aim to explore opportunity areas, develop ideas and tangible prototypes
  5. Submit the ideas and prototypes generated throughout the project to the Mohammed bin Rashid smart majlis - an online platform that allows everyone to participate in building the future of Dubai.

Insight #1

The perception of ownership of ideas needs to shift from mine to ours.

Insight #2

It’s not only about consuming less. It’s more about utilities being more efficient.

Insight #3

Opening up data is an opportunity to develop ideas for innovative solutions, rather than a threat of losing face.

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