SandpitMx :Transforming slums into smart neighbourhoods.

On September 19th, 26 selected social innovators from a pool of 400 applicants came together to work on projects that would help generate the transformation of slums into smart neighbourhoods. There was an interesting universe of peers from Guadalajara, Mexico City, Tepic, Oaxaca, Monterrey, London, Madrid and one from Canada; me.


The workshops throughout the week were run by Knowinnovation from Barcelona, and an excellent team of facilitators from universities in Bucaramanga and Buffalo, as well as a team of mentors from the Multilateral Investment Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank and Innovation Secretary of State of Jalisco.

Team work

The heart of the workshop was to work with problem identification and data during the first two days with some guidance on the overall performance of the projects and teams. The teams and projects would be working at different stages could be very different from those arriving at the final presentation, a team could change its members from one moment to another, change the project they were working, disappear or create a new team. The only constraint was to present a project that was at least by a team of 2.

Final project

We gathered six people total into the project we were developing. We proposed many projects from territorial restructure for irregular and illegal land settlements, to nomad gardens for people who are moving around because they have no place of their own to live, along with gardens in containers for people who have very limited space. We fell under the same problem on and on: there was no information about who lived where, the main problematic, mapping of the expansion of the neighbourhood, etc. We understood it was a problem experienced not only by us, but also governments and social organizations of different scale around the world. We cannot intervene if we do not know where the people are, who they are, what they need or what they are doing.


After at least two sessions of mentoring, the project we decided to present with the team was the project RADAR: a way to make visible the invisible. RADAR would detect with social participation the particular problems each neighbourhood, its structures and develop the information needed to address this problem. It would make problematic and visible information through a computer platform to link social organizations, government and citizens to help in its solution. The information generated in the care of the problem becomes integrated into the platform and is used by other actors working in the area.


This project was the result of a methodology of a team that knew how to resolve their differences and build a proposal collectively, and integrate the knowledge and different experiences around an idea. This workshop tested our ability to work with uncertainty and reach a shared vision of the solution. An hour before delivering the proposal, we were still undergoing the process of consolidating the team. However, in the presentation we arrived and left as a solid team, our reviewers that thought the idea had great potential pleasantly surprised us. Even though it was not subject to count on funding MIF, it aroused the interest of the judges from the Secretary of Innovation and Cisco systems for the contribution to build the data platform to neighbourhood scale. Therefore we are still working and developing RADAR to help governments, organizations and people around the world.


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