OMEGA-X methodology is based on five basic pillars of actuation that support horizontal operations and ensure synergies with relevant projects and initiatives. “User involvement and co-creation” is the fourth methodological pillar and involves the integration of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) approaches to maximize societal impact of OMEGA-X. The SSH approaches are particularly relevant for the implementation of the use cases.
As part of the methodological outline (Deliverable D2.1) a handbook for a human centred approach and user engagement activities was published in Autumn 2022 and is available as guidance for pilot leads and inspiration for related projects and initiatives.
Why a human-centred perspective to energy dataspace?
The urgency of a human-centred approach to energy systems is driven by several factors and movements:
In the first place – as the global geopolitical situation currently shows in dramatic ways- energy is a critical infrastructure that influences people’s everyday lives and life quality in a highly direct way.
Secondly, due to a need and political push for a climate-neutral Europe in 2050, the urge for European sovereignty, as well as technology advances, European citizens have become more dependent on electricity, for example for transportation and heating.
Thirdly, renewable energy production (as we also see with emerging new technologies, such as Edge computing, Edge AI, digital twins, etc,) provide a more distributed and decentralized landscape. Solar and wind energy can be produced locally, near citizens, and rely partly on an active role of citizens and communities.
Fourthly, the green energy transition demands an optimization through integration of the energy system and of data flows.
The creation of a dataspace for energy requires interoperability between sectors, and challenges existing value chains. New forms for collaboration and governance, changing roles of stakeholders, the increasing importance of ecosystems, all indicate that the energy transition should be understood in both socio technical and political terms. Energy systems are deeply intertwined with human affairs, from the daily lived practices and experiences of individuals, households, businesses and national cultural formations and imaginaries to global political economies, international security, and the deep structures of capitalism and democracy[₁] .
The adoption of a human-centred approach will help OMEGA-X, in particular the use case families to enhance understanding of possible barriers for adoption and implementation of data driven services and solutions, as well as for data sharing across sectors.
A human-centred approach aims at:
- Increasing quality of services and solutions, as they are adjusted to citizens and communities’ needs.
- Increasing awareness of diversity amongst users (gender, age, etc) and their (diverse) needs.
- Raising awareness of the various roles and changing roles of stakeholders and users: e.g. consumers can be public sector, citizens and SMEs, but the public sector can also act as regulator, and plays an important role for the alignment of services and solutions with local policies and strategies (societal impact).
- Enhancing our understanding of incentives and pathways for behavioural change of individuals and communities.
- Identifying possible barriers for data sharing that are related to values, local practices, geographical conditions, etc.
- Raising awareness of the local context, and the value OMEGA-X will bring to local communities.
- Raising awareness that data sharing across private and public sector needs to be GDPR compliant and can lead to ethical, privacy and security issues
- Raising awareness for the importance of governance issues, and the need to rethink organisational structures to optimise societal impact
- Empowering citizens and communities in the energy transition
The Omega-X handbook for user engagement builds on the learnings from the BRIDGE initiative, OMEGA-X sister projects, as well as other relevant projects and initiatives and outlines:
- Principles and practices for stakeholder engagement and empowerment of users in the energy transition.
- Identify potential sociocultural barriers for both data sharing across sectors and actors, and for the implementation of solutions and services in and across the various pilot sites.
- Assist the use case families/pilots in developing and implementing pathways to achieve societal impact.
The full handbook can be downloaded here
₁ Benjamin K. Sovacool, «Sociotechnical agendas: Reviewing future directions for energy and climate research,» Energy Research & Social Science, vol. 70, 2020.