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Using ethnography to tackle Cambodia's plastic bag waste

Lab Notes - February edition

The February edition of Lab Notes brings together inspiring videos, podcasts, articles and other content for public sector and social innovators around the world, including a field guide to using ethnography, how government is using behavioural science, and more...

This month's key lab picks

1. Field guide to innovation: this video from Channel NewsAsia presents an ethnographic study of excessive plastic bag usage in Cambodia, and shows how design methods have been used to deal with this complex local problem.

2. Indexing innovation: a number of useful indicators were recently published, mapping global trends in democracy (Economist Intelligence Unit), corruption (Transparency International) and inclusive growth (World Economic Forum).

3. How is secrecy bringing about greater democratic transparency in Iran? Read about mySociety’s work creating a service for citizens to ask questions of their elected representatives in a context of heavy state censorship.

4. From iodised bhindis to more affordable feminine care, Zarrar Khuhro invites us to learn from some of the most high-impact examples of low-budget innovation when exploring solutions for developing countries.

5. Barcelona is pioneering new forms of citizen engagement in policymaking, blending offline and online tools to crowdsource a local agenda for the collaborative economy. Read more on Shareable.

6. An experiment to trial the benefits of a six-hour workday for carers in Sweden found that the policy would be too costly to scale, despite improving well-being and patient care.

7. This podcast hears from Maya Shankar – an unlikely public sector innovator who started her career as a concert violinist but is now Chair of the White House’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Team. The New Yorker’s long read is about her journey to tackle widespread water contamination in an American city.

8. Digital social innovation: the Nominet Trust 100 highlights some of the most inspiring projects that are changing the world for the better using digital technologies; while the Centre for Acceleration of Social Technology presents six tenets for using tech for social good.

9. Which governments and communities across the globe are active in using design methods to solve complex challenges? Nesta and Paris-based lab La 27e Région have created an interactive map for you to explore, and to suggest additions.

10. The GovLab has launched a new website and practice guide for using data collaboratives to combine disparate sources of data and accelerate its potential to improve lives.

11. Government Technology provides four different perspectives from innovation labs in the US taking on risk to create public and private sector innovation.

12. Amid concerns about living space in Amsterdam, CityLab describes a local policy innovation that offers financial incentives for store owners to convert disused space into new homes.


Sophie Reynolds

Sophie Reynolds

Sophie Reynolds

Former Senior Researcher - Public and Social Innovation

Sophie was a Senior Researcher in Nesta’s Policy and Research unit. She is now Director of Sophie Reynolds Research & Consultancy.

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Theo Bass

Theo Bass

Theo Bass

Senior Researcher, Government Innovation

Theo was a Senior Researcher in Nesta's Research, Analysis and Policy Team

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