IMDI, An innovative tool to empower local services

2019 - Merit Award

Saint-Étienne, France


Collectif Palco / Talents croisés:

Béatriz Rico Straffon 

Charlotte Haefflinger 

Léa Pruykemaquere
Saint-Étienne, France
Professional Group


Palco is a collective of designers based in Saint-Étienne. It is a practice towards a more enthusiastic way of designing. In each of our projects, we try to provide human values inherent to a more local and social economy. This approach characterises our collective adventure.  Our projects aim at being optimistic and open to participation. Our collective tends to diversify its actions and its target public by relying on user-centered practices and the use of local resources. Some of the projects Palco has contributed to recently are : space and signage system for the Museum of Contemporary Art of Saint-Étienne, analysing urban inclusive signage for the creative neighborhood “La Manufacture” and designing and implementing a hybrid space to reactivate public space and the neighbourhood.



《IMDI, An innovative tool to empower local services》
Category | Public service design and design thinking in public policy
Group | Professional


IMDI is a social and digital innovation. It is the result of a series of experiences, and was launched after the idea won the first prize of Saint-Étienne’s Smart City Hackathon organized by the municipality of Saint-Étienne, private enterprises and the national program "Investments for the future/Sustainable City".



Our aim was to propose a true Smart City solution based in collective intelligence and collaborative values. IMDI is an innovative digital platform that tackles specifically the problem of local vacancy in city centers to reinvent and support local businesses and services. It aims to reinvent the implementation of local services to support and develop local economies by relying in local resources.



Through a thorough design research phase hand in hand with local activities, we were in contact with the different stakeholders concerned by the problem : premise owners or managers, local entrepreneurs, civil organisations, city agents and inhabitants.


3 key observations determined our solution: -The search of an empty local to install and activity is time consuming and complex because of a lack of clarity and identification of how the empty locals are managed. -A collective awareness of the importance of consuming differently and supporting local businesses towards a more circular economy. -The city had a fertile environment with actors willing to shape their city through innovant new types of occupation of the empty spaces : artisan workshops, exhibition spaces or even mixed use of space such as a café/laundry service. IMDI proposes a service in which : -An interactive map allows to visualise the location of empty premises by neighbourhood available to welcome new activities. -An information form that details the characteristics of the empty space : surface, state, rent or the type of activity that is possible to install. -Local entrepreneurs looking to install a new activity can directly contact owners or administrators. -Local entrepreneurs can post their project to look for new ideas or look for support from the community.


The solution was developed around 3 main values driven by the common interest and a more efficient public service to manage the problem of empty premises in city centers. IMDI is therefore: -A single tool for sharing information for the benefit of citizens. It reunites all the information in one single place making the implementation of a new activity easier. -A true Smart City solution, a digital tool that shares information, assembles actors and accelerates the process to participate in the local economy. -A tool designed for and with our 3 main users from a deep understanding of their needs to create a simplified connection between the 3 key actors : entrepreneurs, habitants and owners/administrators of empty premises.


IMDI’s first version was launched in October 2019 with the support of the Municipality of the City of Saint-Étienne through their diverses departments, and the National program “Investment for the future, Sustainable City”. IMDI has been granted a new subsidy in order to further develop the tool. The Municipality of the city of Saint-Étienne has found in IMDI the potential of a digital tool that can trigger a more social and circular economy.

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