Still Waiting for Disruption - Understanding Barriers to Access to Justice Technologies

Still Waiting for Disruption - Understanding Barriers to Access to Justice Technologies A Strategic Foresight Research Project

Exploring opportunities in legal technologies to foster Access to Justice for today and into the future. Legal technologies today are disrupting law firms and how they work, creating efficiencies, new services and new ways of working. However, Canada is largely still waiting to see this innovation address the deep access to justice challenges of people facing everyday legal problems. This project focuses on understanding the opportunities and challenges facing legal tech entrepreneurs in access to justice. At this point in the research project, we are interested in the perspectives and insights from the following: Legal professionals Professional intermediaries who assist others with legal questions and issues Legal Tech Innovators Members of the public who are or have been self-represented litigants.


The goal of this project is to open up new opportunities for positive legal tech impact on the access to justice crisis in Canada, by exploring the existing barriers to innovative entrepreneurship and building future models that support increased access to legal conflict resolution.


Tech disruption has arrived in the legal sector and has started to make a significant transformational impact. Legal tech innovations are creating customizable products, challenging the service monopoly historically held by a small number of large firms, introducing machine-driven contract review, case research and AI-supported legal analysis. For the most part, these innovations have been developed for law firms and in-house corporate legal departments with many big firms purchasing and embedding start-up technologies into their operations. While legal tech is improving lawyers’ workflow and business model, it is not yet improving people’s lives or access to legal conflict resolution on a larger scale.

This project is a partnership between: Super Ordinary Laboratory, OCAD University, and CALIBRATE Solutions. It is funded by The Law Foundation of Ontario. For more information, please contact

Tuesday, May 12, 2020 - 10:00am
Lab Member: 
Suzanne Stein

Beverly Dywan

Beverly has extensive international experience working with cultural institutions such as art galleries and museums. Her company Design in Three Dimensions has provided experience and exhibit design, as well as strategic planning work for museums in Canada, the United States, and Hong Kong.

She taught Industrial Design at OCA from 1991-1996, and 2013- present, and began teaching in the Inclusive Design Graduate Program in 2017.

Action Research & Knowledge Transfer Project: The Futures of Canadian Identities

This action research project had an explicit focus on co-creating and sharing generated knowledge and an experiential knowledge-transfer orientation, operating at multiple levels: Integrated team, buddy system between individual team members, workshops and active participation in design, analysis and conclusions. The experiential learning used a strategic foresight investigation of the futures of Canadian identities, which allowed the practice of various elements of the complexity toolkit.


1. How might we improve Canadian Heritage (PCH)'s capabilities to engage in the increasingly complex issues facing it?
2. How might PCH be better prepared for the possible evolutions of Canadian identities?


1. Provide PCH with a sound methodological approach – action research – in relation to the ways in which knowledge-sharing, -generation and -transfer are achieved.
2. Provide guidance to develop internal capacity related to ways to:
       • Reframe the chosen problem through the development of multiple futures;
       • Identify key challenges, insights and intervention points through an assessment of implications across these multiple futures; and importantly,
       • Use new, participatory and collaborative problem-solving approaches to deploy such insights and to inform and influence systems change that can improve PCH agility and resilience in the face of inevitable challenges associated with the emergent future.


To provide experiential learning of a number of complexity tools, a framework was needed that offered enough complexity to provide opportunities for using the various tools of the toolkit. Strategic Foresight offers such a wide framework.

The topic for the foresight investigation was selected such that it presented a topic directly related to the mandate of PCH, which enhances interest and incentive to pursue the topic itself rather than focusing on individual tools and their concepts.

The introduction of multiple futures and identities, was challenging enough to the established orthodoxy to reduce boredom and raise curiosity and engagement throughout the project.

The foresight investigation followed a modified 2x2 matrix method incorporating the participatory elements specific to the foresight practice at OCAD University.

In addition to the transfer of knowledge and capacity building, the project yielded 268 relevant signals of changes, a set of 14 trends, and an analysis of 12 underlying drivers. It also uncovered the top critical uncertain drivers for the PCH team and built 4 scenarios using the top two such uncertainties. Using the scenarios, a rich list of implications and a set of strategic perspectives were developed to assist the MTP process in articulating policies and strategies. 


One of the results from this project is that PCH hired 5 SFI students to look in more detail at process for embedding artists in policy development processes. This new project builds partially on the final report of this project. The PI of this project has been invited to be a member of the Steering Committee of the new project.
All artefacts of the foresight process as well as the final report are property of PCH, who can decide what to release publicly and when.

The following video was developed by PCH during the workshops conducted and was distributed to all workshop participants in English and French:

L’avenir des identités canadiennes (Français)
The Future of Canadian Identities (English)

Photo of Join Team at Workshop #1
Photo of Joint Team during break at Workshop #1
Monday, September 25, 2017 - 11:15am
Lab Member: 
Nabil Harfoush
Embed Video: 

Living City Report Card

Using the proprietary Megamap© process and foresight methods we supported TRCA in prioritizing and visualizing its complex data for the updated Living City Report Card. We also synthesized all major components in an 8’ x 4’ Megamap©.


  • Establish foresight-based criteria for prioritizing and selecting information for the Living City Report Card (LCRC)
  • Facilitating internal negotiations about priorities and messages among stakeholders
  • Identifying and profiling key target audiences for the LCRC communication
  • Facilitating articulation of cross-departmental strategic messages
  • Reviewing and processing selected data pre-visualization
  • Development of key visual concepts for LCRC
  • Deliver 15 one-page Infographics for the individual indicators of LCRC
  • Synthesize all Infographics in one Megamap©


How might TRCA prioritize, select, and synthesize key information from the wealth of data they have to optimize the effectiveness of its updated LCRC?

A Joint team from TRCA and OCAD’s Resilience Design Lab implemented the Living City Report Card project. We introduced TRCA team members to concepts of strategic foresight and co-designed a workshop for TRCA key staff, in which a foresight exercise was used to form a common vision of the possible futures. This common vision was then used as a basis to resolve differences in prioritizing data.

We led our colleagues at TRCA through the Megamap© process that helped them to identify and profile the intended target audience of LCRC, and negotiate the 50+ different messages of the various departments to a group of less than 10 priority messages supported by all groups.

Building on this strong collective understanding and objectives we reviewed and screened data submitted to support the common messages, proposed visual concepts to span all visualizations and developed 15 one-page inforgraphics for the indicators presented in the LCRC.  

Finally we synthesized all indicator visualizations into one 8’ x 4’ Megamap©

Visit the Living City Report Card website for more information.


Living City Report Card Mega Map
Living City Report Card Agriculture
Living City Report Card Fish
Living City Report Card Flood Risk
Living City Report Card Green Buildings
Living City Report Card Greenspace
Living City Report Card Natural Cover
Living City Report Card Stormwater Management
Living City Report Card Urban Forest
Living City Report Card Terrestrial Biodiversity
Living City Report Card Water Quality
Megamap Unveiling for Living City Report Card
Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 12:30pm
Lab Member: 
Nabil Harfoush

Alexander Manu Keynote: Starting From Scratch

Friday, June 16, 2017 - 8:30am to 9:45pm

Join Industrial Design Tenured Professor Alexander Manu at the Innovation Ignites! OCIC AGM & Symposium, a one-day event that seeks to bring together 100 leaders and change agents to imagine new possibilities for development innovation. 

11:30 am - 12:45 pm
Alexander Manu
Starting from Scratch

Provocative author, speaker and leading practitioner in the field of strategic foresight Alexander Manu, surveys the fast changing context for incumbent organizations in all market spaces where individuals are now empowered and now seek engagement with platforms that allow them to leave a mark, and to participate in the community of others.

Empowered people have discovered themselves as social beings, with agency to shape the world by all means available, affecting the experience of life itself. Empowered participation is motivating people to set new goals for engaging with life, to discover and create new experiences, to seek meaning and pleasure in actions conditioned only by the self desire to play in the social realm. This is the major provocation of the future, the transformation of all relationships, and how it will affect society, business, culture and consumption models.

As technology changes the structure of our life, it also changes the frameworks on which our experiences are built. To be providers of new meaning in this new framework, organizations must change their narrative and redefine their role within the story of each user; in other words, starting from scratch. Starting from scratch means drawing a clean line and imagining everything as it should be, not as an improvement of what is. The implication of this action does not mean that we forget where we come from, but it means that we create new roots, and ones not encumbered by the preexisting structures of our current social constructs, organization or habits. Having new roots implies effectiveness and efficiency, implies sustainability, as we have the opportunity to construct the structure in the right way from the beginning.

We are not fixing the old; we are maximizing the present. Starting from scratch permits us the freedom to design organizations or social structures that fit the place where they perform and take advantage of all the ingredients surrounding them. Starting from scratch is a challenge to one’s ability to create new images of self, constructing a new world from the inside out, as both a participant as well as a creature of it. These new images, and the artefacts they create in turn, are reflections of new life priorities, and the heights of existence we want to achieve through the new story. A new and inspiring ethos. The future as ethos has little to do with technology; it has only to do with what we want of ourselves.

See the full agenda here.

Venue & Address: 
Center for Social Innovation. 192 Spadina Avenue, Toronto. ON *This venue is wheelchair accessible

Alexander Manu - Opening Keynote at AdTech2017 Toronto

Alex Manu
Monday, May 29, 2017 - 8:30am

Industrial Design Tenured Professor, Alexander Manu, will present the Opening Keynote "Starting From Scratch" at AdTech 2017 Toronto.

As an author and leader in the field of strategic foresight, Alexander Manu surveys a marketplace in which online behaviour is transforming the ecosystem into a behaviour economy, changing the relationship between companies and customers. This is a major challenge to incumbent organizations, as their markets are being disrupted on an unprecedent scale.

To survive, brands need to understand that the new economy is not abuot change, but about transformation. As new technology (from artificial intelligence, to deep machine learning and more) changes the structure of our lives, it also changes the frameworks on which our experiences are built. 

To be providers of meaning in this new framework, brands must redefine their role within the story of each user.

Key Topics:

- Future-proofing your organization for the behaviour economy

- Strategic transformation in the subscription economy

- Everything social, everything augmented and everything autonomous

For more information click here.

Venue & Address: 
Scotiabank Theatre 259 Richmond Street West. Toronto, ON M5V 3M6

Greg Van alstyne

Greg Van Alstyne is an accomplished futurist, designer, educator and researcher with extensive experience in creative concept development, writing, visualization, art direction, and design management. His strengths include presentation, process facilitation, and team management, as well as program development, group critique, and evaluation. Greg's career spans more than twenty-five years, including interaction, communication and exhibition design, design strategy, strategic foresight and innovation consulting.

SFI Alumna Madeline Ashby (MDes '11) finalist for CBC Books Canada Reads 2017

Madeline Ashby
Thursday, February 9, 2017

"I'm proud to announce that my latest novel, COMPANY TOWN, which is one big long science fiction prototype about the future of urban life after the oil bubble pops (and also a post-human serial-killer, and augmented reality, and the implications of CRISPR), has been selected as a finalist for CBC Books' 2017 Canada Reads competition.”

What is the one book Canadians need now? That's the question at the heart of the next edition of Canada Reads, which will take place from March 27 to 30, 2017. Ali Hassan, from CBC's Laugh Out Loud, will host the show for the first time.

"As part of the media process, I've gotten a lot of questions about my work as a foresight consultant, and the training I received in the SFI programme. I'm filming more today, and doing an event with the CEO of Chapters/Indigo, so we'll see how many times I can explain what foresight is in a single day."--Madeline Ashby

About Madeline:

Madeline Ashby is a science fiction writer, futurist, speaker, and immigrant living in Toronto. She writes a column for the Ottawa Citizen. She is represented by Anne McDermid & Associates, and Jason Richman at UTA. You can buy her books here.

She has worked with Intel Labs, the Institute for the Future, SciFutures, Nesta, Data & Society, The Atlantic Council, the ASU Center for Science and the Imagination, and others. Her short fiction has appeared in Nature, FLURB, Tesseracts, Imaginarium, and Escape Pod. Her other essays and criticism have appeared at BoingBoing, io9, WorldChanging, Creators Project, Arcfinity,, MISC Magazine, FutureNow, and elsewhere.


Three OCAD U teams heading to the Hult Prize regional finals

Strategic Foresight and Innovation
Friday, February 3, 2017

Students from the Strategic Foresight and Innovation (SFI) graduate program and the Digital Futures (DFI) program are on their way to the next level of the million-dollar Hult Prize competition on March 3, 2017.

The Hult Prize Foundation is a start-up accelerator for social entrepreneurs emerging from the world’s universities. The goal of the annual competition is to create and launch the most compelling social business ideas—start-up enterprises that tackle issues faced by billions of people. Winners receive $1 million U.S. in seed capital, as well as mentorship and advice from the international business community.

The 2017 Hult Prize "President's Challenge" is "Refugees - Reawakening Human Potential" and will focus on restoring the rights and dignity of people and societies who may be, or are forced into motion due to social injustices, politics, economic pressures, climate change and war. We will also work to restore the rights and dignity of those currently living in informal / illegal settlements. Our aim is to reach 10M by 2022 and believe young people and their collective wisdom is the only way forward. This challenge was selected by President Bill Clinton and announced at the 2016 Hult Prize Finals and Awards program New York.

The OCAD University teams:

Competing in Boston: Team Hive  

Collective Farming in Refugee Camps

Team Hive’s DIY Modular Indoor Farming Kit hopes to capture the talent and knowledge of the people in refugee camps. The kit is a self-contained low-tech module that will give people the opportunity to grow their own produce and redistribute to the local economy. The kits are designed with the concept of biomimicry - looking to nature to see how bees have created a community. Team Hive hopes to inspire the same sense of a collective community with the kits. Each module will be able to connect to another which will allow a larger system to be built over time, thus increasing the production capabilities within refugee camps.

  • Tania De Gasperis (SFI)
  • Daniel Ura  (SFI)
  • Sugeevan Shanmuganathan (DFI - undergraduate) 
  • Manik Gunatilleke (DFI - graduate)

Competing in London: Team Sage

Turning camps into classrooms without the need for internet connections or physical spaces.

As a universal right, education gives people the baseline skills to thrive, but for many children living in refugee camps, access to education is not guaranteed.

What if refugees could receive education without interruption? What if it was low cost, used existing infrastructure, and even created employment opportunities?

Using the smartphone that nearly every refugee already has, Sage turns refugee camps into classrooms without the need for internet connections or physical spaces. A mobile education solution, Sage uses mesh networks to connect students with tutors, and provides the necessary curriculum for them to continue their education while living in uncertainty.

  • Courtney Cooper (SFI)
  • Vince Galante  (SFI)
  • Ziyan Hossain  (SFI)
  • Lisa Hart   (SFI)

Competing in Shanghai: Team Forsati  

A mobile platform for economic resilience within refugee camps

What if a refugee could capitalize on the time they spend waiting in a refugee camp? What if the “wait” was not an obstacle, but an asset, to economic mobility? Forsati, which translates to “My Opportunity” in Arabic, is a simple but powerful mobile platform that helps refugees find safe work opportunities within a camp. Whether they have resources to rent, baking to sell, childcare to offer or trade skills to employ, Forsati can help connect them with the right buyer. Meanwhile, an authenticated work history log tracks completed jobs and compiles them into an accessible, usable résumé for life after the camp.

  • Alastair Woods (SFI)
  • Jessica Thornton (SFI)
  • Lindsay Clarke  (SFI)



Dr. Sara Diamond

Dr. Sara Diamond is currently President Emerita of OCAD University Canada’s “university of the imagination.” She was President and Vice-Chancellor for 15 years, stepping down on June 30, 2020. She holds a PhD in Computer Science and degrees in new media theory and practice, social history and communications. She was appointed to the Order of Canada in June 2019 and is an appointee of the Order of Ontario and the Royal Canadian Society of Artists. While retaining OCAD University's traditional strengths in art and design, Dr.