Since 1994, the Civic Informatics Laboratory (LIC) performs action research on people active participation in the Network Society. Research activity concerns the design and development of social interactive systems in real life settings, with a special focus on the public sphere, i.e. on the study and development of online deliberative environments and the relevant software technologies for promoting open government, e-participation, e-democracy and digital citizenship.
HCI, CSCW, participatory design, end-user software engineering, web design, web science, community informatics, (e-)participation and (e-)democracy, online deliberation and social media are the research fields more directly related with LIC activities. Social and political sciences are influencing disciplines.

Research has been continuously coupled with, and draw inspiration from field projects and initiatives. First of all, in 1994 LIC promoted  RCM, the Milan Community Network, a pioneering, internationally well-known, platform  for collecting citizens’ civic intelligence. It gave rise to the Fondazione RCM - Rete Civica di Milano, a participatory foundation established in 1998 as an autonomous body, with the Lombardy Region, the Province of Milan, the Milan Chamber of Commerce and the University of Milan as founding members.

LIC and Fondazione RCM have developed openDCN, an open source e-participation platform - where DCN stands for Deliberative Community Networks – which provides online dedicated tools for supporting online participation and deliberation.