Blogs in other places … including digital trends in social innovation

You only have so many blogs in you – right?

I am currently blogging mostly on my work pages over at Nesta – you can see if you scroll down past the mugshot to a list of Alice Casey Blogs at Nesta which I guess I dont need to duplicate in full here – except for the one below as I think it sums up a wide range of interests I’m working on quite nicely on how people are using new tech to make a social impact.

Digital Social Innovation : 11 Trends to Watch

People are using digital technology to revolutionise how we make social impact and to develop useful new resources for everyone. We know this is happening in a wide range of ways but is often informal and community-driven which means that finding and supporting people who are delivering or expanding great project ideas is a difficult task as the field is not very visible. We’re trying to increase this visibility by crowdmapping this space.

If you or someone you know is working on projects in the areas below please let us know about them by adding them to the open crowdmap over at www.digitalsocial.eu You can read the detail and find more examples via the detailed article under each link.

  1. Crowdfunding is a great example of how online networks can disrupt the usual way of doing things, in this case; funding new projects. The number and type of platforms has grown in many directions, whether sourcing volunteer time alongside fundraising, providing public match-funding for community projects or creating revenue sharing for social enterprises.
  2. Crowdmapping became more widely known when it was used in disaster relief operations such as that after the Haiti earthquake. It showed how usefully social media and citizen reports could be to target relief more effectively by collecting this information rapidly for anyone to view on a live map. How to develop this for more ongoing citizen engagement and accountability is a live question.
  3. Crowdsourcing is a term that covers all kinds of ways in which information is gathered from a large crowd and used to create new insights. There are some exciting developments using crowdsourcing within top-down decision making processes in systematic ways to create direct engagement on governance.
  4. Sensor networks are becoming more common as sensor technology becomes cheaper and more widely accessible. They are particularly well suited for monitoring areas of common popular concern where it is difficult for an individual body to gather quality and quantity of information, for example citizen-led pollution monitoring.
  5. Open hardware is the creation of physical products through using digital processes. The social applications are hugely varied, from medical products to sensors to a wide range of tools and other devices.
  6. Data powers applications of many kinds, and the social impact applications of data are hugely varied, but they depend on the quantity, quality and availability of this data. In the detailed article you can read more about what big, open, linked data actually is and why it is so important for social impact projects.
  7. Open source code helps people to avoid starting from scratch when creating new projects. When your project is a volunteer-led initiative, it is incredibly valuable to understand more about how code sharing platforms like GitHub work.
  8. Open licenses help people to freely share any of the things they have created for others to re-use. Whether that is data of any kind, or content; knowing you are free to re-use and build on existing knowledge is an important foundation for digital social innovation.
  9. Citizen science describes a movement that unlocks new resource for research and analysis. The zooniverse platform is a great aggregator for examples of projects, whether getting the public to help classify cancer cells, or monitoring light pollution or using health data to understand chronic health conditions
  10. Open learning takes place informally in many ways online, for example using Wikipedia or Youtube to find out information or to receive instruction. However, there is an increasing movement towards making comprehensive online learning resources available for free or cheaply online and it is also fuelling all the technical and digital learning needed to make the most of all the opportunities that digital innovations offer, for example through free and open coding courses.
  11. Collaboration spaces like FabLabs and hackerspaces aren’t of course an entirely digital phenomenon, but we wanted to include them here because getting together face to face is still incredibly important to accelerating the new social applications that can come from digital technology. If you know where to look, you’ll find many exciting meetups to collaborate and develop new digital projects – or just to hang out.

The 11 digital social innovation trends above are the areas we found that seem to be particularly exciting and important to developing social impact through digital innovations. These trends overlap and depend on oneanother to create social impact – no doubt you can think of more! We are only at the beginning of realising what can be achieved through combining these trends to create entirely new ways of creating products and services with real social value.

Anything missing? Want to know more? Contact us via @digi_si or email Peter Baeck & Alice Casey to talk further about DSI and of course, dont forget to add yourself to our map. We’d love to hear what you’re doing.

– See more at: http://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/eleven-trends-watch-digital-social-innovation#sthash.ENKYst9s.dpuf

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Mad 2012 : 7 billion people : (The worlds most inspiring photo)

Speaking to young innovators and social entrepeneurs in Hong Kong at MaD 2012 conference. A fantastic experience to meet young people with ideas and projects to change the world for the better – one step at a time! PS. Carl Sagan is awesome.

Groupon for public services or social good?

Groupon : An awesome name for an awesome idea…

First of all, it does what it says: It is a ‘coupon’ for groups. People join up to the groupon site and get sent special offers by email Eg. a half price holiday or spa visit. If a certain number of them ‘group-on’ to the offer by signing up in principle to pay for the product/service then the company will provide the product/service at a hugely discounted rate.

The Groupon concept has some great features which could be applied to a public service or social context. I thought I’d write a just a few up below for you to think about.  I was wondering if anyone had come across similar incentive schemes or group buying in the public/social sector that I should take a look at?

Peer referral

The idea that you need to get a group of people around the offer before it goes ahead means that peer referral is strongly incentivised. This enables the groupon concept to grow virally and reach deeply into friendship or interest networks.

If you applied this to public services you could reach people that public services can find it difficult to reach in order to promote take-up of training or healthcare offers.

Targeting niche markets

You could use groupon to match user groups with very specific needs with tailored/bespoke offers made up of both financial and NON financial benefits. For example, those living with long term conditions in a particular geographic area might form a group to network AND buy support services at discounted rates. Those with rare conditions who feel isolated can be matched with others to purchase discounted specialist treatments that they need AND to provide peer support.

Pipeline for ‘new social services’ 

Services like Cool2Care http://www.cool2care.co.uk/ which provide specialist carers to families with disabled children could stand to gain through being able to better understand and plan for demand for the service by creating a pipeline of demand when people sign up to take on their offer. Personal budgets could be spent on this type of care OR cautious investors could be attracted to make investment once the provider has been able to demonstrate a strong market for their service.

Just a few ideas to explore…be interested to hear your thoughts.

Goodgym: A smarter social service

You might remember me mentioning the marvellous Goodgym a while back when the project won the Social Innovation Camp weekend ideas pitching session. Yes, this is the project I almost fell into a canal for.

The concept is very simple –  it matches two differing needs in order to provide a different kind of social service.

The idea of GoodGym is to provide isolated or immobile older people with regular human contact and to provide motivation for younger, mobile people to run and get fit.   The Good Gym aims to make it easy for people to channel the energy used up as part of their exercise routine  toward a wider social good. 

I was very pleased to see that Ivo and the team were featured on BBC London News spreading the word about the project. Check out Goodgym on the telly! Excellent to see things going from strength thanks to lots of wonderful project leaders and volunteers’ time.

The project is currently piloting live throughout Tower Hamlets right now and looking for people to get involved there, as well as inviting expressions of interest from further afield.

Evaluating Service Design : Service design thinks #1

One of the things I did in my blogging break was to have the significant honour of kicking off the Service Design Thinks discussion series as put together by Nick Marsh, Lauren Tan and Jaimes Nel. I discussed the very glamorous and necessary issue of  evaluating service design processes, and then promptly ran off to catch a sleeper train to the Isle of Eigg. (Will update you on that one later!)

You can see the talk here:

Alice Casey – How was it for you?

Techniques for evaluating the effectiveness of user engagement

The four key points I made could really apply to any user-centred public service development that you might be thinking about:

  1. It’s never too soon to think about evaluation; (it helps you plan your end goals and the best ways to know when you’ve reached them)
  2. Involve people in the evaluation process; (user voice is authentic and powerful, it helps you to define success from different points of view)
  3. Appreciate the policy context; (try and understand how to measure success from a ‘national targets’ point of view then don’t ‘just do a survey’)
  4. Tell a compelling story, (its all about mixing qualitative numbercrunching and quantitative storytelling to make a powerful and persuasive evaluation)

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”


#rebootbritain : social by social and interactive charter

I went to the NESTA Reboot Britain conference on Monday afternoon. My top two ideas to watch were:

1) Social by Social : New book/website looking in a practical way at how social media offers opportunities for social change. Check out the link. Sponsored by NESTA and written by David Wilcox, Andy Gibson, Amy Sample Ward and Nigel Courtney and Clive Holtham of Cass Business School.

2) Interactive Charter : Tim Davies and Paul Evans were joined by Tom Watson MP and Jeremy Gould to launch a charter for developing and improving how social media is used in a government context. Again, they can explain it far better than me over at the website linked to above!

The point is that both of these ideas have something in common that is very important to me, namely – a way of looking beyond what happens online into practical ‘real world’ application and culture change. If social media is going to make a real difference to the way we operate our social and governance systems, then we need more practical projects like these to lead the way forward. Let’s move from rhetoric and discussion into more piloting and learning.