Foreword of European Commission Guide on Social Innovation: “Social innovation is in the mouths of many today, at policy level and on the ground. It is not new as such: people have always tried to find new solutions for pressing social needs. But a number of factors have spurred its development recently.
There is, of course, a link with the current crisis and the severe employment and social consequences it has for many of Europe’s citizens. On top of that, the ageing of Europe’s population, fierce global competition and climate change became burning societal challenges. The sustainability and adequacy of Europe’s health and social security systems as well as social policies in general is at stake. This means we need to have a fresh look at social, health and employment policies, but also at education, training and skills development, business support, industrial policy, urban development, etc., to ensure socially and environmentally sustainable growth, jobs and quality of life in Europe.”
Press Release: “Today the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University announced the Top 25 programs in this year’s Innovations in American Government Award competition. These government initiatives represent the dedicated efforts of city, state, federal, and tribal governments and address a host of policy issues including crime prevention, economic development, environmental and community revitalization, employment, education, and health care. Selected by a cohort of policy experts, researchers, and practitioners, four finalists and one winner of the Innovations in American Government Award will be announced in the fall. A full list of the Top 25 programs is available here.
…A Culture of Innovation
A number of this year’s Top 25 programs foster a new culture of innovation through online collaboration and crowdsourcing. Signaling a new trend in government, these programs encourage the generation of smart solutions to existing and seemingly intractable public policy problems. LAUNCH—a partnership among NASA, USAID, the State Department, and NIKE—identifies and scales up promising global sustainability innovations created by individual citizens and organizations. The General Services Administration’s Challenge.gov uses crowdsourcing contests to solve government issues: government agencies post challenges, and the broader American public is awarded for submitting winning ideas. The Department of Transportation’s IdeaHub also uses an online platform to encourage its employees to communicate new ideas for making the department more adaptable and enterprising.”
New York Times: “Because of the rapid spread of cellular phones, mobile technology has previously been used to address a variety of problems in the developing world, including access to financial services, health care information and education. But toilets were another matter….Building on a process that had previously been employed to address problems in supplying clean water to people in poor areas, the World Bank turned its attention to sanitation. Over six months last year, it solicited ideas from experts in the field, as well as software developers. The process culminated in early December with the actual hackathon — two days in which more than 1,000 developers gathered in 40 cities worldwide to work on their projects….After the event in Washington, the winners of the hackathon are set to travel to Silicon Valley for meetings with venture capitalists and entrepreneurs who are interested in the issue. The World Bank does not plan to invest in the projects, but hopes that others might.”
See also http://www.sanitationhackathon.org/
Tom Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation at OSTP : “As we enter the second year of the Big Data Initiative, the Obama Administration is encouraging multiple stakeholders, including federal agencies, private industry, academia, state and local government, non-profits, and foundations to develop and participate in Big Data initiatives across the country. Of particular interest are partnerships designed to advance core Big Data technologies; harness the power of Big Data to advance national goals such as economic growth, education, health, and clean energy; use competitions and challenges; and foster regional innovation.
The National Science Foundation has issued a request for information encouraging stakeholders to identify Big Data projects they would be willing to support to achieve these goals. And, later this year, OSTP, NSF, and other partner agencies in the Networking and Information Technology R&D (NITRD) program plan to convene an event that highlights high-impact collaborations and identifies areas for expanded collaboration between the public and private sectors.”
The New Digital Age: Reshaping the Future of People, Nations and Business by Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, Knopf, 2013
Scientific American: “Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, and Cohen, director of Google Ideas and a foreign policy wonk who has advised Hillary Clinton, deliver their vision of the future in this ambitious, fascinating account. For gadget geeks, the book is filled with tantalizing examples of futuristic goods and services: robotic plumbers; automated haircuts; computers that read body language; and 3-D holographs of weddings projected into the living rooms of relatives who couldn’t attend. Not surprisingly, the authors are bullish on how connectivity—access to the Internet that will soon be nearly universal—will transform education, terrorism, journalism, government, privacy and war. The result, they argue, though not perfect, will be “more egalitarian, more transparent and more interesting than we can even imagine.”
Tal Kopan in Politico: “The term open data brings to mind images of next bus apps and geeks poring over data sets about potholes, but advocates say the next phase could go far beyond the smartphone — changing the way cities and governments tackle big problems and even how they work together.
Experts see increased collaboration and universalized standards as upcoming steps to take open data’s recent success stories to the next level — and keep moving it toward its next act, which could involve addressing issues as complex as climate change, education and public health”