Understanding the potential in digital social innovation
Following the nuclear catastrophe at the Fukushima nuclear power plant in March 2011, Safecast, a global sensor network for collecting and sharing radiation measurements, used crowdfunding platform Kickstarter to raise money for a project that would help them crowdsource radiation levels in Japan.
As the public rushed to understand the radiation levels in their towns, Safecast realised that most of the devices used by the public to map radiation were of poor quality and there were massive holes in the data sets available. Safecast developed the bGiegie immediately after the disaster and turned to the crowds via Kickstarter to finance the device and help launch the sensor network.
Safecast then worked with Hackerspaces and used grant funding to update the counter, allowing it to be mounted to the outside of a car and GPS (to timestamp the data and log the location), and wireless communication (to send the data inside the car and let the driver know if they are in an area with high radiation) and an SD card slot (for data logging).
To date, Safecast volunteers have mapped radiation levels of over 11 million data points, providing a comprehensive and accurate dataset that was inconceivable before the Safecast project.
Over the last couple of months we have been working on identifying examples and actors of Digital Social Innovation (DSI) like the Safecast, which through its innovative use of digital technologies such as crowdfunding, crowdsourcing, open and user generated data, to bring people together to solve social challenges.
Through the next 18 months of research we hope to shine a light on the potential for digital social innovation, who the people and organisations are that are fostering its growth and finally what policy makers and others might do to encourage more digital innovation for social good.
We are still looking for great examples of DSI and to learn more about the organisations working on DSI, from grassroots networks to foundations and government departments. If you know of a great case study or if you are working on DSI then please send us a mail or tweet.
- Achieve positive social impact from their service
- Are disruptive in their use of online/digital tools or methods
- Demonstrate a "network effect" by facilitating user collaboration or the sharing of user data
- Operate at scale i.e. the larger number of users the service has, the better