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A “job guarantee” in Puerto Rico, lessons in open innovation, and a blockchain pilot in Zug

Lab Notes - January edition

The January edition of Lab Notes brings together inspiring news, publications and other resources for public sector and social innovators around the world, including a bold suggestion for lifting millions out of unemployment in Puerto Rico; lessons in running challenge prizes; and an early write-up of a blockchain implementation in the Swiss city of Zug ...

This month's key lab picks

1. In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico's poverty level has risen to 53 per cent and much of the country remains without basic infrastructure. Could the disaster be the trigger for a radical new experiment - a job guarantee?

2. In many African countries the informal sector accounts for the majority of economic activity. A new white paper from researchers at the London School of Economics discusses the disruptive impacts that digital technologies are having on informal economies, and offers a tool for policymakers to help people living in them.

3. The Waterloo Institute for Social Innovation and Resilience has launched a free MOOC on Social Innovation and Resilience, with modules on understanding complex problems, seeing and describing systems and social innovation and system entrepreneurship.

4. Joeri van den Steenhoven asks whether we can make government innovation the new normal, and outlines his own four-step public innovation maturity scale with some practical advice for public innovators and government leaders.

5. Drone usage is growing fast, and the UK government is making towns and cities around the country test-beds for new civilian uses. Also check out Nesta’s prediction about how drones will break into the mainstream in 2018, both for commercial and socially beneficial purposes.

6. Luminary Labs, a New York-based consultancy, has written seven lessons from its experience in allocating five million dollars to open innovation (such as hackathons and challenge prizes) as a method for accelerating solutions to complex societal problems.

7. Data Labs is a new collection of case studies brought together by The GovLab and New Philanthropy Capital exploring the successes, drawbacks and risks facing data-driven policy labs.

8. A new public-private initiative in Beersheva, Israel claims to be the world’s first innovation lab specifically dedicated to meeting the challenges facing elderly people.

9. Could Zug ID be the first publicly verified blockchain identity system? UPort’s Paul Kohlhass describes the pilot, as well as some of the cost-saving benefits it aims to bring to the Swiss city of Zug.

10. China’s government is picking up on the digital technologies for harvesting and processing personal data pioneered by the tech sector. This long read from Wired sheds light on the darker aspects of the country's new experiment to create a “social credit system”.

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Theo Bass

Theo Bass

Theo Bass

Researcher, Government Innovation

Theo is a Researcher in the Policy and Research team

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Matt Stokes

Matt Stokes

Matt Stokes

Senior Researcher

Matt is a senior researcher working on the collaborative economy and digital social innovation.

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