Digitalisation for Social Innovation
In recent times, efforts focusing on investigating how digital technologies can assist in addressing societal challenges have grown all over the R&D&I landscape in Europe and beyond. With the ever-increasing penetration of Internet technologies in our lives and society, it has become clear that the impact of digitalization is playing an essential role on how people interact and connect. Ensuring cohesive efforts for social good by bringing together researchers, entrepreneurs and citizens has a tremendous potential.
To drive these efforts and steer the creation of a community working for understanding and promoting the deployment of Next Generation Internet technologies for the social good, the European Commission has launched the Collaborative Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation, CAPS, initiative. This initiative aims at designing and piloting online platforms creating awareness of sustainability problems and offering collaborative solutions based on networks of people, of ideas, of devices and sensors, enabling new forms of social innovation. CAPS projects and related initiatives aims at supporting environmentally aware, grassroots processes and practices to share knowledge, to achieve changes in lifestyle, production and consumption patterns, and to set up more participatory democratic processes. The development and promotion of such “platforms” to be intended as the plurality of people, devices, data and Internet technologies, can have very concrete impact in our society, for instance in empowering and stimulating citizens to make informed decisions as consumers, or in fostering collective environmentally-savvy behavioural changes and a more direct democratic participation.
The CAPS initiative, which groups 32 EU projects and that Martel is actively involved in as Coordinator of the ChiC project and Leader of the CAPSSI community building activities, is well aligned with a number of broader initiatives that are happening in Europe and worldwide which are all geared at investigating, sometimes from different angles (i.e., more policy-driven, more data-driven, more technology-driven, more socially-driven) how to make good use of digital technologies for improved quality of life for all citizens.
Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation are indeed designing and piloting online platforms creating awareness of sustainability problems and offering collaborative solutions based on networks (of people, of ideas, of sensors), enabling new forms of sustainability and social innovation. These platforms provide strong ecosystems with thousands, or even millions of users, is built by mutual trust that interactive players are providing value to one another. The critical mass in the diffusion of innovations is the point after which further diffusion becomes self-sustaining. The use of creativity in the innovation process through approaches such as “gamification” is a promising solution for keeping the critical mass of users engaged. The challenge is to identify innovative combinations of existing and emerging network technologies enabling new forms of Digital Social Innovation coming bottom-up from collective awareness, digital hyper-connectivity and collaborative tools.
Our ambition is to understand these dynamics and contribute to address these ambitious challenges that, we believe, are central to the vision of creating a Next Generation Internet that can truly become the Internet of Humans.