The Network itself fosters work within and collaboration across disciplines on questions of institutional innovation. The Network also regularly organizes conferences, events, and workshops bringing together researchers and experts from across sectors and disciplines to advance our understanding of 21st century institutional innovation.
An annual interdisciplinary conference dedicated to advancing our understanding of collective intelligence and the workings of groups.
Collective Intelligence 2017 emphasized research in service of the public good and projects that address societal problems. Participants explored the impact of Internet technology and big data on the ways in which people come together to communicate and combine knowledge and skills. Coming from myriad disciplines and fields, conference participants shared connecting groups of people, information, and machines can lead to more intelligent behavior and more effective problem solving.
The event brought together researchers from academia, business, non-profit, and government to share insights, ideas, and experiences and to collaborate on the design of better approaches for fostering the use of collective intelligence. The 2017 conference placed special emphasis on public interest applications of collective intelligence, namely the role of groups and collective intelligence in governing and in solving societal challenges.
The conference took place at New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering on June 15-16, 2017.
Convenings of Research Network Members
Three times each year, members of the Research Network come together to share learnings, plot out collaborative projects, and engage with practitioners, policymakers and researchers in host communities. These convenings provide an opportunity to reflect on progress made by the Network toward increasing our understanding of the Opening Governance paradigm; develop and refine joint research projects and deliverables; and tap into the skills and expertise of those working at the leading edge of governance innovation.
The knowledge-exchange network for open government and open data professionals
Network of Innovators (NoI) is an expert network designed and developed by The GovLab in collaboration with governance innovation leaders across eight countries. It makes searchable the know-how of government innovators on topics integral to governing more effectively and legitimately, such as open data, citizen engagement and prize-backed challenges. By answering questions about your governance innovation skills and experiences, you can be matched to those with complementary knowledge to enable mutual support and learning.
In large institutions, there is no good way to target opportunities for collaboration. Professionals working in a variety of contexts - from regulatory agencies to social innovation labs - have a hard time identifying who among their colleagues and peers has the experience and expertise to better solve problems. There are a number of factors feeding into this reality:
NoI aims to organize and develop the taxonomy of innovation practices. Through ongoing engagement with governance innovation practitioners from around the world, we are continuing to refine NoI with a focus on capturing the most impactful and desirable innovation skills for public servants today.
The Network brought together computer and political scientists to develop new insights into approaches for effective collaborative problem-solving.
The Network organized a three-part series of workshops bringing together scholars working on questions with democratic choice together with scholars working on machine learning and related forms of data analysis. These workshops were inspired by the belief that both kinds of scholars are engaged with similar questions involving the analysis of large scale collective choice and belief formation. The goal of the workshops was to galvanize debates between data scientists and political scientists and theorists that could generate new ways of addressing common problems. Beyond the connections made at the workshops, participants developed drafted detailed research papers for future publication. Henry Farrell also interviewed a number of participants for a series of posts on the Network blog.
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In 2015, the Academy of Management held its annual meeting with the theme of "Opening Governance."
“Opening Governance” was the organizing theme of the 75th meeting of the Academy, which is the largest gathering of business-school professors in the world. The meeting brought together over 10,000 people under this theme, and yielded the most paper submissions received in the history of AoM.
In her letter to AoM members, 2015 Program Chair Anita McGahan wrote, “Opening Governance is an invitation to think broadly and creatively about the ways in which organizations take action to address the most important management problems and opportunities of our time. For our meeting in Vancouver, Opening Governance raises questions that AOM members of various divisions and interest groups may tackle from many different perspectives.”
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Using data and citizen engagement to improve urban design and health outcomes.
In Arizona, Erik Johnston and the Center for Policy Informatics completed dual projects focused on using data and citizen capacity to improve health and urban design. First, in response to the persistent danger of extreme heat in Arizona, the Network worked to better coordinate the many non-governmental cooling centers in the state to better serve the needs of the community, particularly the most vulnerable. Data analysis, including analysis performed on data collected from wearable heat-tracking technology, allowed the Network to help inform the efforts of cooling centers as they seek to improve public health and safety in Arizona during its hottest months.
Second, the Reinvent Phoenix project built on the concept of civic hacking to give citizens the opportunity to play an active role building walkable, opportunity-rich communities connected to high-capacity public transit. With the goal of alleviating government budgets, enhancing social connectivity, improving community health and fostering a successful community business environment, Reinvent Phoenix drew on citizen input and data to guide and prioritize strategic investments in infrastructure, housing and business development in keeping with the community’s vision for the future.
An ongoing collaboration between actors in the innovation labs community.
Initiated by the Network and its members, the LabWorks innovation labs community, which includes the GovLab, Nesta, MaRs, MindLab and SIX, began its series of annual convenings in 2014. The community came together to share best practices and collaboratively develop innovations. The associated LabNotes monthly newsletter also reaches a large audience of practitioners and institutional decisionmakers.
The Network is drawing attention to the unfolding revolution in opening government by identifying, curating, and broadening the awareness of the key examples, scholarship and evidence in the field of opening governance.
A survey series intended to gauge public and government familiarity with, understanding of, and interest in open government and open data.
In 2015, Pew Research Center launched a number of surveys to better understand the uptake, understanding, and interest in open government practices. The results of the open data and government survey were covered by The Washington Post, USA Today, The Guardian, PBS, NBC, Politico, Mashable, re/code, Adweek, RT and The Hill, among others. The findings were also disseminated throughout the “sunlight” and “transparency” government reform communities.
An assessment of the network of businesses using open government data as a key business asset.
The Network developed a report and set of presentation materials that built on the Open Data 500 survey of businesses that use open data. This work provides the field with a better understanding of the types of private businesses making use of open data and how those businesses are accessing venture capital funding.
Research into some of the pioneering innovations in digital democracy which are taking place across Europe and beyond today.
In the context of the Network, Geoff Mulgan and a team at Nesta conducted in-depth research on new tools of political engagement to seek answers to two central questions:
Through both direct action and research the Network is gauging what works and what does not when it comes to efforts to promote open governance and public innovation.
The Ether Dome Challenge is an open innovation contest seeking solutions to pain points identified by front line staff at MGH.
The Ether Dome Challenge (EDC) is an open innovation contest seeking solutions to pain points identified by front line staff at MGH. The EDC was developed in partnership with Harvard Business School with the goals to engage staff in the ideation process and to fund projects for implementation. EDC consists of four phases: Ideation, Crowd Voting, Application and Awards.
What is open innovation? Open innovation is a model of collaborative innovation. We encourage all role groups (clinical, administrative, tech, etc.) in the hospital to participate in EDC and facilitate collaboration throughout the competition. By leveraging diverse skill sets we believe we land on the the most relevant pain points and the best solutions. Since the first Ether Dome Challenge in 2014, we have awarded over $150,000 to eight different projects.
Led by Erik Johnston at ASU, Learning to Not Wait is study of the citizen science and open source hardware movement in health, focusing especially on the Open Artificial Pancreas Program
Learning to Not Wait is a Network initiative led by Erik Johnston at Arizona State University studying and providing supporting research to the Open Artificial Pancrease (OpenAPS) community. In particular, the project comprises four central activities, as described by co-PI and OpenAPS founder Dana Lewis:
A crowdsourcing and collaboration tool geared toward improving Internet governance.
The NETmundial Solutions map was a platform designed by The Governance Lab with partners in the NETmundial Initiative to support decisionmakers at all levels and sectors through information sharing and collaboration across Internet governance issues. It served as a repository of information that links issues, actors, solutions and resources, and help users understand the current landscape of Internet governance. The platform was not only aimed at increasing the understanding of the myriad issues related to distributed, global governance governance, but also at acting as an experiment around broad-scale, issue-based crowdsourcing and collaboration.
Smarter Crowdsourcing is a method that combines rigorous problem definition with crowdsourcing to attract diverse ideas from global experts and rapidly develop those ideas into actionable proposals.
Led by the GovLab, the Network is experimenting with new approaches to tap into the skills and experiences of diverse experts to help government officials solve public problems. Three Smarter Crowdsourcing projects have been launched to date:
An effort to improve coordination and knowledge-sharing between fire departments.
Anita McGahan at University of Toronto, in the context of the Network, conducted in-depth research into how fire departments coordinate with neighboring departments, and the effects on life and property. In addition to insights from the management literature, big and open data analysis provideduseful pathways to improve collaboration between departments and accordant improvements in emergency response. A paper built from the research is forthcoming.
We look to provide both the current and next generations of public problem solvers (within and outside government) the skills, research insights, and guidance needed to increase their impact.
Training the Next Generation of Public Problem Solvers. Designed for public entrepreneurs, the GovLab Academy offers hands-on, personalized training and coaching to help cross the chasm from idea to practical reality.
Designed for public entrepreneurs – passionate and innovative people who wish to take advantage of new technology to do good in the world – the GovLab Academy offers hands-on, personalized training and coaching to help cross the chasm from idea to practical reality.
The GovLab Academy offers:
We measure success by the impact participants’ projects have on their communities.
GovLab Academy has coached projects ranging from building a mobile phone-based emergency medical dispatch for resource-limited settings to creating a city’s high impact solutions lab. Visit our project (http://govlabacademy.org/project-gallery.html) gallery to get to know more about the projects our alumni are working on.
Competitions and coaching to solve urban problems.
The City Challenges Program helps to build active citizenship and strengthens the social fabric of our communities by engaging everyone in the process of co-creating a common future. In addition, it helps break the silos between city agencies and creates spaces for cross-agency collaboration.
By pairing the agile process of open innovation for generating ideas with a well-honed method for coaching and mentoring those ideas, the program’s method quickly and effectively helps cities develop a replicable and effective process to:
We intentionally introduce experimental design into our programs to enable us to develop and share learnings to improve the effectiveness and legitimacy of the City Challenge methods.
Engaging people at different stages of the innovation process for more effective and participatory interventions.
In partnership with the Bertelsmann Foundation, the Network developed and is testing a methodology for engaging people as a key asset for innovation and problem solving. The People-Led Innovation methodology includes potential pathways for mobilizing people’s experiences and expertise across the following stages:
The Network has used its research – often research undertaken in a real-world setting with institutional partners – to accelerate the application of relevant findings in other governing contexts.
Today, in a world of cloud-hosted software, every application is a kind of trap.
Around the world, as people increasingly use computer applications not just in their jobs but to automate and connect more and more elements of their lives, they are discovering that along with the benefits come considerable risk and frustration. As people move their lives online, the limitations of their software become limitations in their lives, yet the prevailing software architecture renders them unable to find or create other options. These limitations have broad impacts across the world, as technology solutions increasingly move toward venture capital and solutions which are easy to monetize, instead of directly providing what people want or need.
Our goal with Solid is to create a world where people have better options. We want individuals, for example, to be able to easily integrate data relevant to their health, whether it comes from their exercise tracker, the restaurants they visit, their bathroom scale, or a medical testing lab. We want them to be able to share this data with their doctor and other caregivers, and also to be able to run a variety of commercial and noncommercial analytic software, mining their own data, all without significant risk to their privacy.
A research platform for sharing new, curated learnings around new approaches to solving problems.
From crowdsourcing to nudges to open data to participatory budgeting, more open and innovative ways to tackle society’s problems and make public institutions more effective are emerging. Yet little is known about what innovations actually work, when, why, for whom and under what conditions. Anyone seeking existing research relating to open data is confronted with sources that are widely dispersed across disciplines, often locked behind pay walls, and hard to search because of the absence of established taxonomies. As the demand to confront problems in new ways grows, so too does the urgency for making learning about governance innovations more accessible.
OGRX is a platform for browsing and sharing research findings about new, innovative ways to solve public problems. It seeks to curate and make accessible a diversity of findings on innovating governance.
Developed by the GovLab in collaboration with founding partners the World Bank Digital Engagement Evaluation Team and mySociety, OGRX provides:
A one-day conference on collective intelligence and the challenges of social cognition.
Organized by Nesta, this one-day conference brought together experts from the social and cognitive sciences, public policy and information analysis, to discuss what makes groups smart, and how collaborative platforms can generate results that individual agents cannot achieve on their own. Speakers included Colin Blakemore, Geoff Mulgan, Robin Dunbar, Chris Frith, Stefana Broadbent, Mattia Gallotti, Bahador Bahrami, Lici Capra, Hugo Mercier, Orestis Palermos, Paolo Gerbaudo, and Arnau Monterde.
An ongoing discussion series featuring experts working in fields relevant to opening governance.
Hosted at the GovLab, the Ideas Lunch series gives researchers and thought leaders the opportunity to share new findings and conduct question-and-answer sessions with students and the public. Some of the Ideas Lunch events organized to date include:
Identifying more effective means for engaging diverse expertise to improve Internet governance.
The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) has managed the system of Internet domains for a decade and a half. Yet as the Internet continues to rapidly evolve and the volume and diversity of stakeholders connecting to the Internet grows, ICANN has recognized it must rethink how it operates as a platform for global collaborative decisionmaking – especially in light of new and increasingly sophisticated communications technologies. The GovLab is working with the ICANN Strategy Panel on Multistakeholder Innovation (MSI Panel), chaired by The GovLab director and co-founder Professor Beth Simone Noveck, to research and design technology-enabled experiments to help ICANN engage broader communities and bring their expertise and input into ICANN’s policy development processes.
Specifically, the Panel has been tasked by Fadi Chehadé, President and CEO of ICANN to: