Digital Social innovation is a novel approach to understand and address societal challenges and the instrumental role that ICT can play in improving European citizens’ everyday life. Collective Awareness Platforms (CAPs) projects, co-financed by the EC – DG connect, and started in October 2013 work in this direction. As described in a dedicated website: “CAPS are ICT systems leveraging the emerging “network effect” by combining open online social media, distributed knowledge creation and data from real environments (“Internet of Things”) in order to create awareness of problems and possible solutions requesting collective efforts, enabling new forms of social innovation” .
Digital Social Innovation is said to provide information, knowledge, organisational models, services and social-entrepreneurial models that can tackle societal challenges such as unemployment, aging, social exclusion and social and environmental sustainability. The central role of grassroots initiatives tends to be put forward, while taking the difficulties into account in transforming such small-scale initiatives into sustainable European models.
While many initiatives are emerging all around the world, looking at different social challenges, the analysis of such initiatives and their real potential in terms of impact is not an easy task.
A current need can therefore be detected to develop a robust methodology to assess the socio-economic and political impacts of such innovation initiatives that is able to account for intangibles and, at the same time, are able to translate such innovative experiences into a language that citizens, entrepreneurs and policy makers can understand.
The IA4SI project seeks to support and offer opportunities for knowledge exchange and synergies development to CAPs projects. Our objectives:
– to adapt well experimented socio-economic impact assessment methodologies to the specific field of digital social innovation (e.g., SEQUOIA, ERINA+ and MAXICULTURE);
– to offer three online tools for impact self-assessment, enabling projects to understand and improve their impacts on objectives stated in the call and in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, innovativeness and uptake potential. The three tools are targeted to 1) the projects, and 2) their users and European citizens that will be engaged in the evaluation of the projects by voting;
– to identify best practices and supporting them in reaching the planned impact on communities;
– to create synergies and coordination between funded projects on social innovation;
– to engage with the European citizens in the evaluation of social innovation initiatives and in becoming aware of the potentialities of the social innovation approach; and,
– to develop policy recommendation and a research roadmap for integrating different initiatives with the final aim of increasing their impact on communities and their capability to address societal challenges.