Archivo del March, 2012

Open Innovation in Cities: The case of Boston, Code for America and Code for Europe

How can cities solve the need of providing more and more diverse services, in a scenario of cutting budgets, while taking advantage of the opportunities that new technologies bring to us?

Open Innovation managed to fulfill this promise in the private sector and is now being translated to the Public Sector, particularly to Cities.

Code for America is an organization born in 2011 that taps on volunteers to bring fresh and new air to City Halls, providing to cities the kind of apps that are changing our lives. Commons for Europe and Open Cities are European projects that aim to translate this experience to Europe. The success of Code for America has been highly acknowledged with participating cities such as Boston, New York, San Francisco or Chicago and success stories such as adopt a Hydrant, and app that has been translated to different cities and contexts.

Boston has been at the forefront of this transformation, with experiences that range from using Innocentive for crowdsourcing apps to engaging with Code for America or fostering a leading incubator program.

Cities are in a process of transformation from Service Providers to managers of ecosystems, leading to more, better and more participatory services and in many ways reinventing not only cities but citizenship in the XXI century.

In order to talk about these topics, ESADE hosted a conference on “Open Innovation in Cities: The case of Boston, Code for America and Code for Europe” on March 28th by the active collaboration of IIK members. Keynote speakers have been Nigel Jacob, co-chair of Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics in the Boston City Hall and Joel Mahoney, fellow at Code for America.

A video of the event can be seen here.

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Barcelona APPlies itself to improve city services

They say that Barcelona is one of the world’s most cutting-edge cities in terms of innovation. The city’s 22@ district, always teeming with ideas from the best and the brightest, seems to corroborate this claim. However, many of these improvements have little to do with everyday life, and therefore go unnoticed by the public. But… can everyday problems be solved through innovation?

According to the Barcelona City Council, the answer is yes, for example through open data mobile applications. The city has announced a local contest, Apps4bcn, that will give entrepreneurs and freelance developers the chance to help satisfy the daily needs of smart cities. Sponsored by Vodafone and Toshiba, Apps4bcn will be complemented by the city’s participation in the Open Cities App Challenge, a Europe-wide competition in which Barcelona will face off against Helsinki, Berlin, Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, London and Bologna to see which city can develop the best application to make urban space more efficient and transparent.

Barcelona already offers some examples of free open data applications for the general public. Some of these promising apps received awards at the 2011 Mobile Forum Conference. One award winner was Bústia Ciutadana, a virtual mailbox where iPhone and Android users can report damage to public spaces (even photographically) and receive assurance from the city that it will be fixed “in five days, on average”, according to the Barcelona Municipal Institute of Computer Science (IMI). This application, like the Bicing and Trànsit apps, has already been downloaded at least 78,713 times.

But it’s time to stop and take stock of the situation, says ESADE Associated Professor Esteve Almirall, creator and coordinator of the Open Cities App Challenge: “Each city has come out with its own app for reporting problems. In total, there must be about 15 different apps of this sort throughout Europe, all based on the same idea. It’s become very common to reinvent the wheel.” A European competition, he said, makes more sense than ever. “It’s about creating a European apps market that does not exist today, to share knowledge and increase visibility,” said Prof. Almirall. But there’s more to it than that Almirall, an expert in innovation, says it is also a market-related issue: “Sometimes local apps don’t have enough market to grow. For example, there’s a Spanish app that is used in Helsinki to report traffic issues. This proves that it’s possible to create larger markets.”

The idea, according to the organisers and participants in Open Cities App Challenge, is not to create rivalry between countries. “This project gives us the opportunity to learn from other cities. And it allows developers to think about their applications globally, beyond the information limits of their own city,” said Ivonne Jansen-Dings, the head of open data at Waag Society, which joined forces with the economic department of the city of Amsterdam and a group called Hack the Government to launch this initiative in 2011.

Developers hoping to launch their apps in Amsterdam and the other six participating cities have until 17th May to submit an application with Apps4bcn; with the candidate’s permission, applications will automatically be forwarded to the European competition. Alternatively, candidates may apply to the Open Cities App Challenge directly anytime before 30th June. At that time, ten finalists will be selected to present their projects to a panel of judges at the Smart Cities Expo, which will be held in Barcelona in November.

This post is a translation of an article by Andrea Pelayo published on the 13th of March 2012 on “El Mundo” in its supplement “Innovadores”.

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ESADE presents its latest research on open government and innovation at the World Bank Forum

On February 23rd representatives from ESADE travelled to Washington DC to present their latest research findings on open government and open innovation at the Sustainable Development Forum 2012, an event organised by the World Bank.

Jonathan Wareham, ESADE’s Vice-Dean of Research and Director of the Institute for Innovation and Knowledge Management (IIK), was the keynote speaker at the session entitled “Open Innovation in Public Services Across Sectors”. Wareham presented the latest work by ESADE researchers on smart cities and open data, and discussed the research challenges that remain to be addressed regarding the social significance of new technologies.

Esteve Almirall, ESADE professor in the Department of Information Systems Management, presented new research findings on these subjects from Open Cities, a collaborative European project led by Almirall which promotes open innovation with the aim of developing new public services for citizens. He also highlighted the major goals of Commons for Europe, another of ESADE’s major open innovation projects also led by Almirall, which brings together web experts, technology industry leaders and representatives of a number of European cities to develop new types of public services.

The World Bank is currently collaborating with ESADE through both the Open Cities and Commons for Europe projects to promote ideas that arise from their research to apply it to developing countries. In particular, the World Bank is interested in creating a “Code for the World”, where cities would share their individual expertise with the rest of the world and together would build tools to facilitate broader citizen participation. Moldavia, Lebanon, Kenya, Tanzania, Tunisia, Morocco and Egypt are some of the Countries where the results of Open Cities and Commons for Europe will be applied. In the framework of these projects, several workshops will be organized by the World Bank in collaboration with ESADE, being the first one foreseen in Tunisia by the end of April 2012.

Worldreader
During his visit in Washington, Wareham also met with the NGO Worldreader’s ICT & Education group to discuss the latest technological advances that would facilitate their plans to make subsidized e-readers available in parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. Wareham is a member of Worldreader’s board of directors, and is actively supporting the organisation to ensure the sustainability of its project.

Worldreader.org is a non-profit organisation whose aim is to put libraries within reach of all the families on the planet with electronic book technology. The NGO has launched a number of pilot studies in schools in Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda. The NGO was founded in 2009 by David Risher, a member of ESADE’s International Advisory Board and Colin McElwee, ex-director of Corporate Marketing at ESADE.

Brookings Institution
During his visit, Wareham also attended a meeting in Washington with representatives of the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organisation. Its mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research in order to provide innovative recommendations to foster economic and social welfare. The Brookings Institution showed great interest in the research projects carried out by ESADE, and both institutions agreed to host a joint workshop at ESADE’s Barcelona Campus before the end of 2012.

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