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Restart-Up! goes to Brussels

Author: Insite Staff Tags: There is no tags Comments: 0 Date: 07 May 2013
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Restart Up!, the project developed by Stefania Sardo and Alberto Lusoli from the European Centre for Living Technology has been chosen as finalist of the Social Innovation Competition, launched by the European Commission. In the final round of the Competition, that will take place the 28th of May in Brussels, the 10 finalists will compete for the assignment of the final prize of 20k Euro.
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P2P Food Lab project @ OuiShare Fest Awards in Paris

Author: Insite Staff Tags: There is no tags Comments: 0 Date: 02 May 2013
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P2P Food Lab project (proposed by Barcelona University, OKNO Belgium, Sony Computer Science Laboratory – Paris, Libelium – Communicaciones Distribuidas and ECLT – Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia) has been nominated with 24 others (amongst 100) for the OuiShare Fest Awards, a major event now taking place in Paris (2-4th May 2013) on the topic of Collaborative Economy: 
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Prize for Innovative Applications in Policy Making 2.0

Author: Francesco Mureddu Tags: There is no tags Comments: 0 Date: 19 Apr 2013

Why a prize?

The environment in which policy-makers work is becoming more challenging by the day. The world is increasingly unstable, complex and interconnected, as the financial crisis has shown, and the tools are inadequate. At the same time, many citizens reject collective action through traditional parties and look to take an increasingly personal and active role in policy decisions, mirroring their personalised, simple and relational experiences using web-based technologies and social media. Policy-making 2.0 refers to a blend of emerging and fast developing technologies that enable better, more timely and more participated decision-making. We want to reward and give visibility to the best applications, those which delivered a real impact on policy-making.

What are policy-making 2.0 applications?

This prize will be given to the best policy-making 2.0 applications, that is for the best use of technology to improve the design, delivery and evaluation of Government policy. We focus on implementation that can show a real impact on policy making, either in terms of better policy or wider participation. These technologies include, but are not limited to:

  • Open and big data
  • Visual analytics
  • Modelling and simulation (beyond general equilibrium models)
  • Collaborative governance and crowdsourcing
  • Serious gaming
  • Opinion mining.

Condition for participating will be the real-life implementation of technology to policy issues - potential implementation cases will not be eligible.

How to participate?

The prize is open to citizens and organisations from all over the world. Participants have to submit a short form, illustrating:

  • Name of the application
  • Name of the applicant and contact details
  • Year of launch of the application
  • Description of the application, with particular reference to what extent it addresses the award criteria

Proposals should be submitted by May15th

How are the winners selected?

There will be three winners.

The criteria for judging, equally important, will be:

  • What impact did it have on the quality of policies?
  • How open, scalable and replicable was it?
  • How extensive was public and policymaker take up?
  • How was it technologically innovative

The jury is to be confirmed soon.

What is the prize?

The 3 Winners will receive high profile visibility ensured by our media partners, Euractiv.

An IPAD mini will be distributed to all winners.


April 30th Launch with dedicated website

May 15th Deadline for submission (through a very simple form, including link to a video)

May 15th-May 28th Preselection of finalists (first screening by project team)

April 1st – April 15th Selection of the winners (by Jury)

For more information please refer to http://www.crossover-project.eu/PolicyMaking20Prize.aspx


Social Innovation Safari 2013

Author: Insite Staff Tags: Comments: 0 Date: 15 Apr 2013
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The Social Innovation Safari is a two week immersive learning experience where designers, social workers, academics, entrepreneurs, researchers, and practitioners from around the world work together to problem solve real-life social issues. We’ll use a problem-solving approach, which is collaborative, action-oriented, and inherently social.
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Restart Up! Drilling the drop-outs issue through ICT

Author: Insite Staff Tags: There is no tags Comments: 1 Date: 26 Feb 2013
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Youth unemployment is one of the most visible plagues of our society.

Eurostat statistics show that, on average, the European unemployment rate in 2012 of young people under 25 y.o. is of about 22,9%; Spain has recently reached the 53,2%, while Italy the 29,1% (2011).

At the same time we know that young generations are more prone to the use of social media and of other ICT tools. approximately 8 out of 10 Italian youngster, between 16 and 24 y.o., have an Internet access.
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Masters of networks: pushing the collaboration forward

Author: Insite Staff Tags: Comments: 0 Date: 05 Feb 2013
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On January 21-22 ECLT hosted in Venice “Masters of Networks”, an event organized by our partner,  the University of Alicante.

The organizers, Alberto Cottica and Giovanni Ponti, wanted to explore the possibilities that modern network analysis techniques could offer to policy makers.  The event also became the perfect occasion to mix competences and let two worlds meet: policy makers and network scientists.  Four topics were identified prior to the conference to foster the conversation between the two groups:

  1. WT1. Is it who you know? Looking for patterns of investments on the World Bank Open Financial Data.
  2. WT2. Designing scaling into online collaboration
  3. WT3. Tracking a democratic conversation across different online media
  4. WT4. Managing diversity in social networks or Organizational adaptation to the threat of exit of key members

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Countdown: Masters of Networks

Author: Alberto Cottica Tags: , , , Comments: 0 Date: 16 Jan 2013
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In this final runup to Masters of Networks – coming up next week – we have made a lot of progress. First of all, we have assembled and stellar and diverse lineup: policy makers, network scientists, data analysts and programmers from all over the place and all walks of life. Meet the Masters at this page. Second, we have agreed on the policy questions that we want to tackle, and turned them into what we call worktracks. And finally, we have assigned a “core team” to each worktrack to make sure each question receives due attention. People not assigned to a core team are free to wander as they choose. In the final session, we’ll all present to each other. All is left is to go in and just do it! Here is a list of worktracks:

WT1. Is it who you know? We test for evidence of brokerage (rather than proposal quality) in access to EU regional development grants or other sources of public funding. Read more. Question masters: Tito Bianchi, Millie Begovic, Stefano Bertolo. Network scientists: Bruno Pinaud, Marie-Luce Viaud. Data Analyst: Michele Pezzoni. Programmer: Benjamin Renoust.

WT2. Designing scaling into online collaboration. We look for signs that management decisions in a recent public consultation have led to scalability, in the form of the emergence of specialized subcommunities. We’ve got data here! Read more. Question masters: Alberto Cottica and Marco Bani. Network scientists: Fernando Vega-Redondo, Guy Melançon. Data Analyst: Raffaele Miniaci. Programmer: Dario Bottazzi.

WT3. Tracking a democratic conversation across different online media. If we accept a description of Social Media as being a ‘Networked Public’ then understanding the networks that make up the informal civic conversation around either a topic or a geography is vital to ensure this more open contribution. Read more. Question masters: Catherine Howe and Ade Adewunmi. Network scientists: Matteo Fortini, Gaia Marcus

WT4. Managing diversity in social networks or Organizational adaptation to the threat of exit of key members. Question master: Sergio Currarini. Network scientists: Michele Pezzoni, Marco Bani.

The event is fully booked: we can’t accept any latecomers, sorry! But we will blog and let you know about it.

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Tito Bianchi – an economist working for the Italian ministry of economic development – wants Masters of Networks to look into EU regional development policies. Tito’s unit focuses on the Italian less-developed Mezzogiorno, an areas that shares some features with developing countries: and that includes traditionally opaque mechanisms for allocating public sector grants. In his own words:

I would like to test the validity of statements that are often made with regard to my policy domain of interest – the EU regional development policies – that funds are often granted more based on personal connections, sometimes degenerating in outright clientelism or corruption, than on project quality. Formally, most projects are funded after a competitive selection process that should reward project quality consisting in some kind of positive externality or dynamic social economic effect. This process should be explicit and transparent in almost the totality of the cases of subsidies to private firm investments.  However, in the public discourse it is often heard the voice of those who argue that the quality of project proposals is less important than reputation or connections of the applicant: “it is always the same people who have access to the funds, it’s who you know..”.

My hypothesis is that, while cases of malfeasance and inappropriate behavior of institutions in charge of funds’ management exist, especially in underdeveloped areas the public the public perception of the incidence of these cases exceeds the real proportions of the phenomenon.  The reason why the perception of clientelism may be greater than it’s real magnitude is twofold:

  1. most projects are filed in with the help of consultants.  Those consultants/intermediaries have skills that are fungible: they consist in knowledge of the procedures through which funds are awarded, how to fill the forms, what the regulations prescribe, etc…  In competing with each others’ for clients who want to submit investment proposals for funding, these consultants have an incentive to induce them to think that funds are awarded based on personal connections and that they possess the right connections.  The view that the selection process is fair and competitive reduces their market power.
  2. the losers of competitive selection processes have an incentive in spreading the view that this process is unfair, to account for their lack of success.

This is no small issue and goes at the root of the development process itself. In underdeveloped regions the reputation of government policies for being corrupt discourages effort and investment, thus perpetuating economic and social backwardness.  If the system is known to be corrupt and rewards rent-seeking more than the pursuit of new projects, I would rather put my effort  in unproductive activities than in those that produce wealth and social benefits.  Conversely, if we were able to demonstrate that unfair allocation of public resources is the exception and not the rule, well-motivated people would be more incentivized  to act and compete for public subsidies and rent-seekers less inclined to spend their time trying to bend public decision in the direction of their own interest.

The database of ALL regional development policy projects in Italy (2007-2013) is searchable at: www.opencoesione.it, and fully downloadable at: http://www.dps.tesoro.it/opencoesione/ml_en.asp. I hope to see many of you in Venice!

Masters of Networks is a workshop that brings together cutting-edge policy makers and network scientists. We aim to come up with a specification in terms of networks of some public policy problems, and a viable strategy to address them in new ways. Information and registration here.

Masters of Networks – the next upcoming INSITE event – is almost entirely invested into hands-on-work by interdisciplinary groups made by network scientists, policy makers, computer programmers and data analysts. We now have secured the participation of some of the top people in their respective areas of expertise (a post on that is forthcoming); time to gear up for planning the workshop part. We will select a certain number of public policy problems, each proposed and presented by a participant; and try to build a new strategy  to understand and solve it based on network science. If the problem comes with data, even better: we can play around with them and quickly prototype candidate solutions. We shall work in teams, making sure each team incorporates people from all areas of expertise.

I am going to make a first move and propose a worktrack 1 (more tracks to be announced soon):  to work on the problem of designing scaling into online collaboration. Democratic governments, pressured by the rapidly escalating complexity of the public decisions at hand, are increasingly turning to the Internet as a platform  that promises to recruit the citizenry’s collective intelligence in a cheap, fast, effective way. 2012 saw an impressive increase in the number of online citizen consultations held in Europe. Unfortunately, it turns out participation does not scale well. More participants to a citizen consultation – and more interaction among them – means more intellectual firepower, but also greater costs to the individual participant to stay on top of the conversation. Anything that helps to scale many-to-many online conversation is going to be an useful contribution to making government smarter and democracy stronger (see the video for a full explanation).

And… we’ve got data! They come from a project called Edgeryders, in which the Council of Europe created an open online community to produce a policy document of recommendations to reform youth policy in Europe. The community worked through an online platform (essentially a blog network with assignments) from late 2011 to late 2012. There were about 250 active members, exchanging about 4,000 comments on each other’s posts. This dataset can be thought of as a social network, because people are commenting other people. So, we have:

  • network data on who is talking to whom in the Edgeryders community
  • data on what the topic of the conversation was in each comment (not in the video)

The project’s management team was aware of the scaling problem, and attempted to reduce the noise perceived by participants by introducing the topics sequentially rather than all at the same time. From the data we know that the  network partitions quite well in subcommunities; the typical participant interacts mostly with people in her own subcommunity. Since subcommunities are small, people can participate in Egderyders without feeling overwhelmed by the volume of interactions to keep track of. The questions is: do subcommunities “specialize”, debating some topics more than others? Can the Edgeryders management team claim credit for a rather clean-cut partition? In other words, can we detect a signature of the decision to introduce topics sequentially in the pattern of subcommunities we observe?

If you want to explore the issue, you can download data and code to process it from our Github repository. Or you can show up at Masters of Networks, of course!