Categories
GovLab Blog Wiki Update

A Snapshot of the GovLab Wiki: Case Studies on Collaboration, Crowdsourcing, Expert Networking and Local Government Innovation

As part of an ongoing effort to build a knowledge base for the field of opening governance, the GovLab Wiki provides a collaborative repository of information and research at the nexus of technology, governance and citizenship. Every two weeks, The GovLab Blog will publish a snapshot of recent additions posted to the wiki. The following is a summary and collection of key findings from recent entries posted by GovLab Research and two student teams taking part in the GovLab Capstone at NYU Wagner.
WE NEED YOU: Please help us advance the field’s knowledge base by improving what we have and  sharing your insights and research on the GovLab Wiki.

Highlights

Our latest updates to the wiki focus on platforms for engaging the crowd, finding and engaging expertise and innovating at the local level – from improved hyperlocal city news to reducing strain on hospital emergency rooms.

  • Tools for collaboration, like GitHub, have exploded in popularity over the course of the last four years – both in terms of active users and engagement on the platforms by those users.
  • Crowdsourcing is increasingly being used a tool for addressing public problems and needs. SeeClickFix, for example, is helping local governments intelligently address problems affecting their citizens, and, perhaps surprisingly, these citizen-identified problems are being addressed in large numbers. Neighbor.ly, on the other hand, provides local governments with a platform for raising funding for public projects with demonstrated importance to citizens.
  • Tools for identifying and engaging individuals with specific skills or interests – whether in terms of job experience, like LinkedIn, Futures.inc and oDesk; charitable interests, like Catchafire; or academic research focus, like ResearchGate – are becoming more prevalent, demonstrating the growing interest in such abilities across sectors.
  • Tools for providing hyperlocal information, like EveryBlock, and personally relevant data, like Propellor Health can help improve citizens’ use of public services ranging from emergency rooms to community cultural centers.

Key Findings

Catchafire matches professionals who want to volunteer their skills with nonprofits who need their help. These skills and tasks range from help with branding, fundraising and report writing, for organizations across the wide spectrum of nonprofit field.

  • As of 2013, Catchafire volunteers had given roughly 3,600 hours, worth some $600,000 to the non-profits that “hired” them. A selection of successful case studies featured on Catchafire’s main page show savings for organizations representing anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000.

EveryBlock is a web start up that provided hyperlocal and even “microlocal” news for urban cities.

  • Key finding: EveryBlock Chicago, allowed residents to track a variety of information related to particular neighborhoods and provides tools for users to converse with neighbors. It combined data from official crime reports with neighborhood discussion, and citizen-sourced photos taken in neighborhoods to provide a greater situational picture of Chicago’s neighborhoods. By combining crime information with other useful neighborhood information – like building permits, restaurant inspections and media mentions – EveryBlock provides Chicago citizens with a one-stop destination for public safety and general lifestyle information.

Futures.Inc is a wholesale provider of talent matching technology that partners with companies to develop advanced talent exchanges.

  • Key finding: Futures uses a Pipeline engine, patented algorithms, and structured information models to distill thousands of data objects in real time to present employers with the most qualified candidates first. The Pipeline engine offers a 24/7 user-friendly platform for career exploration, interest and skills assessment, education and training, and direct access to regional job postings. It also translates approximately 9,300 military occupational specialty job description codes to match them with civilian job openings.

GitHub is an open-source website intended to encourage collaboration among software developers around the world. The site acts as both a repository for projects and as a knowledge base for users to build better code by working together and sharing ideas.

  • Key finding: GitHub boasts over 5.9 million users and over 12.5 million repositories housed on the site as of early 2014. This is especially impressive considering that the company announced the 1 millionth repository in a blog post on July 25, 2010.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site that provides users with a way to connect to other individuals both within and across industries through the creation of a virtual resume called a ‘Profile’.
Key findings:

  • LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network. It has over 277 million members in more than 200 countries and 19 languages with 2 new members joining every second. There are currently 149 fields and industries represented on the site.
  • The site also allows recruiters and human resources staff to vet individuals before they decide to arrange an interview. In a recent survey conducted by JobVite, LinkedIn was found to be overwhelmingly the top choice of HR and recruiting specialists. The survey revealed that more than 90% of recruiters listed LinkedIn as their tool to find, vet, and track potential employees.

Neighbor.ly is a crowdfunding site for local governments, neighborhoods, and certain civic-natured nonprofits.

  • As of March 30, 2014, Neighbor.ly has raised $1.45 million for 30 projects in 24 communities with 2,300 contributers. The site has a stated three-year impact goal of helping 1,000 communities fund 10,000 projects by raising $1 billion+.

oDesk is a web-based company that serves as a resource to connect clients with potential experts in various industries to complete projects for hire in a secure environment without having any prior relationship. The online marketplace fulfills the hire-on-demand needs for a flexible workforce without the need for permanent hiring.

  • Key finding: As of June 2013, the company has 3.1 million independent freelancers in its network has featured 3.6 million jobs posted since inception, mostly small companies. While oDesk’s top competitor, Elance has raised far more funding ($78 million compared to oDesk’s $44 million), oDesk’s cumulative freelancer earning estimate is higher ($920 million, compared to Elance at $739 million).

Propellor Health is a mobile platform for respiratory health management designed to help patients and their physicians better understand and control respiratory disease to reduce preventable emergency room visits and hospitalizations.

  • Key finding: Propeller applies data to solve one of the most pressing public health concerns – asthma and COPD – including sharing data, putting data in the hands of patients, leveraging aggregated and anonymous data and linking health data to place. Through sensors, mobile apps and services, Propeller aims to reduce the cost of care while delivering better quality of life for individuals with chronic respiratory disease. Studies found a 50 percent  decrease in uncontrolled asthma among users. 

ResearchGate is a social network dedicated to science and research. It is an online space for scientists and researchers to connect, collaborate and discover scientific publications, jobs and conferences for free.

  • Key finding: The site is designed to facilitate collaborations and data sharing among scientists around the world, has raised $35 million from investors including Bill Gates. It  boasts 2.8 million users.Earlier this year, ResearchGate reported that approximately 12,342 questions were answered in their 4,000 topics in 2011 alone.

SeeClickFix is a multifaceted citizen reporting engine featuring user-generated information in a wide variety of areas. The site’s Web 2.0-like interface provides a wealth of information on a given issue, and allows for users to interact with existing problems on the site, potentially amplifying their importance for governments.

  • Key finding: SeeClickFix was integrated with Chicago’s 311 system to become the official means of citizen reporting in the city. In 2010, at a point when the site was available in 25,000 towns and 8,000 neighborhoods, it was reported that over 45 percent of issues submitted on the site were resolved.

The GovLab Capstone Expertise Team includes: Andrea Arce, Colin Bottles, Lauren Bush and Danielle Emery
The GovLab Capstone Crowdsourcing Team includes: Naomi Adland, Naomi Berlin, Dinorah Cantu Pedraza, Marisse Crenier Del Olmo, Hallie Martin and Chandan Sharma

Categories
GovLab Blog Wiki Update

A Snapshot of The GovLab Wiki: Concepts and Case Studies in Citizen Participation

As part of an ongoing effort to build a knowledge base for the field of opening governance, the GovLab Wiki provides a collaborative repository of information and research at the nexus of technology, governance and citizenship. Every two weeks, The GovLab Blog will publish a snapshot of recent additions posted to the wiki. The following is a summary and collection of key findings from recent entries posted by GovLab Research and two student teams taking part in the GovLab Capstone at NYU Wagner.
WE NEED YOU: Please help us advance the field’s knowledge base by improving what we have and  sharing your insights and research on the GovLab Wiki.

Highlights

Our latest updates to the wiki focus on concepts and case studies related to how institutions can become more legitimate and effective by engaging citizens as participants and collaborators. Evidence suggests that people are willing to engage in small, tangible tasks they view as useful or meaningful in exchange for a sense of contributing to something bigger than themselves.
  • Practices in collective intelligence – groups of individuals doing things collectively that result in “smart” solutions, such as crowdsourcing and open source intelligence – typically take one of three main forms:
    • An information market, where the crowd picks the eventual winner of some type of competition;
    • A widely publicized problem-solving exercise, where some specific problem is broadcast to a large network of potential problem-solvers; and
    • An ideation session, where anyone online can offer a suggestion.
  • Case studies from British Columbia, Canada (first published in the GovLab’s “Reimagining Governance in Practice” benchmarking report), explore online platforms – BC IdeasIdeas 2 Action – that allow the BC government to gain further insight into public opinion and help make citizen-generated policy ideas actionable.
  • Alternatively, citizens can get involved in policy-focused activities directly. Gov Together BC and Zooniverse offer easy ways for people to connect to volunteer opportunities that suit their individual interests, while Adopt-a-Hydrant connects community members to fulfill a real and specific public need.
  • Other organizations target populations with specific skills to collectively contribute to their core missions. For instance, the TED Open Translation Project engages translators in cities across the globe to expand access to the wealth of knowledge contained in the TED community.

Key Findings

Collective intelligence theories attempt to describe the phenomenon in which large, loosely organized groups of individuals come together to solve problems in highly effective ways.

  • Key finding: The intelligent leveraging of collective action offers exciting opportunities to solve problems and generate ideas in more creative, accurate, and efficient ways. However, in both the private and public sectors, more field research is needed on collective intelligence typologies, methods and definitions, as institutions work to discover their own best practices through experience.

BC Ideas is an innovation community and problem-solving marketplace in British Columbia, Canada that grew out of the prize-backed contest Solutions for Strong Communities.

  • Key finding:  Citizens and social entrepreneurs submitted 460 ideas for innovative projects that addressed pressing issues in the region, from health care to the environment. After a panel of judges narrowed the pool to 12 finalists, the online community voted on and selected 3 ideas, which received $15,000 each. Thirty additional ideas were funded by Ashoka Changemakers and their partners.

Ideas 2 Action was a seven-week online consultation that drew new ideas from the public for building a skilled workforce British Columbia.

  • Key finding: The consultation generated 500 contributions, just over 400 comments in the official discussion forum and approximately 100 ideas sent via private email, Twitter and Facebook. The Ideas2Action website provides information on the “125 actions and counting” that were inspired by the citizen consultation period.

GovTogetherBC provides British Columbians with a central location to find government consultation and community volunteering opportunities and get directly involved.

  • Key finding: The site promotes greater government transparency by publishing the full results of completed public consultation projects. British Columbians (or anyone who is interested) can access 119 consultations, 12 of which are currently active. The site also features 12 opportunities for citizens to get involved in their communities as volunteers.

Zooniverse connects volunteers from around the world to a variety of Citizen Science Alliance projects. Participants receive a small amount of targeted training in order to complete tasks such as classification or transcription.

  • Key finding: Zooniverse has over 1 million members participating in 21 active projects on subjects ranging from astronomy to climatology and the humanities.
Adopt-a-Hydrant allows citizens in Boston to claim responsibility for shoveling a fire hydrant after heavy snowfall.
  • Key Finding: The code for the program is public, and is being used by cities to meet other critical needs. For example, Honolulu had citizens adopt tsunami warning sirens to make sure they are working, and Seattle implemented the program for residents to adopt storm drains.

TED Open Translation Project aims to make TED’s full video library accessible to the non-English speaking world, by providing access to subtitles and interactive transcripts on every single video.

  • Key Finding: The Open Translation Project has currently produced 53,081 translations in 104 different languages, written by 11,629 translators.

 
The GovLab Capstone Expertise Team includes: Andrea Arce, Colin Bottles, Lauren Bush and Danielle Emery
The GovLab Capstone Crowdsourcing Team includes: Naomi Adland, Naomi Berlin, Dinorah Cantu Pedraza, Marisse Crenier Del Olmo, Hallie Martin and Chandan Sharma

Categories
GovLab Blog Smarter Governance Wiki Update

A Snapshot of Recent Additions to the GovLab Wiki

As part of an ongoing effort to build a knowledge base for the field of opening governance, the GovLab Wiki provides a collaborative repository of information and research at the nexus of technology, governance and citizenship. Every two weeks, The GovLab Blog will publish a snapshot of recent additions posted to the wiki. The following is a summary and collection of key findings from recent entries posted by GovLab Research and two student teams taking part in the GovLab Capstone at NYU Wagner.
WE NEED YOU: Please help us advance the field’s knowledge base by improving what we have and  sharing your insights and research on the GovLab Wiki.

Highlights

Our latest updates to the Wiki have focused on concepts and case-studies related to the ways institutions can become smarter and innovative by:

  • Leveraging the public’s expertise through Prize-backed Challenges with a focus on the paradigmatic NYC BigApps Challenge example.
  • Learning from open innovation efforts in the private sector. Three organizations recently examined – GroupTalentInnoCentive and TopCoder – provide a financial incentive for participation. In addition, all rely on the crowd for the development and fulfillment of new products and services.
  • Using diverse but related platforms and techniques for strategically identifying who knows what. Case studies of Expert Rank, New York University’s Operations Skills & Talents Database and PatientsLikeMe led to three initial conclusions:
    • Expertise often must be validated by some external mechanism or internal force;
    • A system for identifying and tapping expertise is often only as effective as its users’ input; and
    • To work well, platforms tend to require wide-spread use within their arena of influence.

In addition we also explored the concept of Open Contracting, and the development of tools and innovations within the movement, such as RFP-EZ. Work in this area is helping to produce better results for governments and reduce redundancy within agencies.

Key Findings

Prize-Backed Challenges – a crowdsourcing and open innovation technique that generally relies on monetary prizes to inspire wide participation to help solve particular problems.

  • Key Finding: Prize-backed challenges offer many advantages for government—including paying only for results, establishing an ambitious goal without having to predict which team or approach is most likely to succeed, bringing out-of-discipline perspectives to bear, and stimulating private sector investment that is often much greater than the prize value.

NYC Big Apps – a New York City open data and open innovation competition.

  • Key Findings:
    • The competition has inspired the creation of nearly 240 applications, engaged more than 275,000 unique visitors to the website leading to more than 83,000 people voting on specific apps.
    • More than 60 City agencies, commissions and Business Improvement Districts have made more than 350 new data sets available for NYC BigApps 2013, bringing the total number of raw data sets that will be available to developers to more than 1,000.

GroupTalent – a hiring platform that lists contract-for-hire opportunities so a developer can try out working with a company before they commit to a longer-term job.

  • Key Finding: As of August 2013, GroupTalent had over 6,000 developers and 200 companies participating in its recruiting platform. On average, developers receive $3,000 to $7,000 a week per project.

Innocentive – an open innovation company that solves research and development problems by creating and connecting a global network of problem solvers, and giving cash awards to those who provide the best solutions.

  • Key Finding: More than 1,650 external challenges have been posted, receiving over 40,000 solution submissions, and awards have been distributed to over 1,500 individuals for a total value of $40+ million.

TopCoder – a digital open innovation platform that provides companies and enterprises with access to global talent instantly to develop innovative software applications within a distributive innovation system.

Expert Rank – a newly developed expert-finding technique for online forums that uses an algorithm to evaluate the expertise of users within a specific knowledge community, based on both authored documents and social status within the community.

  • Key Finding: When tested in Microsoft Office discussion groups, 5 of the top 10 experts recommended by Expert Rank corresponded with those acknowledged by community members and Microsoft personnel to be experts.

New York University Operations Skills & Talents Database – a searchable employee database providing members of the NYU Operations unit information on the skills of their coworkers to help aid collaboration.

  • Key Finding: The platform – which has been in place place for over five years, predating many similar efforts – connects over 300 employees in the NYU Operations unit, from human resources professionals to crisis management experts.

PatientsLikeMe – an online platform where patients share their health stories and data, creating a community where all users learn from the experiences of others with similar conditions.

  • Key Finding: Consistent with its goal of altering the course of healthcare provision across the globe, a small survey of PatientsLikeMe users revealed that the site has made it easier for a majority of those surveyed to both communicate with their healthcare team and make decisions about their treatment.

Open Contracting – a movement referring to the norms and practices for increased disclosure and participation in public contracting.

  • Key Findings:
    • The recently developed Open Contracting Partnerships Global Principles cover various aspects of affirmative disclosure, participation, monitoring, and oversight, with the aim of making contracting more competitive and fair, improving contract performance, and securing development outcomes.
    • These Global Principles incentivized the World Bank to make a commitment in 2013 to ensure that their contracts are public.

RFP-EZ – a federal experiment in procurement innovation that helps companies learn about and compete for government contracts.

  • Key Findings:
    • RFP-EZ allows small technology companies to gain easier access to the Federal Government’s nearly $77 billion information technology supply chain, providing a potentially critical revenue stream as they build their operations.
    • On a per-project basis, bids received through the beta version of RFP-EZ (launched in December 2013) were consistently lower than those received through FedBizOpps — over 30% lower on average.

The GovLab Capstone Expertise Team includes: Andrea Arce, Colin Bottles, Lauren Bush and Danielle Emery
The GovLab Capstone Crowdsourcing Team includes: Naomi Adland, Naomi Berlin, Dinorah Cantu Pedraza, Marisse Crenier Del Olmo, Hallie Martin and Chandan Sharma