SOCIETY | Oct 24, 2017

Citizens active in the development of innovative public services

Story of an idea that turned into an app

The trials promoted by an innovation project co-funded by the European Union,  Welive, gives citizens, named Mario and Heloise in our story, the opportunity to test and validate a new approach to interaction between citizens and public administration aimed at innovating the public services sector.

What does the new approach involve?

The new approach is based on a complete virtual environment for collaborative creation of services and apps that enhance the open data and services available. It is inspired by the principles of open and collaborative innovation of Open Innovation and Co-Innovation, as well as the most innovative sciences for the creation of collaborative services, (Service Co-Creation).

The approach seeks to make positive use of collective intelligence and fosters bottom-up emergence of the users of services themselves, and of proposals and solutions, with the aim of accelerating innovation and making it more responsive to the real needs of those who live the territory on a daily basis.

Dialogue starts with his municipality

As part of the trials, Mario has a new tool for dialoguing with his municipality: the Open Innovation Area. He thus decides to use it to report a service he needs. In particular, given that he is allergic, Mario would like to have the list of public gardens available with the lowest levels of pollution and allergens. The municipality reads the proposal published by Mario in the Open Innovation Area and, considering it interesting, decides to publish two datasets in Open Data format: one containing information on public gardens (including location, caption, services available, etc.) and another that provides periodic readings of air quality parameters in the city. Moreover, still using the Open Innovation Area, the municipality launches a contest to gather ideas of services that can meet the need of Mario and subsequently implement the best.

The Contest

The transparency of the contest is guaranteed within the Open Innovation Area through the introduction of the rules that govern it and continuous updating of the information concerning it, such as state, feedback received and evaluation obtained.

A large number of users proposing some very original ideas take part in the contest. Among these, the most voted and appreciated, including by a team of experts, is the idea of Heloise, which proposes the creation of a smartphone application that enables displaying public gardens and pollution levels on a map while on the move. Given the success obtained by Heloise’s idea, it is promoted by the municipality for moving on to the state of implementation.

The idea is transformed into an app

Heloise can now invite other Open Innovation Area users to collaborate with her on defining the features of the app to be implemented. To develop the app, Heloise and her team use another tool made available through the experimentation: the Visual Composer.

The Visual Composer allows Heloise and her collaborators to speed up and simplify implementation of the app by adopting a visual modeling-oriented approach and reuse of resources already available, eliminating the need to develop executable code approaches (no-coding approach). The working group gets down to work and collaborates on modeling of the app’s graphical interface and composition of the information to be represented, that is, on the mashup of datasets on gardens and environmental surveys that the municipality has previously made available in Open Data format.

The app is ready and shared with all citizens

With the implementation phase completed, the co-created app can be published through the Open Innovation Area, in Marketplace where it is possible to find all the resources that the municipality and developers intend to make visible for being enjoyed by citizens, gather feedback or be reused in creating new services. On Marketplace you can find: open data, web services, web applications and smartphone applications, and today these include the app created thanks to the collaboration of Mario, Heloise and her team and the municipality.

The WeLive project

Scenarios like the one described above were the result of experiments carried out under the progetto Welive. This is a project co-funded by the European Commission, under the H2020 Program, which aims to bridge the gap between public administrations and citizens by developing a new approach and providing a set of tools (Open Innovation Area, Visual Composer and Marketplace) aimed at supporting interaction between citizens and public administration and innovation of the public services sector.

During the project, the pilot cities (Bilbao, Novisad, Trento and Helsinki) organized several occasions for meeting (such as hackathons and tematic round tables) on local issues (public transport, environment, healthcare, etc) where citizens, businesses, academies, students and other local players were invited to participate in idea competitions for proposing new city services or improving those already existing just like in the scenario described above. The trials were very successful: for example, during the hackathon held in Trento from 20 December 2016 to 20 January 2017, 37 ideas were collected in the Open Innovation Area, many of which were of high value. The best of these were awarded and some have also been implemented and published as smartphone applications .

Recently the pilot city of Bilbao organized a hackaton finalizzato a migliorare i servizi della città e a proporne di nuovi, da realizzare attraverso il Visual Composer. Per la presentazione delle soluzioni realizzate e la premiazione delle migliori occorrerà aspettare il 24 novembre .

Giovanni Aiello e Piersaverio Spinnato