Open Innovation; the key to change  - #SMWmilan Open Innovation; the key to change  - #SMWmilan

Open Innovation; the key to change - #SMWmilan

Collective intelligence, Crowdfunding and Open Data: the power of a crowd  

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Never before have Open Innovation practices been focused on revolutionising the life of companies and the Public Administration sector, having real effects on the everyday life of citizens.

But why right now? New mobile technologies and social networks have made the push for change that comes from below, from people, even stronger.

How are Public Administrations, private individuals and companies organising themselves to harness this strength and fully exploit the social and economic potential involved?

A concrete case study - “There is no funding without a crowd”

Let’s take a successful Italian case as an example, which can give us a dimension of the phenomenon: the crowdfunding campaign for the International Journalism Festival (IFF).

Crowdfunding (the process of collective financing via the Web) is an activity that is now well-known and practised abroad, and also widespread in Italy. It has recently been successfully used for the International Journalism Festival, a benchmark, for professionals and others in the journalism and information sector, which was in danger of dying out due to economic unsustainability and lack of funds. Thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that was launched on the Web by organisers and supported by journalists and influencers, the collection via the Web involved citizens and ordinary people. What was the result? “115,420 euros collected by 749 funders who contributed with donations of from 10 to 20,000 euros; even a school participated!” explains Chiara Spinelli, a crowdfunding expert, who followed the campaign in question as a consultant.

But beware: crowdfunding is not “a magic wand, it is not an answer to the economic crisis”, warns Chiara. It is a new way of thinking and acting in line with the Sharing Economy philosophy. And in Italy obstacles still need to be overcome in terms of infrastructures, the digital divide and confidence in online payments.

The role of companies

Companies are also moving in the direction of greater openness towards Open Innovation.

Telecom Italia has been doing this since 2009 with its Working Capital project. In addition to activities to support and develop the digital business eco-system, it has started new initiatives: “Last year, Working Capital made tools available to facilitate the marketing of products and services offered by selected startups, allowing them to enrol on the register of suppliers of Gruppo Telecom Italia”, explained Ulderico Pacchiarotti - Operational Manager of the Working Capital project by Telecom Italia. It also introduced crowdfunding to support startups, via a special platform connected to the Working Capital website.

In addition to providing training tools and funding, it is also very important for Working Capital to select the most innovative startups, those that will be the companies of the future. “The Open Data issue is very interesting, and represents the future. But then we must also consider Open Hardware: industry is carefully watching this world, and this year we also expect many projects in this area”.

Open Data and Public Administration

Public data are a huge asset to be enhanced. When they become “open”, they can be re-used and transformed into projects of social and economic value. This is the goal set by the Municipality of Milan with its Open Data project.

Open Data products for administrative processes ended up in digital or printed files. We started from the assumption that the data are the result of the community, therefore they should be returned, making them open and accessible”, explained Matteo Massenzio – Central Management of Information Systems and Digital Agenda of the Municipality of Milan.

This led to the creation of the Open Data Portal of the Municipality.

The website contains sets of numerical and geographical data made available and freely accessible to everyone. Personal and electoral data, data about businesses, cycle paths, swimming pools and museums, park and ride facilities and pedestrian areas: these are just some examples of data “released” by the Municipality on the new portal. Il sito contiene gruppi (set) di dati, numerici o geografici, messi a disposizione e liberamente fruibili da tutti. Dati anagrafici ed elettorali, sugli esercizi commerciali e le piste ciclabili, sulle piscine e i musei, sui parcheggi d’interscambio e le aree pedonali: sono solo alcuni esempi dei dati “liberati” dal Comune sul nuovo portale.

It is a step forward for the digital agenda of Milan, which, after Open Wi-Fi and Digital Islands, also includes another important aspect.