Written by Matt Stokes
What are we trying to achieve through DSI4EU?
19th March 2018
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At the kick-off meeting of the latest phase of DSI4EU, we spent some time brainstorming what we wanted to achieve through the project: what would success look like? what is the change we want to see? what problems are we trying to tackle and what needs to be done to tackle them?
We came up with over 50 ideas through individual and group brainstorming, and agreed it would be desirable to set ourselves SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goals for the project.
Here we set out the five key areas of impact for DSI4EU, each of which includes a specific SMART goal. The SMART goals should be seen as just one manifestation of success in each impact area. They are intended to act as goals for us as a consortium, as well as a means of ensuring we are transparent and accountable to our stakeholders and those we are trying to support.
Across Europe, DSI - and sister terms like tech for good and social tech - is still relatively little-known. In policymaking circles and among the general public, in particular, DSI is not part of the mainstream consciousness. On the one hand, raising awareness in the policy world is essential to ensure DSI is brought into the public sector and governance and provided with the advocacy and funding it needs to grow. On the other, engagement with DSI from the general public is important given its inherent collaborative and bottom-up nature. Other audiences where awareness is low include civil society organisations and the commercial tech sector.
By the end of the DSI4EU project, we will have demonstrably engaged “unusual suspect” audiences on at least 15 occasions through activities including events, media, blogging and campaigns.
One of the key barriers to the growth of DSI is the fragmented nature of Europe’s DSI ecosystem. Different projects, often working in the same social areas or with similar technologies, are often not connected - across national borders, but even within cities. Furthermore, different groups interested in DSI - policymakers, practitioners, civil society organisations, citizens, funders - are not connected. This fragmentation leads to duplication of efforts, inefficient allocation of resources and funding and, eventually, less impact than could be achieved.
By the end of the DSI4EU project, we will have facilitated over 100 new connections, and to be able to point to at least 10 productive outputs from these new connections (such as new collaborations or knowledge sharing and creation).
Many tools and resources exist for practitioners and other stakeholders working in social innovation, DSI, development, civil society and civic organising. These have been developed by a wide range of organisations across Europe and beyond. However, these have not been collated and are not always well-publicised and accessible. Furthermore, there is still a need for new tools and resources in specific areas.
By the end of the DSI4EU project, we will have collated at least 30 tools and resources for DSI practitioners and other stakeholders, and to have developed at least 3 of our own, including the experimental DSI Index.
Supportive policy is essential for DSI to grow and scale. This includes supportive regulation, availability of funding, dedicated schemes to support DSI and policy to enable access to and flow of data including public sector information, citizen-generated data and corporate data . While examples of proactive and supportive policy are emerging, particularly at the city level, these are still limited and DSI has struggled to attract attention among policymakers working on specific social challenges such as healthcare, climate change or migration.
By the end of the DSI4EU project, we will have concretely influenced policy to become more supportive of DSI in at least 3 cases, and we will have raised awareness of DSI with at least 10 policymakers, units, directorates, ministries or departments.
DSI, and related fields, have received growing attention from researchers in recent years, but they are still understudied. While the DSI4EU project is not an academic research consortium, we believe there is a strong need for research which is accessible and useful to a wide audience. Such research would foster engagement among different stakeholders in DSI and provide a tangible way forward to help grow and scale DSI in Europe.
By the end of the DSI4EU project, we will have created at least 5 research outputs exploring new aspects and areas of DSI, and engaging new communities in the field.