This case study is part of a report we published in April 2018, exploring how “super nodes” support DSI initiatives to grow and scale. You can read the full report here.
Super node: Barcelona Activa
Issue to be resolved
The project tackles the need of creating new Digital Social Innovation-specific pilot projects throughout the city. As the name of the project suggests, the main aim is to promote projects that were also going to happen in order to scale them up and maximize their impact rather than promoting new ideas from the scratch. This action is not only limited to the provision of the grant. All granted projects are closely tracked to ensure that they are technically well executed and properly well communicated.
We created a specific modality for Digital Social Innovation and we paid special attention in trying to differentiate it from the other modalities (local entrepreneurship, local cooperative companies, social innovation and social economy, local employment, digital social innovation). As a result, we got approximately 100 proposals and we chose the best 10 that tackle different citizen’s needs such as digital inclusion, traceable reuse of electronic devices, digital education by using open data, etc.
The evaluation of the proposals involved both external experts and internal staff of the City Council who are familiar with the needs of the citizens. In this way we can ensure the high quality of the projects and that they cover some of the needs of the citizens.
Role of the super node
We involved independent experts in the selection process. We selected projects with high social impact on the citizens of Barcelona. We are performing an intensive monitoring of each project and try to link with experts when they are experiencing bottlenecks and to maximize their impact and its integration. For instance, one of the projects that deals with open data and education experienced problems when trying to access to public schools. We put them in contact with the people that are currently developing the t 69 educational programme for the next year to include the project in it. This way the project is smoothly integrated in the day-to-day education. Other projects need to maximise their dissemination plan so we give them space to present their initiatives and results in those events organized by the City Council that are aligned with the project topic.
- 10 DSI-specific projects granted covering tackling the following needs:
- Data driven education in public schools.
- Social inclusion using open technology.
- Gender digital divide.
- Energy sovereignty.
- Traceable reuse of hardware.
- Pilot open LORA network for open IoT purposes.
- Digitalization of local citizen time banks.
- Data commons at a neighbourhood level.
- Social hackaton to solve neighbourhood needs.
- Small FabLabs in public schools.
- 350k € invested
- Duration of the projects: 1 year
- To maintain the follow-up of the different granted pilot projects.
- To maximize its communication when achieving milestones.
Use a matchfunding approach in the 2019 of the grants. Matchfunding is a new way to manage institutional budgets which provides:
- Legitimacy: Public institutions legitimize their budgets while allowing the citizens to decide and prioritize how public money is used. Creating a space for participation where citizenship promotes and supports initiatives coming from below.
- Participation: Citizens decide to launch projects and choose which projects to support.
- Sustainability: Projects come from neighbourhoods and organized citizenship, in opposition to top-down policies. Communities are behind these projects and they want to make them alive.
- Transparency: Citizens audit the whole process, as they check and visualize instantly how the money is used.
- Success: The success rate rises until more than 90% when the public institution multiply the donation made to the crowdfunding campaigns.
- Learning Lab: While they are in campaign, projects learn as they work collectively, making the project stronger and growing their network.