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Introduction

The past few years have seen a rapid growth in the number of people using digital technologies to tackle social challenges in areas ranging from healthcare and education to democracy and the environment. This phenomenon, which we call digital social innovation (DSI), aims to:

  • reorient technology to social ends, and to harness it to improve lives and benefit the many rather than the few;
  • empower citizens to take more control over their lives, and to use their collective knowledge and skills to positive effect;
  • make government more accountable and transparent;
  • foster and promote alternatives to the dominant technological and business models — alternatives which are open and collaborative rather than closed and competitive;
  • use technology to create a more environmentally sustainable society.

Despite the many inspiring initiatives taking place across Europe and the world, relatively few have grown to deliver positive social impact at scale, for a range of reasons which we and others have explored in depth.

About the DSI4EU project

The latest phase of DSI4EU, running from January 2018 to June 2019, is being carried out by a consortium of seven partner organisations: Nesta (UK), Waag (Netherlands), betterplace lab (Germany), Fab Lab Barcelona (Spain), WeMake (Italy), Barcelona Activa (Spain) and the ePaństwo Foundation (Poland). Find out more about the partners here.

Over the next year and a half, we will be carrying out a range of activities to support DSI in Europe.

The digitalsocial.eu platform

At the heart of the project is the digitalsocial.eu platform, a lively hub for DSI through which users can:

Sign up now to create a profile for your organisation and profile.

DSI clusters

Alongside the digitalsocial.eu platform, partner organisations are coordinating six thematic DSI clusters. Within each cluster, we are organising a programme of events, learning and networking opportunities and engaging with policymakers to advocate for committed and effective DSI support.

The clusters are based around the following social areas:

Get in touch with [email protected] if you’d like to speak to any of the cluster leads.

Knowledge sharing and new connections

With seven partners in six countries and several years’ experience working on DSI, we aim to be a knowledge hub for DSI in Europe. A key part of our role, therefore, is to be a point of contact for anyone who wants to know more about DSI — connecting you to new people, directing you to relevant research and resources, and running events to share knowledge and facilitate networking opportunities.

Follow us on Twitter @DSI4EU and sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with our events and other opportunities.

Policy and research

We believe that influencing policy at different levels is essential to supporting DSI to grow and scale its impact. Therefore, over the course of the project we are engaging with policymakers and key influencers at the European, national and city levels to shape the future of DSI. Furthermore, we are developing an experimental index of how policymakers are supporting DSI across Europe, which aims to highlight best practice and spur collaboration between countries and cities.

Finally, we are carrying out exciting research into emerging technologies like blockchain and artificial intelligence and assessing what they mean for DSI. We are analysing emerging trends and building different future scenarios for DSI, with the aim to help shape a more positive future which harnesses technology for positive social impact.

Get involved!

We want to support the breadth of Europe’s growing DSI community — including practitioners, charities interested in technology-driven solutions, policymakers, funders and engaged citizens. We want to engage with people from across the continent — from Dublin to Dubrovnik, from Rome to Riga.

Here are a some of the ways you can get involved. We’d love to hear from you!

  • Create a profile on digitalsocial.eu. By making a profile for your organisation and/or project on the digitalsocial.eu website, you'll make yourself more visible to citizens, commissioners, funders and new contacts. We want the platform to be the most comprehensive directory of digital social innovation in Europe, and we need your help to get there.
  • Drop us an email. We are always keen to speak to people working on DSI, to explore potential collaborations, to help share your work, to speak at and attend events, or just to exchange experiences and lessons.
  • Follow us on Twitter and sign up to our newsletter.

Openness and transparency

We are committed to openness and transparency within DSI4EU. Therefore, all of the non-personal data on the digitalsocial.eu platform is open and accessible, and the source code behind the platform and data visualisation is available open-source on GitHub. The digitalsocial.eu platform is free to use.

Furthermore, we are committed to writing about and communicating our activities regularly through blogs and open publication of our project deliverables.

Please get in touch if you have any further questions about the project.

DSI4EU is the operating name for the project formally known as DSISCALE. DSISCALE is a project led by Nesta and delivered in partnership with the Waag, betterplace lab, Fab Lab Barcelona, WeMake, Barcelona Activa and the ePaństwo Foundation.

DSISCALE is supported by the European Union and funded under the Horizon 2020 Programme, grant agreement no 780473. DSISCALE is part of the CAPS programme.

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