The EU has 1,883 digital social innovation (DSI) organisations, with initiatives using emerging and established technologies, from wikis and crowdfunding to blockchain and machine learning, all aimed at engaging citizens in collaboratively improving public services and revitalising civic life, according to analysis conducted by innovation agency Nesta.
However, societies aren’t making the most of DSI’s potential with examples of such initiatives achieving impact at scale few are far between. Barriers to growth include the availability/accessibility of funding and skills, along with limited uptake of DSI by the public sector and established civil society organisations, says the What Next for Digital Social Innovation report.
But Nesta says it has seen a number of ways in which these challenges are being addressed, with funding and support systems maturing in the UK and France, while cities like Barcelona are pioneering ways to integrate DSI into public services.
“Barcelona is also a centre of the maker movement, focused on the FabLab Barcelona, one of Europe’s biggest and whose founders have been central to the growth of the FabLab movement across the continent,” the report says. “It also has three city-backed makerspaces, called Ateneus de Fabricació, which offer educational, family and social innovation programmes.”
The city has launched the Make in Barcelona brand, and Barcelona is this month holding its first citywide Maker Faire, showcasing over 200 projects and welcoming world-class speakers, with the support of the City Council.