After a global call for innovative approaches to governance issues, we have 50 semi-finalist teams for our 2016 Global Innovation Competition.
Their project ideas were screened by our team and voted for by the public – with votes cast from across the globe, including from Hawaii, Finland, Nigeria, Nepal, Kenya and Japan.
In early 2016 we’ll be down to 20 finalists, who will work with expert mentors and, finally, pitch their ideas to our GIC jury.
Here are our thoughts on the submissions and what they are telling us about how is using innovation and technology for governance, and how.
Being innovative often doesn’t mean being high tech
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: for Making All Voices Count, innovation applies to new ways of working, thinking, collaborating and delivering. It’s not about the latest app, or what we might think of as ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’ (people easily distracted by what’s ‘new and shiny’) but about asking how new approaches can help tackle old and entrenched issues.
In our GIC2015 , five out of the eight winners were using radio; the right technology for their audiences - see their videos here. For GIC2016, our top 50 ideas are largely re-purposing what’s out there – free online mapping platforms, SMS, radio and face-to-face communication.
With increased platforms for sharing information about what we're all doing, the appetite for reinventing the wheel may finally be diminishing.
Local governance is getting more attention from groups using tech – and tech is getting more attention from groups working on local governance
As access to phones and lower cost internet access increases and tech-literacy grows, the competition has seen less submissions for aggregating ‘big data’ and more focus on local level initiatives.
Nearly half of the ideas submitted for the 2016 Global Innovation Competition are looking at elements of local governance. With devolution reforms sweeping across many of the Making All Voices Count focus countries, we’re seeing more local-level use of technology, from radio programmes connecting women to their members of parliament on a regular basis, to parents sending SMSs to a public dashboard that tracks whether teachers turn up at their local school.
There are more opportunities for partnerships than ever before… but there is a geographic bias
Over the last two years of the competition, we've seen several successful partnerships between organisations and individuals based in the US and Europe, and groups in Africa and Asia. However we’re not seeing many partnerships between organisations based in South America, Africa and Asia.
We haven’t yet asked our finalists why not - look out for posts from the GIC2016 week in Accra - but, consistent with last years’ trend, barriers are clearly there.
The Global Innovation Competition team will keep reporting on which ideas make it through to our final in Ghana, as well as what we’re learning about the finalists.
See the projects' ideascale submissions in full: