Posts tagged ‘social innovation’

December 3, 2011

Joana Conill, Manuel Castells and Àlex Ruiz produced a new and interesting documentary that collects stories, cases and reflections on a different way of running economy and life. it’s about services, it is about new currencies, it is about local and sustainable production and consumption, lifestyles, social innovation,and many other things

April 6, 2009

Help finding scenarios

I’m organising a project on tracking systems for elderly people. The scenario is as follow:

Elderly people, their relatives, friends and assistance personnel living in a specific area can carry a GPS device (it maybe their own mobile phone) which make it possible to visualise their position on a map (maybe google maps). They can also send short messages as in Twitter or Google Latitude. The visualisation may be possible both on a mobile phone screen or on a computer at home, possibly using applications like facebook (or any other application that support any kind of social interaction).

I’m trying to figure out how this scenario could define new services for 

  • functional use (i.e. telemedicine, assistance services, ask for help)
  • Persona use (i.e. reassurance when living alone)
  • Social networking (i.e. inviting people for lunch, going out for a walk)


So, this is a call for contribution: any idea about how to use this opportunity?

I promise that I will publish a list of all the possible scenarios on this blog. We may also think of an award for the best idea, but if I promise for instance a trip to Aalborg I’m not sure I will have too many contributions.

February 16, 2009

Google latitude:the net becomes local

I was waiting for it, and finally, here it is: a google maps application to connect maps with mobile phones, in order to “trace” people’s geographical location.  the application is Google Latitude, With this applicatio you can locate your mobile phone on a google map and you can also see where your friends and family are (provided that they want to make themselves traceable). You can exchange messages with them and you can decide upon activities to do. In the past there were other applications, such as Brightkite, which had similar funzionalities, but this application on Google seems more powerful to me, because it directly works on google maps, which is now commonly known by many people.

Why is it so innovative?

Because I think this is just the beginning of a big conceptual change in the use of the internet and Web 2:0 applications. So far those applications have been relatively indefferent to geographical locations, you could chat with friends on the other side of the world or those next door, but their position was not relevant, after all. Of course in facebook and with Twitter people were sometimes using messaging to take appointment or to exchange information about local happenings, this means that there was a need to bring context-neutral Web2:0 applications to reality, to local contexts. With goolge latitude people can have a rapid view of what is going on in their city/neighbourhood, check what their friends closeby are doing, and possibly retrieve local-related knowledge. In other worlds this application has a huge potential to support geographically placed communities, to support active social participation to local life, to generate social innovation

I’m thinking of using those applications for elderly people living indepdently, this should be a research project, however, at the moment I’m looking at other users of latitude, to check the potential of this application. Anyone around?

November 16, 2008

Radiomamma, improving life quality and creating social innovation

Whoever can read Italian and has an interest in social innovation should have a look at Radiomamma: a network of people living in Milan, who are sick and tired of a tremendous situation in which they have no assistance from public services and decided to help each other in finding solutions to very simple problems for everyday.

Radiomamma is a website for parents and grandparents who exchange information about new places and infrastructures for their kids and about places where it is possible to walk with a pram with no architectural barriers (and this is quite rare in Milan). There is also the possibility of generating a network of trust, exchanging little favors, and suggest family-friendly guided tours to museums. Of course Radiomamma also have a youtube channel. In other words, the small networks of people meeting everyday in the park with their kids is not transferred on the web and becomes much more powerful.


In fact this shift also creates something new, and here is, in my opinion, the power of the initiative. By using a special label for trusted shops, the network is proposing a perspective shift for service providers: kids should no longer be seen as a problem but as an opportunity: those who are granted with the blue label of Radiomamma will be the preferred shops for parents and grandparents in the network. Of course the initiative is a good chance for families to improve the quality of their life, and even a stressing city like Milan may become a little bit easier to live in.

The shops and service providers who want to get the label can make a test on the radiomamma website, to assess their level of family friendliness.

All this, in my opinion makes Radiomamma as a good example of a promising bottom-up initiative.

November 13, 2008

Saying Hello – design for ageing


A project called “saying hello” was funded in Wigan Borough UK and developed at the university of Salford, with the aim of working in partnership with elderly people, healthcare authoroties and voluntary agencies on investigating ways in which ageing people manage potential and actual loneliness and isolation and strategies to prevent and reduce loneliness.

I found several innovative good things in this project:

  1. The project used voluntary researchers for interviewing ageing people. The nice things is that voluntary researchers were themselves in the same age range of those who have been interviewed. This made the relationship between people and researchers much tighter. It was much easier for those researchers to capture tacit knowledge from the ageing people and interpret/translate this knowledge for the researchers; furthermore the familiarity between voluntary researchers and ageing people involved in the project will increase the possibility of keeping this relationship even after the end of the research project
  2. The outcome of the project was not (or perhaps not only) a report or tables with data, but a radio-play, in which six actors played a script written by the ageing people themselves. The use of this medium was very interesting. As the researchers say in the video, ageing people are not used to reports or tables of data, but they are much more familiar with television programs or radio programs. It is much easier for them to relate to this medium.
  3. In orther to create the script for the video, people were asked to write down sentences about their life, their routines and their feeling, thus having one more opportunity to reflect about what really matters in their life and for the problems related to their loneliness and isolation.

Info about the project, including an interesting video and the radio play developed in the project can be found At the project website


October 3, 2008


How many of us leave in homes full of stuff we do not use any more (or we have never used?). How many of us have kids that outgrow their clothes after few weeks and would like to save on those clothes?

We usually exchange this stuff with our friends or relatives, however a sort of “marketplace” for exchanging those items would make our life easier and possibly fun. Exchanging stuff may be a good excuse for exchanging thoughts, having a chat with new people.

From my point of view (that of an academic working on social systems at the local scale) this would be a good strategy for activating local systems: you do not want to exchange your second hand clothes with someone on the other side of the world, but you may want to know who has small kids in your area, especially if you are new of the area.

I found a site called UandItrade which seems to address those needs. Check it out!

The system works without money, it is just based on trade credits, which is also good: you don’t want to be obsessed by money, and after all, you do not build social relationship when money is involved!

It’s a pity it is a bit far from our Europeans, but it would be nice to know about similar systems in EU.

By the way, I’d like to share my thoughts with Matt Wilbourne, which informed me about this site, but I don’t know how to contact him, he just left a comment on this blog, and I read it after 2 months