Tag Archives: government innovation

How to Conquer Distance with Collaboration

WAPOLLong distance relationships are never easy. This is especially true of large-scale organizations which are housed in multiple and varied locations. Sometimes differing locations will have differing needs but more often they have similar struggles. Like the Western Australia Police.

The Western Australia Police recently began using IdeaScale as a method of conquering that distance; namely a distance that covers over 2.5 million square kilometers, including 11 districts and 197 police stations in both urban and rural areas. As a result of their Frontline 2020 initiative, the WAP feels more connected and collaborative than ever. The kilometers between are hardly noticeable with the centralized digital meeting spot to recommend better ways of working, solutions to problems, and collaborate with fellows—regardless of physical location. It also allows workers the opportunity to note the similarities amongst themselves, to realize that they are not as isolated as they might physically feel sometimes.

As Deputy Commissioner Steven Brown relayed, one of the best outcomes of Frontline 2020 has been the ability for all members of their workforce to have one central location to identify “the things that make it hard for them to get their jobs done,” things which the Deputy Commissioner says are often easy to fix once they are known. In essence, the program allows for everyone in the community to feel heard and respected in the process. Moreover, the WAP emphasizes their appreciation for the participation of their workforce by responding to every suggestion, and incentivizing with the possibility for small prizes.

In addition to a more engaged, collaborative workforce, the ideas coming from Frontline 2020 have already had a positive impact on the administrative and logistical side as well, saving thousands of hours of work time.

To find out more about the Western Australia Police and Frontline 2020, click here to download the recent case study.

Citizen City Planning

citizen city planningHave you ever had an idea that would make the city you live in better? Chances are you have. Did you have the opportunity to share your idea with the decision makers of your city, and feel like you were heard? Chances are you haven’t, which is kind of strange given that citizen city planning is one of the most effective, useful, advantageous options for city planning.

In an IdeaScale study, three particular advantages to crowdsourced planning were surfaced: quicker changes, less risky changes, and appreciated improvements.

In December, we looked more in depth at a government agency that exemplified the two latter advantages. The Fairfax County Parks Authority recently entered a multiple-stage campaign to acquire ideas, evaluate, and enact improvements to the parks. This campaign will allow for the Parks Authority to be sure that changes are appreciated; after all, if the changes were suggested by citizens, those citizens are likely to appreciate them! Further, if citizens have the opportunity to examine the ideas put forth by the Parks Authority itself, those citizens are more prepared for the potential outcomes and are able to provide input along the way.

While the Fairfax County Parks Authority is moving slowly and steadily through the process, there are definitely instances where the “quicker changes” advantage applies. For example, the planning initiative in Huntsville, Alabama served to affirm some changes which were already in the pipeline, and could be accelerated as a result of confirmation from the population that the ideas were on the right track.

The big question is, seeing evidence of these positive outcomes, why would governments NOT crowdsource with their citizens to make community improvements?

To read more about the benefits of citizen city planning, including specific city examples, download Citizen City Planning: Collaborating with Citizens for a Better City.

Help NASA Save the World from Asteroids

nasaOne of the many awesome things to come out of South by Southwest a couple of weeks ago was NASA’s release of a new app, Asteroid Data Tracker, which allows the average citizen to crowdsource the presence of asteroids. Well, the average citizen with a telescope and the asteroid tracker desktop software.

The app and software were created during a crowdsourced competition produced by NASA and asteroid mining company Planetary Resources, the goal of which was to surface a better asteroid tracking algorithm. With this new software, users will be able to take images from their telescopes and use the algorithm to determine whether or not the bodies present in those images are asteroids.

According to NASA, this new algorithm is able to identify asteroids with a 15 percent higher rate than previous algorithms. The reported asteroids that are surfaced by common folks are useful for both NASA and Planetary Resources. NASA tries to keep an eye on all near-earth asteroids, hopefully to avoid any Armageddon-type situations, as well as considering candidates for potential asteroid missions. Their partner, Planetary Resources, would be interested in that as well, since it’s much easier to mine an asteroid if you can get to it.

Click here for more information about Asteroid Data Tracker, and to download.

What other kind of agencies might benefit from engaging in crowdsourcing of this nature?

2014 Innovation Award Winners

OIAwards2014The 2014 Open Innovation Awards winners have officially been chosen! This year we had many wonderful entrants, and we are incredibly pleased to announce the winners in each category.

Department of Labor—Best Engagement Strategy
The Department of Labor is the winner of the Best Engagement Strategy for their ePolicyWorks campaign. The campaign aimed to gather insight about the accessibility of social media platforms and employment opportunities for people with disabilities in STEM fields. Click here to find out more about the Department of Labor and the winning campaign.

Department of Energy—Best Moderation Strategy
The Department of Energy is the winner of the Best Moderation Strategy for their Sunshot Initiative. The Initiative is a national collaborative effort to make solar energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity by the end of the decade. Click here to find out more about the Department of Energy and the winning campaign.

Scentsy—Best Innovation
Scentsy Inc., an Idaho-based candle warmer company, is the winner of the Best Innovation award for their Family IdeaShare campaign. This campaign resulted in, among other things, a suggestion that became the top-selling warmer in Scentsy history. Click here to find out more about Scentsy and their award-winning innovation.

Congratulations to our winners!

Two particular strategies stand out as best practices from which we can all take a lesson: social media engagement and ease of participation. All three of our winners took full advantage of the social media outlets available to them to encourage user contributions. This was especially true with the Department of Labor, whose campaign focused on social media availability for people with disabilities. Additionally, all three made a point of making participation as uncomplicated as possible; involvement is understandably more likely when it is manageable. For example, the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative included step-by-step screenshots of the process for users.

Winners will receive an Apple iPad Mini, a discount on their 2015 IdeaScale subscription, and a stylized and shareable press packet. They will also have the ability to fast track a feature for 2015 and be able to activate one of the higher-end features free of charge. Congratulations again to our winners!

What might your organization do to be more engaging, have better moderation, and strive for the best innovation?

Tomorrow is the Final Day to Submit to the Open Innovation Awards!

image curtesy of nicolas will via flickr

image courtesy of nicolas will via flickr

If you’re part of an IdeaScale community you’ve probably already heard about our second annual Open Innovation Awards. Over the past few months we’ve been asking all of you to share your success stories. We’ll be selecting a Best Moderation Strategy, Best Engagement Strategy, and a Best Innovation – all of which come with prizes… and some serious bragging rights. But the submission deadline is tomorrow Friday the 14th, and we want to hear your unique, inspiring, exceptional innovation story.

At IdeaScale we love this time of year. Hearing about the struggles and accomplishments in your innovation communities is always educational and helpful, but it’s also fun. It won’t be easy to decide who will win the titles, and the prizes that go with them, this year!

For all of you who have already submitted, or are routing for a community you know and love, finalists will be notified on December 5th, and the winners will be announced on December 19th! Can’t wait another five weeks to get your fix of innovation? You can read up on all of last year’s winners!

•   Yale

•   Marriott

•   UNCW

•   State of Minnesota

•   The Cerebral Palsy Alliance


So what are you waiting for? Submit today!

4 Lessons Learned from IdeaScale’s OI Awards

image curtesy of mo riza via flickr

image courtesy of mo riza via flickr

One of the most important reasons that IdeaScale hosts the IdeaScale Open Innovation Awards is to be able to learn, share, and develop industry-leading best practices that we can share with our subscribers our the broader innovation community. We learned a lot from our winners last year, because the layered creativity on top of standard best practices and there are a few of them that we want to share on here today.

A Well-Defined Process Is Linked To Measurable ROI. Whether it was about an engagement strategy or the ability to assess company savings, the communities that had defined their process well were able to report real results. We think that means that a company with a great pre-launch strategy is going to be better able to articulate their success in the end. Plan accordingly.

The Magic Combination of Online and Offline. The most successful solutions were great at crossing the bridge between online and offline communications. Not only would they promote their community digitally, but they would also showcase it in employee roadshows or have a real wall featuring innovative ideas from the community.

Time-Limited Challenges Create Urgency. Even when the goal is ongoing innovation, adding a deadline often helps people get excited and involved. Someone once told me that the best method of spurring creativity was a simple tool. He said it’s invisible, everyone has it and it works without fail: a deadline. Creating short term campaigns (even ones that you’ll run again but will deliver new results on) keeps people returning to a community.

Work with Your Partners to Increase Reach. Partner networks are a great resource that can help you enrich your network. If you arm them with the tools to communicate with their audience, then they’ll help funnel more life into your community. The Cerebral Palsy Alliance provides their organizations with posters, pamphlets, email templates, tweets and more to help those networks begin the conversation.

To learn more from last year’s winners, check out their stories here:

    –  Yale
    –  Marriott
    –  UNCW
    –  State of Minnesota
    –  The Cerebral Palsy Alliance

If you’d like to nominate a community to become a winner in this year’s IdeaScale Open Innovation Awards, please visit our site.

Department of Labor: Solving Problems and Raising Awareness with National Dialogues

DOL-b&wThe United States Department of Labor is a cabinet-level department of the U.S. federal government responsible for occupational safety, wage and hour standards, unemployment insurance benefits, re- employment services, and more.

ePolicyWorks is a special initiative launched by the Department of Labor which empowers web- based policymaking that engages citizens in order to address barriers to employment for people with disabilities and foster employment success of those living with disabilities. The initiative is also the award-winning host of an important series of online dialogues that enable ODEP to enlist the public’s input on key policy issues related to the employment of people with disabilities by channeling the brainpower of federal partners, nonprofits, NGOs and other stakeholders. IdeaScale is the platform for collaboration.

The Department of Labor has hosted more than seven online dialogues utilizing the IdeaScale platform. Each dialogue lasts approximately four weeks and follows an adaptable seven-step process.

After launching seven dialogues, the team is proud to report:

–     This strategy has won the ePolicyworks team recognition from the Secretary of Labor as part of their Honor Awards for the Federal Partners in Transition National Online Dialogue Team.
–     Over 5,000 community members have generated more than 600 ideas and 13,000 votes across all the dialogues.
–     Every state in the US has been represented across the challenges.
–     That the dialogues have improved policy efficiency substantially. A process that has traditionally taken five-years has been collapsed into a single year.

To learn about how the national dialogues have impacted policy and for a deeper understanding of the seven steps for a successful national dialogue, download the case study here.

Successful Citizen Engagement Tuesday, September 30th, 1 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. EST

image curtesy of lee wright via flickr

image courtesy of lee wright via flickr

There is a growing trend of involving the crowd in public decision making. This practice has already been proven out in the private sector, where crowdsourcing has been used to solve longstanding issues, ranging from suggested feature improvements for mobile applications to reducing maternal mortality with technology.

The idea of involving the public isn’t new, But with the changing role of a public town hall, one has to ask “How can the engagement of the town meeting scale up from a couple thousand people standing in one location to many more than that?” or “How do you hear from the many people who can’t show up for meetings, but will show up to vote on election day and decide who’s doing a good job?”

To answer these questions, IdeaScale is offering a webinar on September 30, featuring Norm Jacknis, Director of Program Development, to review:

8 key reasons to engage citizens:

• Strategic things to consider to ensure a successful citizen dialogue
• Some interesting and thought provoking examples of citizen engagement
• The webinar will be followed by a live question and answer session.

Join us and register for this complimentary webinar today!

The City of Atlanta Leveraging Its Most Valuable Resource – Its Employees

When Barack Obama took office five years ago, he launched the White House SAVE Award – a program that sought ideas from federal employees about how to make the government not only more effective, but also more efficient when it came to spending (hence its name: “Securing Americans Value and Efficiency”).

Every year, the President issues a call to employees asking them to share their ideas using IdeaScale technology. Every branch across the US participates in the conversation and votes on one another’s ideas. Then, the Office of Management and Budget narrows down the best ideas to a “final four” which can be viewed and voted on by the American public. The winner is granted the honor of presenting his or her idea to the President in Washington. It has been a hugely successful program that has generated millions of dollars of savings on an ongoing basis.

In 2013, the City of Atlanta followed suit and instituted a city-wide campaign that engaged all Atlantian employees in generating ideas that could reduce waste, cut red tape and save money on operations. The city launched the program with a gala celebration that instructed employees on how to use the tool followed by ongoing, city-wide communications to all employees via email that encouraged them to submit ideas. They even had an offline option for employees who didn’t have access to a computer as part of their daily routine at work.

The campaign was celebrated as a success. They generated hundreds of ideas and from those hundreds, twelve were flagged for implementation, and the top three alone were evaluated to amount to a potential cost savings of $7.1 million annually.

If you want to learn more about the City of Atlanta’s crowdsourcing success, download the case study here.