Here at Untap, we are passionate about open innovation and its great potential to tackle some of the world’s biggest challenges. We really believe that by being open and collaborative, we can create a positive impact in the world. What will happen if governments of the world involve citizens in their decision-making processes? Well, not only will they ensure that public policies and services will meet the needs of their citizens, but they will also have access to untapped ideas, talents, and innovative solutions. That’s why in this article, we explore why entities should adopt an open innovation approach to apply citizen engagement. 

Understanding Citizen Engagement

Citizen engagement involves the general public in decision-making and problem-solving in matters that affect their lives. Examples of citizen engagement include voicing opinions and concerns in public meetings, signing petitions, voting in elections, and joining community organizations. Other forms of citizen engagement include volunteering for local events or campaigns, attending rallies and protests, and providing feedback to government agencies through surveys or public comment periods.

We believe that citizen engagement should be the norm when running a government. Engaging citizens produces solutions that are designed with a deep understanding of the needs of the community. This ensures that public policies and services are effective, relevant, and sustainable.

Empowering citizens makes them feel invested in the outcomes and more likely to trust their government. This leads to greater civic engagement. Citizen engagement fosters a sense of community and collective responsibility. Citizens collaborate to shape the future of their city, state, or country. It also leads to better decision-making by involving citizens with diverse perspectives and experiences in the process. This enables more informed and thoughtful decisions. Moreover, citizen engagement enhances transparency and accountability by encouraging citizens to offer feedback and hold their government accountable for its actions. The result is a government that serves the needs of the members of its community.

Understanding Open Innovation

Open innovation involves individuals from various organizations or sectors collaborating to develop new ideas, products, or services. By sharing resources and knowledge, open innovation helps to develop and implement solutions more quickly, accelerating the pace of innovation.

Because innovation can arise from anywhere, opening up the innovation process allows a broader range of perspectives and expertise to be accessed. It also leads to more innovative solutions. There can be different forms for open innovation. Examples include collaborative innovation, user innovation, open source innovation, crowdsourcing, and hackathons. Various forms of open innovation can be utilized independently or together to generate innovative solutions for complex issues.

Due to our passion for open innovation and the fact that we believe that it has the superpower to revolutionize the world, in this article, we focus on combining open innovation with citizen engagement to create even more impactful solutions.

A Powerful Combination

Open innovation and citizen engagement are two powerful tools that entities use to solve complex problems and create innovative solutions. These methods allow for collaboration between individuals from different organizations or sectors. They result in the development of new ideas, products, or services that are tailored to the needs of the community. 

There are several types of citizen engagement activities that use open innovation methods. There are crowdsourcing, hackathons, co-creation workshops, and online platforms. By using these methods, citizens, businesses, and government agencies can collaborate to tackle social and environmental challenges.

Success Cases

The Smart City Challenge in the United States is an instance of citizen engagement and open innovation. Cities received an invitation to use technology and data and develop innovative solutions to urban problems. The challenge fostered collaboration between citizens, businesses, and government agencies to create solutions that were customized to the needs of the community. As a result, the winning city, Columbus, Ohio, received $40 million to put its plan into action. The city implemented initiatives such as electric vehicle infrastructure, smart street lighting, and an integrated data platform as part of the plan.

In addition to another successful example, OpenIDEO. It is an online community that brings together designers, entrepreneurs, and citizens to collaborate on social and environmental challenges. The platform uses a collaborative approach to design thinking, where participants work together to generate ideas, prototype, and test solutions. OpenIDEO has been successful in developing projects related to education, healthcare, and environmental sustainability, among others. One of their notable successes is the development of Amplify, a mobile app that provides farmers in Kenya with information on crop management and market prices. Farmers, tech experts, and business professionals collaborated to create this app

More Examples of Citizen Engagement Through Open Innovation

“Smart Dubai” initiative aims to make Dubai the happiest city in the world. It encompasses a variety of initiatives for citizen involvement and open innovation. Through the “Dubai Now” application, citizens have a one-stop platform for accessing government services. And through the “Dubai Pulse” platform, the government employs data analytics to enhance city services and decision-making.

Moreover, we have one last example we would like to mention in this article. It is the “CityScore” program by the City of Boston. It utilizes real-time data to monitor city services, such as traffic congestion, potholes, and public safety. Citizens can use a mobile app to report issues and suggest improvements. Through combining open innovation and citizen engagement, the City of Boston has been able to enhance the quality of city services and establish a more proactive government that caters to the needs of its citizens.

These are just a few examples that demonstrate the power of citizen engagement and open innovation in creating effective and sustainable solutions for complex problems. 

Untap's Open Innovation Platform

Building a successful citizen engagement programs using open innovation requires having a dedicated platform that can facilitate collaboration and idea generation among different stakeholders. That’s where Untap comes in.

Untap’s open innovation platform provides a centralized space where citizens, businesses, and government agencies can come together to share ideas, knowledge, and expertise. By bringing all these different perspectives and experiences to the table, the platform enables stakeholders to generate more innovative and sustainable solutions to complex problems.

In conclusion, citizen engagement and open innovation are two powerful tools. Using them can tackle complex problems and create innovative solutions. By involving citizens in decision-making processes and by sharing resources and knowledge, we can create a positive impact on the world. Using an open innovation platform like Untap fosters collaboration between individuals from different organizations or sectors. It also enables them to develop ideas, products, or services that are tailored to the needs of the community.