Is it possible to put together a functional, user-friendly website and a business plan to tackle some of today’s largest social, environmental, and political problems in just 48 hours? The people at Social Innovation Camp think so, and it’s their mission to hook up graphic designers, website developers, marketing professionals and other industry experts with local activists looking to impact today’s tough problems using social media on the web. The most recent weekend-long Social Innovation Camp event took place in Tbilisi, Georgia on April 8-10, and was a huge success.
Social Innovation Camp has been bringing together web-based professionals and local activists for two years, beginning in the UK and branching out to host international events. Their mission is to “bring together ideas, people and digital tools to build web-based solutions to social problems – from hacking together some software to working out how you’d sustain an idea – all in just 48 hours.” And judging from the most recent camp, they are seeing successes with this quick, guerrilla-style attack on social problems using the social web.
Over the course of the April 8-10 weekend, over forty participants from Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia got together to produce six social media projects that would be judged after just 48 hours of production time. This meant the teams had to work fast, and they had to work hard. The winning two projects are certainly innovative, and it’s nearly impossible to imagine that they were put together from the ground up in only two days.
The winners were chosen by a panel of judges and by the public, each getting $3,000 to fund their idea. The judge’s chose Save the Trees, an idea that proposed creating an online public space for local residents to notify the Ministry of the Environment and municipal governments of any illegal tree-cutting or other environmental damage, which is a rampant problem in the city chosen to pilot this project, Yerevan. The public’s favorite was Givemeinfo, a social website designed to record citizen complaints of government agencies withholding vital information in order to increase transparency in Georgia.
Both of the winning ideas rely on the social elements of the web, as they need user-submitted information in order to first raise awareness and then to act on environmental and political issues. Social Innovation Camp gave the participants the tools to build the prototype websites and business plan, and they are now in a position to use the social web as a means to achieve meaningful social change in their communities.