Archive for the ‘Citizen Engagement’ Category

Its mid March and after a long winter, I am now trying to decide what to do next with Ideavibes. To answer this question, I thought the obvious first step was to reach out to the crowd for their input.

Three years ago, I launched Ideavibes with the input of a few friends and advisors and built a rather unique crowdsourcing platform that enables users to embed the tool using an iframe on their own website. Great for cities, governments and brands to make engagement happen on their own websites instead of sending them off to other sites.

We have enabled cities and other levels of governments as well as public organizations to utilize crowdsourcing to engage citizens to solve problems and help make change happen in communities around the world. We have also helped brands implement crowdsourcing or open innovation initiatives to build new products, improve existing ones, or develop service offerings that were market influenced from the start. You can read about some of these initiatives on blog.ideavibes.com .

Great stuff. But our inability to build a sustainable business has alluded us.

I am proud of what we have been able to do with the $50,000 I was able to pull together from friends and family, but a few factors have led us to the spot we are now in. These include:
– lack of a technical co-founder meaning a great deal of money was spent on outsourced development
– timing – we were very early into the space and this required a great deal of effort to educate prospective customers
– funding – yes we wasted money on things that, in hindsight, didn’t contribute to what we should have been focused on

In addition to our original platform, we also built the start of a public crowdsourcing space that would become an open platform for anyone to run their own crowdsourcing campaigns. Its unfinished but something that could be great public.ideavibes.com

We have built up some great thought leadership on the topics of crowdsourcing and citizen engagement and are asked to speak on the topic at events and cities, etc. in NA and Europe.

So – if you have ideas on what our next move should be – let me know. The possibilities are endless.

Please contact Paul Dombowsky at paul@ideavibes.com or by phone at 1-613-878-1681 if you would like to start a conversation or pass on your ideas.


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For the past few weeks, the Canada Council for the Arts has been runningan ambitious consultation effort that combines online and public meetings with submissions to answer a critical question about the future of this sector.

What are some of the key issues and opportunities facing you today in the context of the changing environment in which you work such as new technologies, shifting definitions of art practice, demographic shifts, new organizational models, economic crisis, etc.?

The campaign was slow to start off and the feedback from this expressive and passionate community was that they did not feel comfortable participating in such a new method of engagement which relies on government funding for much of their financial support. The thoughtfulness that has gone into the conversation that is happening now is evident and great to see.

This campaign highlights our passion for giving organizations the opportunity to create ‘space for engagement’ as part of the process. Its not just about building a page to launch a campaign but its also about creating a safe environment where people can open up and innovate. Big ideas require some trust and vulnerability and while our platform provides part of the solution – it isn’t the entire picture. The Canada Council for the Arts has done a great deal of work to make this happen.

I applaud the efforts of the team at the CCA, an organization that does so much to support all the arts in Canada, and look forward to supporting their work in the future.

Visit the online campaign here!

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Who says libraries are dead.

Today we took down the crowdsourcing campaign we developed and ran for the Ottawa Public Library called Imagine. You can still visit the website, http://www.imagine-opl-bpo.ca and learn more about this initiative that was undertaken by leadership at the OPL to help the public provide input into the library of the future. A cross between an open innovation and a citizen engagement campaign, the response was overwhelming:

imagine1_smIn the month that the campaign was running, we had:

  • Over 12,000 unique visitors to the website
  • Over 1000 ideas
  • Over 900 comments
  • Over 20,000 total votes cast

Yes – that is a daunting number of ideas – but some key themes developed and the folks at the Library are looking at the conversation that they started to understand priorities and next steps to improve the usability and place that the Library of the future has in the City of Ottawa.

The team at the Library had to work very hard to get approval to do a campaign like this and I applaud their ability to see the potential for both engagement but also innovation and for the commitment to be a little uncomfortable with what people might say. I am happy to report that the fully moderated campaign did not suffer from people trying to hijack the process.

Note that a parallel campaign was also run for City of Ottawa employees so they could focus on internal ideas and comments. This campaign will continue on for the short term as the campaign is generating terrific conversations that will help the Library both operationally and in its service delivery to the citizens of Ottawa.

Stay tuned for a detailed case study.

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Recently I spoke at the Social Media and the Public Sector event in Ottawa and was heartened by the desire of our public sector to more regularly utilize social media and online engagement tools such as crowdsourcing. I do however feel for them and what is clearly a frustration with the current folks in power who seem to think their iron fisted control of all messaging and communications is going unnoticed by citizens.

One of the questions that does come up is whether our governments actually engage with citizens enough? Do citizens actually want to be able to participate more in things like budgetary rationalizing exercises, etc.?

I thought I would put this question out there and see what people think.


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I mean it. Kudos to the City of Ottawa for giving us the opportunity to help them build a truly innovative way to engage citizens and give them the opportunity to get more involved. The campaign is now active and  you can check it out by visiting http://www.ottawa.ca/neighbourhoods

Today – we sent out a press release to announce the campaign – details below (PDF: Ideavibes_Ottawa-PR_1120212_final )

The City of Ottawa and Ideavibes have launched a crowdsourcing campaign to engage residents of Woodpark and Woodroffe North in generating ideas for neighbhorhood improvement projects. The most popular ideas will be reviewed and if practical, put into action.  As many as 3 small-scale, community driven projects will receive up to $30,000 in total support from the City of Ottawa.

The Online Ideas Campaign is a pilot initiative of the Neighbourhood Connection Office, and is designed to give residents the opportunity to develop project ideas for things that are important to their community. City staff will then work with neighbourhood volunteers to make projects happen with  funding support from the City.

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Starting tomorrow (Nov 13/2012), the CRTC – Canada’s broadcast and telecommunications regulator, is launching an Online Consultation to help develop a ‘Wireless Code’ for Canada. The goal of the consultation “is to address the clarity and content of contracts for cellphones and other personal mobile devices.”

Details of the consultation can be found here:  http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/info_sht/t1046.htm

While I applaud the CRTC for deploying a consultation strategy that goes beyond the usual public meetings, rife with the challenges they suffer from, I am disappointed. It looks like the CRTC wasn’t able to go all the way to creating an opportunity for Canadians to have open and meaningful conversations and foster innovation collaboratively in a way that would have made this process one that developed a code that worked for both the public and industry players for the future.

The opportunity to use OPEN innovation or crowdsourcing to develop the Code collaboratively would have been an excellent opportunity for both the CRTC and industry players to engage the public in a meaningful way that would have included many more Canadians. The benefits of this open process would have been felt by all parities and the leadership the CRTC would have demonstrated would have given all Canadians more confidence in the process.

I do think that the mobility industry does deserve what it gets here. Canadians seem to have more disdain for their carriers than they do for just any other service they use. How can an industry expect to rally public support when loyalty to one’s carrier is in short supply? The big MISS here is that the industry itself didn’t initiative its own process for driving innovation for this Code and show leadership as both strong players in the market – and good corporate citizens.

So a tepid pat on the back for the CRTC but a wish that they had the courage to go all the way to using open innovation or crowdsourcing to build a Code that was innovative and reflective of the wishes of Canadians. I hope my fellow citizens get involved if they feel they have something to say here – and not just complain around the dinner table.

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