Info on the call
Official home page Deadline: April 14th 2015
Specific Challenge: The challenge is to harness the collaborative power of ICT networks (networks of people, of knowledge, of sensors) to create collective and individual awareness about the multiple sustainability threats which our society is facing nowadays at social, environmental and political levels. The resulting collective intelligence will lead to better informed decision-making processes and empower citizens, through participation and interaction, to adopt more sustainable individual and collective behaviours and lifestyles.
The challenge includes the deployment at larger scales of digital social platforms for multi-disciplinary groups developing innovative solutions to societal challenges.
I think this call might be relevant to Edgeryders. Though it is probably unwieldy, as European funding in general, it could also be a better fit to Edgeryders than other calls.
Why it is relevant
I can see at least two strands of Edgeryders activity fitting well here.
One: the future of care in the hands of hackers/ HackCare Manifesto. Many of us worry about the drift emerging from the clash between Europe’s cash-strapped health and social care system and the Internet of Things. Since the IoT is profit-driven and large corporates-dominated, we run a very serious risk of ending up in a system of “care by artifacts”. Worse, these artifacts would be proprietary, untransparent, impossible to open and hack; and suppliers of these artifacts have a strong business incentive to sell not the product, but the service – it stabilizes the revenue. This, in turn, makes them more money if we never really heal, and stay dependent on paying the subscription fee to be well. I am not even looking at privacy issues, insurance companies getting involved, big data crunching resulting in people getting excluded from the system etc. This scenario is downright dystopian – we could call it “running Windows in your body”.
At the Future of care session at LOTE4, we all agreed we can do better than that. We envisioned a system of “care by a community of hackers, armed with cheap, open source tools”. This scenario is not a return to the country doctor: you still get to enlist sensors and algorithms to alert you if an anomaly comes up. But you do not delude yourself: benefits do not come from the artifacts, but from the community that builds, programs and deploys them, and that you can be a part of. Imagine a hackerspace for medicine, where doctors, technologists, and patients come together to design and deploy the system that best serves their local community; it would be resilient, and it would be trustable, because (a) it would be open source and (b) everyone is a patient sooner or later, so the doctors and the technologists themselves use what they build. We are seeing moves in this direction: there are already small companies that build medical sensors for Arduino, and Arduino has decided to fight the Internet of Things, trying to build an open source version of it.
Two: OpenEthnographer. The discussion at LOTE4 shows how richly textured the problem is, and how important it is that all voices are heard. This looks like a job for OpenEthnographer: an open massive online ethnography on health/social care in the age of the Internet of Things is likely to lead to important insights; and, crucially, to people with skills and drive discovering each other and just going for it, deploying prototypes. I think this stuff is prototypable: there is no need to go out and build an entire health care system. For example, @LucasG could partner up with some biohacker and the local community of 7,000 insuline-dependent patients in the Canary Islands to figure out if they can make insuline locally, instead of importing it from Germany. It is one problem, well defined, with a clear local dimension, and the local community stands a chance to solve it.
Why it is a good fit
- Edgeryders has some track record in the collective intelligence space. We are marginally involved in the first CAPS (there was a pre-Horizon 2020 Collective Awareness Platforms program) call, as an external partner to the CATALYST consortium (to be announced); we have the OpenEthnographer project going; and everything we did from the Council of Europe days on has always been about nurturing and deploying collective intelligence.
- CAPS2 is going to depart from CAPS1 in that it is going to insist on funding projects that are (1) not too technology-driven; (2) are proposed by consortia that have at least two non-technology partners; (3) are proposed by "real communities with real people". I know this because the CAPS2 programme manager, Fabrizio Sestini, announced it in his speech at the launch of the call.
- Fabrizio himself is good people, and I believe he is running this thing with high integrity. Some edgeryders will remember him at LOTE2, helping us to figure out why is it so difficult for public sector organizations to work with informal networks like Edgeryders. That memorable conversation was one of the things that led to establishing a corporate vehicle for the Edgeryders community.
What we could do and what we need to do it
We could mount a project of type A (Collective awareness pilots for bottom-up participatory innovation paradigms) with two dimensions.
- Technological dimension: annotation of content on the web as conducive to collective intelligence. Part of this is our vision of Massive Open Online Ethnography, and this is what Edgeryders would do in the consortium. But other people care about other things, from OKFN with hypothes.is to argument mapping etcetera. "Web annotation" might be the unifying theme.
- Social sustainability dimension: we focus on a problem, like health and social care, that we think collective intelligence might address through the tools provided.
In this way, we could fund both the further development of OpenEthnographer and a large scale ethnography of the health care vs. the Internet of Things problem space. We could even prototype solutions, and do ethnography on those too!
Type A projects are large: typically 0.5 to 2 million EUR. To realize this vision, we need to be a in a consortium with a couple of important universities, one of which should be the lead partner. One of them could be a computer science department (for the tech stuff); the other one an anthropology or social sciences department (for the ethno stuff).
Alternatively (or additionally?), we could build projects of type B (Multidisciplinary research on collective awareness platforms – Internet Science) or C (Digital Social Platforms). B is interesting to us because it investigates things like “motivations and incentives for online collaboration, the impact of extended awareness and peer pressure in driving more sustainable behaviours, defining online reputation mechanisms, and facilitating policy and technological developments addressing identity, anonymity, ethics, (user-centric) privacy preservation, monitoring of network neutrality, non-discriminatory access, collective governance (including Internet governance), new economic and value creation models beyond GDP, quality requirements for user-generated knowledge, visualisation of social interactions and trends”.
C is interesting because of the focus on the international dimension. Both B and C projects are expected to request “small contributions”, that in this context means 2-4 million EUR (!) – source, p. 23. Projects of type A and B (but not C) have the requirement of having two non-ICT partners in the consortia. I don’t know much of these types of projects, but presumably we would need to be a part of a consortium with two or three very solid universities in the lead.
If you have any opinion or useful advice, let @Noemi know – she will attend the CAPS2 networking event in Brusselson December 16th.