I copy the information that we provided for the ChangeMakers challenge: http://www.changemakers.com/citizenmedia/entries/new-entry-95.
Most of the info provided there applies perfectly for EdgeRyders.
[I tried to share this in my profile… but the system didn’t save it and destroyed all my editions ]
Summary:Finally, the Internet is promoting, from below, new forms of democracy in which the citizen is the protagonist
About Your OrganizationAsociación Ciudades Kyosei (Symbiotic Cities Association) http://www.ckyosei.org
Spain, Non‐profit/citizen sector organization
How long has your organization been operating?
More than 5 years
InnovationEntry Form title
Kyopol System (“Symbiotic City”): the Internet as a catalyst for civic engagement and citizen’s activation - ckyosei.org
Select the stage that best applies to your solution
Start-Up (a pilot that has just begun operating)
THE NEED: Describe the need for your solution and the size/dynamic of the community (ies) you will engage
The “political class” of most democratic countries is losing the public support, and with it the democratic legitimacy of their mandates. But our democratic systems were not designed to operate in such an interconnected and immediate world, and thus the requests from citizens -which want to play a more prominent democratic role- are not being satisfactorily coped with.
Kyopol attempts to solve this problem by providing citizens and politicians tools that promote a stronger citizen incidence at the municipal level, which is where the interaction representative-represented is easier and closer. There is a need for new tools and methods which enhance the ability of both citizens and politicians to work together in solving their daily problems, and thus promote a renewal of politics. A true democracy needs to be guided by an intense and constant dialogue between politicians and the citizens.
This is the challenge that Kyopol System aims to face: promoting, from below, from neighborhoods and cities, the kind of democratic learning processes that will allow us to interact with each other in a symbiotic way, and thus improve the political and civic functioning of our societies.
THE SOLUTION: Please explain what your solution offers and how it is innovative. How will you put your solution into the hands of users or beneficiaries? Be specific!
The challenges that our cities face need to be solved through intensive cooperation between the government, civic society and the economic actors that live and work in them.
Kyopol System aims to make “citizen engagement” much easier, attractive and powerful, and thus help each of these actors to attain their needs through symbiotic collaboration. Through dialogue and cooperation, civic links are established and reinforced, and a feeling of “belonging to a common environment” is generated.
To realize this vision, Kyopol is being built “bottom-up”, based on the visions of its future users, which participate in its design and creation. Users are the ones who know better their environment and their capabilities and needs. By means of a collaborative design process, users are determining which functionalities generate more benefit for them and thus make the system more sustainable and replicable. The interaction with Kyopol is going to be simple and intuitive. The features will be aligned with the users’ interests: they will not feel like they are doing a “civic effort”, but getting informed and taking care of things that are “worth” it and, at the same time, having fun.
The system exploits the knowledge that the Association has accumulated since 2005 by performing interdisciplinary research in Brazil, Spain and Guatemala. Web 2.0 collaborative tools and concepts are going to be integrated in Kyopol, to create synergic effects that promote enough usefulness as to attain the critical mass of users that is required for such a system to work satisfactorily.
THE MODEL: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference through use of information technology and media
• Kyopol supports and facilitates public engagement in populations of any size, increasing the effect and incidence of civic collaboration. It supports both online and offline initiatives, and is available both for “citizens driven initiatives” (bottom-up) as for initiatives promoted by government and public agencies (top-down).
• Kyopol makes easy for people and groups that are willing to promote a civic initiative, to inform about it to all potentially interested fellow citizens and organizations. Conversely, through a system of “alerts”, Kyopol allows citizens and organizations to stay informed about the initiatives that deal with themes and places of their interest.
• Kyopol promotes the development of “high quality” civic initiatives, by providing tools, methodologies and teaching resources that promote a participation which is transparent, informed, balanced, profound and documented.
• Kyopol works, in short, as a decentralized and transparent “Facebook of civic engagement”, which would be regularly used by citizens and institutions of all kinds, to inform (/inform themselves) about civic initiatives taking place in the places they care for, and deal with subjects that matter to them. Kyopol acts thus as a “civic neural system” for the city, which guides collective reflection and civic action, and keeps a transparent record of all civic processes conducted in the city over the time.
• Using a fractal model of administration, Kyopol obtains a sustainable critical mass of users, and thus favours an exponential growth of the usefulness generated and its viral spread.
THE MARKETPLACE: Who are your peers and competitors? What challenges could these players pose to your success or growth?
Experts have long indicated that e-Participation systems promoted “top-down”, from governments, are inefficient, technologically backward and unable to fulfill the real needs of its users. This is why the EU has not obtained much results, despite having invested more than 100 million euros in the last 10 years.
However, the systems developed from CSOs have also not had a real success: they have not been able to expand its use virally, in a sustainable way. Financial constraints and a poor understanding of the environment where they operate prevented them from generating a irresistible “usefulness” that would have lead to an exponential growth.
During the last 6 years our association has been researching this area, as a way to get vision, technical capacity and the commitment required to design really transformative tools. As a result, we have also established links with institutions and professionals who are now helping us to design and test a system “that actually works”. In Kyopol’s DNA includes openness and public service vocation: we will try to convince any ‘competitor’ we meet that we all -and the goals we serve- win more by partnering and cooperating than by competing.
Social ImpactThis Entry is about (Issues)
- Citizen participation
- Information technology
- Public policy
- Sustainable development
- Urban development
It was during 2005. This year I researched in Brazil -with a grant from the Ministry of Int. Cooperation- Internet’s potential to strengthen local participation in Latin American countries. I studied various participatory avenues by participating in them and interacting with the participants: Participatory Budgeting, People’s Assemblies, MST, CSOs, NGOs, political parties, unions, neighborhood associations…
I soon realized that this puzzle was very difficult to solve, because each of the actors involved in “Civic Engagement” were missing some pieces needed to complete it: politicians lack confidence and will; activist lack awareness of ICT’s potentials; scholars do not feel the “taste” of civic engagement, programmers have not experienced the face-to-face processes of social struggle…
We wrote some articles explaining the “Main foundations to design municipal e-Participation systems”… But that was clearly not enough. If we wanted “empowering” tools to be created, we had to involve ourselves directly to play a “connecting” role between IT and meatworld. So we founded the association. We have been reflecting and networking since then. Now, finally, we started to build KYOPOL.
Specify both the depth and scale of your solution’s social impact to date
The projects of our Association are currently at a crucial point. After finishing the research and pre-design phases (below we show their most important achievements), we are now starting the construction and testing of Kyopol, with the help of our “Pioneers’ Group”.
AXIS I - RESEARCH AND EXPERIMENTATION (2004-11)
Research on e-participation and civic engagement in Catalonia (2004), Brazil (05-06) and Guatemala (07-10).
Experiences: ICT and municipal transparency (09), ICT and plans. participatory development (10). Indigenous region in Guatemala.
AXIS II - DISSEMINATION AND ADVOCACY (06-11)
Preparation of articles, book chapters, monographs, audiovisual materials and teaching aids.
Conferences: Project perspectives presented in Spain, Germany, Italy, Poland, Guatemala, Venezuela and Brazil.
Teaching courses and seminars on e-Participation.
Price awarded at CLAD Congress to our coneptual foundations.
AXIS III - NETWORKING (08-11)
Partnerships with institutions and individuals interested in contributing to the associaion’s projects (see below).
Recognized in the field of European e-participation as an innovative and relevant actor.
What is your projected impact within the next 1-5 years? Is your idea replicable? If so, how?
The creation of Kyopol is underway. 57 “pioneers” (from 7 countries) representing the various groups of system’s users, are now helping us to create and improve Kyopol prototypes. Pilot testing is planed to start in H1 2012 at the Corredor del Henares region. The system is created with the explicit aim of extending its use “virally”. In June 2013 we aim to activate it throughout Spain (see picture), and to start pilots in several countries in Latinamerica and Europe.
If the extension of Kyopol’s use in spanish municipalities goes as planned, by the time of the next municipal elections (due in 2015) Kyopol might have contributed much to strengthen the participatory and civic landscape of many spanish cities and regions, and could thus affect significantly several election results.
Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and mark growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Prototypes have been validated and improved by Pioneers, and an Alpha system is available to conduct pilot projects.
Six-Month TasksTask 1
Consolidation of the Core Group and the “Pioneers Group”. Maturing of our collaboration processes and tools [by 2011.09]
Develop the first working prototype of the Kyopol [by 2011.11]. Testing and improvement. Start pilot projects [by 2012.03]
Extend and strengthen partnerships with stakeholders for the pilot projects, in the municipalities and Villalbilla-Alcalá.
Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Pilot projects were developed successfully and we are ready to extend use of Kyopol to several Spanish Autonomous Regions.
12-Month TasksTask 1
Create a functional alpha version of Kyopol, based on the learnings from the pilot projects [till 2012.10]
Partnerships with relevant actors for expansion process (Fed. of Townhalls &Neighb Asoc., 15M, DRY, Regional Govt., …)
Establish and validate business models, financ. and sustainability models. Alliances with institutional partners.
How many people have been impacted by your project?
101 - 1,000
How many people could be impacted by your project in the next three years?
More than 10,000
SustainabilityExplain how your company, program, service or product is structured
What barriers have hindered the success of your project to date? How do you plan to overcome these and other challenges as you grow your solution?
The obstacles were much related to a lack of institutional and financial support from existing institutions. We have invested a lot of energy trying to get support from government agencies, supra-state institutions (EU & OAS) and regional governments… without success. Unfortunately, traditional innovation support programs do not work well to back “social entrepreneurism”. This has forced our project lead to combine his dedication to the project with some other activities that allowed him to earn his livelihoods. All in all, this has slowed much our progress. The lack of full-time developers dedicated to building the system has also been an obstacle.
But… to overcome these obstacles, as Peter Pan once said… “all we need is faith and trust… and a little bit of pixie dust!”
How do you see the information-technology and media sectors shifting over the next decade? How will your solution adapt to and/or drive that changing environment?
As Tim Berners-Lee wrote in a recent article, “the ability to engineer successful [web] applications requires [an interdisciplinary approach and] a better understanding of the features and functions of the social aspects of the systems.” This is precisely the approach that our association has been working with.
“The Web is changing at a rate that may be greater than even the most knowledgeable researcher’s ability to observe it.” Internet is about to impact on our political systems… and Kyopol would like to be at the forefront of that change.
Failure is not always an option. If your solution fails to gain traction in the next two years, what other applications of the idea could you explore?
Our project is configured as a multidisciplinary learning process, which aims to understand how to put the Internet on the service of our societies’ political development. It is clear that, in order to achieve it, well-designed platforms are required, which are able integrate offline participation processes with online functionalities. They must provide features that meet the needs and abilities of the citizens, and succeed in generating a pleasant experience of “civic engagement”: it must be fun!!-.
That is why, if -for example- in two years we have been unable to extend the use of the system to the levels have set as objective, or we have failed to achieve the “small critical masses” that are needed to create an empowering participation… we will not consider it as much as a failure, but as a “still unfinished learning process”. Everything we have achieved to that moment will be the basis for further learning and improving. Considering that, in the meantime, we will have been strengthening ties with other institutions and individuals who share our goals, we will surely be in a much better position to address the challenges we encounter.
That said, we should note that our plans include various alternative scenarios. These scenarios consider different ideas, features and possible uses of the system; and depending on how everything unfolds, we will give prioritize some of them over the others.
For example, one of the features the system should provide, is to be integrated with the formal and informal education systems. This way, it will promote a “hands on” learning of “participation” from the school. But this is not one of the functionalities that we have prioritized to be in the first alpha.
Many of these features are meant to support “business models” that generate revenue streams that will ensure the sustainability of the system. For example, we aim to provide specific functionalities for municipalities, which will facilitate their polls, surveys, deliberative and participatory processes, in a very cost-efficient way. A town hall would be willing to pay a subscription to have access to this functionality, and thus the operating cost of the system could be covered. Crowdsourcing, advertising, partnerships with regional institutions, micro-contributions… are some of the many possible mechanisms for self-financing that we are considering.
As shown in the “Spyglass Model” for the creation of Civic Software (search for it in the picture section), we consider “Sustainability” as a cross-cutting element that must be taken into account for all the dimensions of the project: from infrastructure for development and the base collaborative processes, to the institutional governance arrangements for the system. We consider that if the whole project is going to succeed… each of these dimensions must be sustainable on its own.
In the case that, after two years, not all dimensions are sustainable… this will mean that we have to continue learning and collaborating with others to achieve it.
Expand on your selections, explaining how you will sustain funding
As noted before, the system includes several features that provide channels of funding: partnerships, micro-payments, crowdsourcing, selling services, business platform, and so on.
However, what is really essential to promote the scalability and sustainability of the system is to minimize its operating costs. Kyopol administration is based on a model of “fractal” and multilevel governance, which allows the users to administer the system at the closest possible level to issues (each neighborhood, city or region). Users are also creating the content that keep the system alive. Thus, a small central team (in the style of the Wikimedia Foundation) would have the responsibility for channeling and enhancing collaboration, as well as to direct the improvement of Kyopol’s features and procedures.
Tell us about your partnerships
We have established partnerships with institutions and individuals interested in contributing to our projects, including: University of Alcalá (ES), Instituto Tecnológico de Monterrey (MX), Federal University of Ceará (BR), Inter-American Network on Electronic Government (INT), Escola de Formação de Governantes de Ceará (BR), Pan-European eParticipation Network (EU), Inter-American Organization for Higher Education (INT), 15M (ES), Independent Municipal Party (ES), MuNET e-Government (OAS), Catep - Social Intervention Cooperative (ES) + many individuals.
What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section?
The project aims to operate with a minimal cost. Therefore, our process of collaborative design and construction has been structured to allow individual contributors to participate with just a small effort and without being remunerated. Currently just one person dedicated full time to the project. He is coordinating a “Core team” of 19 volunteers, and a "Pioneers Group” (alpha testers) with 57 members.
In two years we will probably need to have a “full time” team formed by 3 people, who will take charge of the development and support system.
Changemakers is a collaborative and supportive space. Please specify any community resources you would need to grow and sustain your initiative. Select all that apply
Investment, Collaboration or networking, Pro-bono help (legal, financial, etc.), Mentorship.
Specify any resources you might offer to support other initiatives. Select all that apply
Research or information, Collaboration or networking, Innovation or ideas, Mentorship.
Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren’t specified within the list
Our fundamental profile is “multi-disciplinary activists and researchers”, and thus we could provide to the Ashoka network the items that have been listed.
With regard to our demands… they indicate what we now mainly need: some minimum investment levels and the tremendous visibility and “networking” possibilities that being a member of the Ashoka network provides. We are open to collaborations of all kinds (we have already identified several projects in this call that would be similar or complementary to ours, where synergies could be exploited (Bottup, FixMyCity, Eudemocracia…)).
We could also benefit from the advice and strategic guidance that other network’s members could give us, as well as specific support in areas where we do not have much expertise (legal…).
SummaryDefine your company, program, service or product in 1-2 short sentences
KYOPOL: The vision, the commitment and the technical competence to design Civic Software with a real transformative potential
Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences
Finally, the Internet is promoting, from below, new forms of democracy in which the citizen is the protagonist