Open Innovation in the Public Sector – Challenge.Gov – Public Administration Review

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Ines Mergel and I have a paper accepted in Public Administration Review

Implementing Open Innovation in the Public Sector:
The Case of Challenge.Gov

As part of the Open Government Initiative (OGI), the Obama administration has called for new forms of collaboration with stakeholders to increase innovativeness of public service delivery. Federal managers can utilize Challenge.gov to crowdsource solutions from previously untapped problem solvers and leverage collective intelligence to tackle complex social and technical public management problems. We highlight the work conducted by the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at the General Services Administration (GSA), the administrator of the Challenge.gov platform. Specifically, we feature the work of Tammi Marcoullier, Program Manager, Challenge.gov, and Karen Trebon Deputy Program Manager for Challenge.gov, and their role as change agents mediating collaborative practices between policy makers and public agencies in navigating the political and legal challenges within their local agencies. We provide insights into the implementation process of crowdsourcing solutions for public management problems as well as lessons learned designing open innovation processes in the public sector.

National Science Foundation Grant – Hybrid Challenge Platforms to Promote Innovation

NSF Along with my colleagues at Arizona State University, I have received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Hybrid Challenge Platforms to Promote Innovation

To be practical and sustainable tools for innovation, the coming generation of community-engagement and crowd-sourcing platforms need to improve the user experience of participants, while simultaneously providing a reliable mechanism for synthesizing participants' contributions into usable problem-solving outputs. In the present project, a multi-disciplinary research team will explore how community participation spreads, the effects of feedback on participation, and the changes in community and collaboration structure over time. Empirically, the project lays out three research questions: 1) characteristics of participatory government platforms, 2) behavioral and system challenges over time, and 3) the impact of managerial and design interventions on individual behaviors and network structure.

The specific platform for this research is "10,000 Solutions", a many-to-many system managed by Arizona State University that empowers both individuals and organizations to host and participate in solutions, challenges, and collective actions. The research team will study participation in "10,000 Solutions" across online, physical, and hybrid environments, particularly focusing on participant community building, trajectories of participation, and output usability. A diverse slate of experiments, with the application of the application of agent-based modeling and network analysis, will provide useful insights for theory development on community engagement and participation, as well as generating best-practice guidelines for participatory design, operation, assessment and implementation.

Future advances in economic growth and national security require new technologies for harnessing the wisdom of crowds and the power of public innovation. However, these technologies are still in their infancy, and there is a growing need for robust and flexible platforms that can move beyond exploratory efforts, toward real-world deployment. The project will develop evidence-based policies and practices to improve collaboration while increasing perceptions of accountability, legitimacy and individual satisfaction, the effectiveness of the work outputs and the adoption and use of the products developed by the community and through the platform. Knowing the conditions that increase and sustain collective action will help in devising policies and practices for building platforms to enhance participation in government and non-government organizations.

NSF Award [Link]

Plenary Address at the Western Intergovernmental Audit Forum

I will be delivering a plenary address at the 2013 Western Intergovernmental Audit Forum. The meeting will take place at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel in Arizona, Sept 12-13, 2013. My talk titled, Emerging Technologies and the Future of Governance, will explore how technological innovations are changing how we design, implement, and manage, our governance mechanisms and public institutions. header

Conference on Economic Resilience, Braga, Portugal

ConferenceEconomicsI am heading to Portugal for the Conference on Economic Resilience. I co-organized this event along with two colleagues, Isabel Ramos (University of Minho) and James R. Martin, II (Clemson University). The conference will be held at Largo do Paço – Rectorate. Attendees at the event include:

  • Norio Okada, Director of Disaster Recovery Governance Research Institute, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan
  • Alejandro Pinto-Gonzalez, DG CONNECT Policy Office, European Commission, Belgium
  • Helena Molin Valdes, Deputy Director UN-ISDR, Switzerland
  • Francis Ghesquiere, Manager for the World Bank’s Disaster Risk Management Practice Group and Head of GFDRR Secretariat
  • António Cunha, Rector of the University of Minho, Portugal
  • Alvaro Santos Pereira, Minister of Economy and Employment of Portugal

Intrapreneurship and the Public Sector – Article in PA Times

PATimesI wrote a brief piece on intrapreneurship within the public sector for PA Times [Link]

TechniCity – MOOC – A Vision for Smart Cities

coursera_logoWhile at Ohio State University, I recorded lectures for the TechniCity MOOC. This course is being offered by two of my colleagues, Jennifer Evans-Cowley, Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Administration, City and Regional Planning Section, Ohio State University and Tom Sanchez, Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Tech. Check it out!

Poster – Designing Smart Cities – Ohio State University

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Designing and Planning for Smart(er) Cities – Practicing Planner

aicpsignatureYou can find my article on smart cities in the current issue of Practicing Planner.

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Abstract: Within the past 24 months the concept of smart (and intelligent) cities has been become popular in the media. For instance, Scientific American ran a special issue on smart cities (September 2011). Industry players such as IBM and Siemens have specific programs and practices dedicated to advancing the cause of building smart cities. Despite its intuitive appeal, we have limited knowledge within the design, planning, and policy fields about the dimensions of the concept of smart cities, and limited practical experience regarding the barriers and potential opportunities. The term smart city is still new and appears to mean different things within different fields. In some ways the term is both complex and vague. Some experts use the term smart city to highlight advances in sustainability and greening of the city, while others use the term to portray infusion of information via technologies to better the lives of citizens. Even others consider the presence of high-level citizen engagement in the design and governance of the space as a key attribute of smarter cities. Therefore, no consensus exists within the academy on the characteristics of smart cities and how they fit within existing conceptual frameworks, such as sustainability and policy informatics. Although there is not yet consensus on a definition, I posit the following definition: A smart city is livable, resilient, sustainable, and designed through open and collaborative governance. The objective of this paper is to provide a preliminary conceptual framework for researchers, policymakers, and planners to apply in their design and development of smart cities. In light of the growing popular appeal of smart cities, I hope this essay will serve as a call to action for planners who must confront the day-to-day challenge of designing, developing, and retrofitting cities to make them smarter.

To access the article, please click here.

IBM Center for the Business of Government Grant – Big Data and Public Agencies

For a second year in a row, I have been fortunate to receive a grant from the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

Project: Building Analytical Capabilities for Big Data in the Public Sector: From Paralysis to Analysis

The goal of this project is to arrive at an actionable framework for federal agencies to navigate the 'big' data management challenge. We will interview Chief Information Officers (CIOs) who are leading 'big' data projects at federal, state, and local agencies to understand the challenges they face and their attempts to navigate opportunities provided by 'big' and 'open' data. We will administer a survey to measures technical, processes, people, and organizational factors that impact an agency's readiness and experience with big data management. An actionable framework will be developed that outlines how public agencies should proceed to create a roadmap towards devising analytical capabilities for big data management.

To learn more about my prior project on Challenge.gov, please click here.

My Research Mind – A Little Messy

I have been doing some reflection on my research interests and the connections between the various scientific domains in which I work. I will be on a panel, Working on Mars while Living on Earth - Balancing Demands across Disciplinary Boundaries, with Sandeep Purao (Penn State University), Ajay Vinze (Arizona State University), and Steve Sawyer (Syracuse University) at the 22nd Workshop on Information Systems and Technology where I will share some of my lessons learnt in doing interdisciplinary research and holding academic appointments in various disciplinary units from business schools to information schools and urban studies to public administration.

For a sneak preview here is a graphical description of my research spheres.

Below is a graphical description of my research trajectory mapped across various dimensions.