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Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation


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.


a.      Collective awareness pilots for bottom-up participatory innovation paradigms

Proposals are expected to develop and test pilot solutions to clearly defined sustainability challenges by harnessing 'network effects', leveraging on innovative combinations of distributed social networks, sensor networks and knowledge co-creation networks. Such scalable experiments and prototypes are expected to gain evidence and better understanding on the processes about collective awareness.

These pilots should be grounded on recent developments in open data, open source, distributed social networking and open hardware. Pilots must seize the full potential of existing mobile communications, integration of networks and online collaboration and can make use of innovative integrated mobile sensing devices to create collective awareness of risks and opportunities. They can pioneer crowdsourcing/crowdfunding solutions and new mechanisms for social innovation whose expected return goes beyond GDP measures and traditional success indicators[1].

Pilots should be user-driven, involving existing communities of people, and possibly addressing a combination of sustainability areas. Participants should include not only industry and academia but also local communities, grassroots activists, hackers, social entrepreneurs, students, citizens, creative industries and civil society organisations.

Consortia are expected to be multidisciplinary in nature: participation of at least two entities from domains different than ICT technologies (e.g. social sciences, psychology, economy, art, etc.) is required. 

Given their piloting nature, proposals are expected to be rather compact and small, even though projects including technology development and/or integration may require larger investments.

b.      Multidisciplinary research on collective awareness platforms (Internet Science)

Multidisciplinary research and development proposals will provide a better understanding of the obstacles and opportunities which are fundamental to the development of collective awareness platforms.

Areas of research include but are not limited to the 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.

Attention should also be paid on how to manage online communities in smart manners, in order to extract a ""wisdom of the crowds"" which appropriately takes into account the individual knowledgeability in specific fields.

Consortia are required to include at least two entities from domains different than ICT technologies. 

c.       Digital Social Platforms (DSP)

Digital Social Platforms will facilitate the transposition of existing or emerging participative and inclusive societal solutions to larger transnational scales through:

         engagement of additional stakeholders so far excluded from the innovation process (removing barriers for users at risk of exclusion and for those who consider themselves unsuited for participation),

         creation of concrete incentives for cooperation across countries and across domains, and

         raising awareness, at societal, political and technological levels, about the effectiveness and best practices of such solutions.

They can build on established and open multi-stakeholder networks and communities, such as European Innovation Partnerships, and apply a suitable ICT-enabled cooperative environment to support their expansion and governance, accelerating knowledge creation and innovation. Work should address bottom up innovation activities.

Proposals must address critical factors for successful demand-driven societal innovation, including new collaborative business models across established disciplines and borders. Findings should be transferable and scalable to other communities in different domains and societal challenges.

d.      Coordinating pilots and research activities in CAPs

The aim is to support and coordinate experimental and scientific activities in this field, to compare approaches and distil best practices, involving and networking stakeholders from a rich variety of application areas and disciplines, and bridging real world community-driven pilots of digital social platforms with multidisciplinary research (e.g. Internet Science). 

Expected impact:

At innovation level:

         Demonstration of the effectiveness, compared to existing solutions, of new bottom-up, open and distributed approaches exploiting network effects.

         Pioneering new promising models of participatory innovation based on open software, open data and open hardware.

         Capability to reach a critical mass and to transpose the proposed approach to other application areas related to sustainability.

         Effective involvement of citizens and relevant (and new) actors, as well as establishment of durable interdisciplinary collaborations in concrete application areas related to sustainability. Qualitative and quantitative indicators should be made available.

         (mostly for objective c:) Definition of new concepts and models for the development of digital social platforms, as well as their applicability to societal challenges and deeper understanding of social innovation processes.

At scientific level:

  • Evidence based understanding of the techno-social issues related to key aspects of the networked society; this impact can be amplified by the public availability of (privacy respecting) data collected in field trials organised by the pilots;

At societal/social innovation level:

  • Demonstrating how collaborative concepts based on the Internet can offer solutions to societal and sustainability challenges, by making use of commons, collective problem solving, knowledge sharing, collaborative journalism, social exchange and community-wide participation at local and global scale.
  • Achieving in the longer term the active citizen participation in decision making, collective governance (including global Internet governance), new democracy models self-regulation, new business and economic models. Collective awareness research is expected to demonstrate scalability, reusability of results and general applicability of proposed solutions at local or regional level.
  • (only for objective c:) Transferability and scalability of the digital social platforms model, as well as of the services developed, to enlarged communities across borders: assessment of potential for replication, recommendations for effective scaling-up of social innovation activities.

         Measurable improvement in cooperation among citizens, researchers, public authorities, private companies, non-profit, non-governmental and any other civil society organisation in the development of new sustainable and collaborative consumption patterns, new lifestyles, and innovative product and service creation and information delivery.

Types of action:

a.         Research & Innovation Actions – The Commission considers that proposals requesting a contribution from the EU between EUR 0.5 million and EUR 2 million would allow this specific challenge to be addressed appropriately. Nonetheless, this does not preclude submission and selection of proposals requesting other amounts.

b.        Research & Innovation Actions – Proposals requesting a Small contribution are expected

c.         Research & Innovation Actions – Proposals requesting a Small contribution are expected

d.        Coordination and Support Actions

[1]     Concrete examples of areas and topics can be found at