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A Human City Platform for town and city councils to foster citizen engagement

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Human City Platform (A Human City Platform for town and city councils to foster citizen engagement)

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2018-09-30

The problem we address is that Governments are not enough responsive to issues because they don’t have enough information or due to lack of resources. That creates lack of trust, inefficient governance and wasted billions in wrong projects.. Among those who are interested in improving democracy worldwide, a question that often comes up is how to engage the unengaged. To support the broader ecosystem of individuals and institutions working hard to make our civic life more inclusive and meaningful, we carry out a detailed study on the attitudes and behaviour of average citizens. In particular, we were interested in engaging that portion of the population that is paying attention to the world around them, but not regularly voicing their opinions or taking action. We call them, Interested Bystanders.

Why is this important? Half of the United States adult population could be considered “Interested Bystanders” – 48.9% of people are paying attention to issues around them, but not actively voicing their opinions or taking action on those issues. There is a misalignment between how Interested Bystanders think they should engage civically, and the ways they do engage. While Interested Bystanders associate the political aspects of civic life with conflict, shame, and negative experiences, they are attracted to the aspects that are about community involvement and social relationships. Although Interested Bystanders say that power comes from having a voice, they are disinclined to share their own opinions. Interested Bystanders believe they have the most power at the local level — either because they have greater ability to influence others in their immediate circles, or because they feel proportionally more important in a smaller population — yet most participants reported voting only at the national level, indicating a tension between their voting choices and their own sense of efficacy.

Our overall objectives are to scale Social Coin’s technology and gain knowledge to engage citizens on solving their community issues and to give governments real time and actionable information about civic needs and concerts to build better policies. To get there, we will create a platform to analyze any language based data sources to dimension the issues in a city and prioritize solutions, rewarding citizens who gets engaged in them through the blockchain to promote a more responsive, transparent and inclusive governance giving governments accurate situational analysis and prioritization of the solutions in a city, unlocking the power of bystanding citizens, to better serve in their mandates. The challenges we are facing are about technology are (1) To create a technology based on Machine Learning to help understand and give a dimension to the issues concerning the citizens. (2) To create interfaces enough attractive for citizens to participate, with mechanics to engage them in a sustainable way and (3) To create a powerful API to help any civic engagement platform to have a civic rewarding system.
The objective of the two firsts work packages (WP1 and WP2) was to specify the functional and technical requirements of the Human City Platform and its implementation. Due to increasing volumes of data and to being open to new features, the platform proposes a modular and scalable architecture composed of core modules that are integrated together. The SPARK Engine, which is the responsible to collect big amounts of data, coming from different sources (from social networks to online newspapers), crunch it, analyse it and extract issues related to the cities. The Social Coin which is the evolution of the current The Social Coin platform, and it takes advantage of the insights coming from SPARK and give tools to empower the citizens and solve the city issues; and the Public Application Programming Interface (API). It can be used by third party organisations to evaluate acts and return its impact to the city. The SPARK must be able to “understand” which are the concerns of the citizens in order to score an individual act coming from an individual citizen, therefore we use semi-supervised learning graph algorithms to extract the citizen concerns from the social networks. A mobile app including a wallet has been developed, where users can create a profile, review and complete challenges and store virtual coins in exchange for good actions. A web dashboard for cities was created to create and manage challenges and the final user experience, which can be via multiple devices.
10 pilots were carried out during the project is different countries and with different challenges, with very good feedback. Apart from this, we have achieved international and relevant media coverage during the project, we have increase our efforts in web positioning by creating content, inbound marketing, and media coverage, we have been presence in several worldwide events and we have been in several events worldwide and attracted and engaged international consultancies and large software integrators.
We have made a huge progress in many different angles, achieving international recognition thanks to this project. One of the biggest impacts of the project has been the technology part. We have researched, developed and transformed into a solution 2 patentable algorithms. This has also been one of the most challenging aspects of the project, as the bridge between R&D and the market is complex and the time/money investment is not proportional to the impact in sales. The good point of this is that great partners as NTT Data, Accenture, PWC, Everis or SAP are using our technology and incorporating it into their solutions. That, for us, is a guarantee that we have made a smooth process to transform a state of the art piece of technology into a solution for a real problem.
We have grown and consolidated our team into 11 outstanding professionals who lead a state of the art technology development and an outstanding value proposition that starts showing recurrent traction in the market. We have raised 355k€ from 7 angel investors who actively help us in strategy and introductions. We have also closed an agreement from NTT Docomo Ventures to lead our series A during 2019. At the moment of this report, we also got commitments from more 3 investors with a total sum of 1,5MM€ committed.
Regarding sales, that’s probably the least impressive milestone as (1) the ready-to-sell solution has been released beginning 2018 and (2) due to the slow go-to-market strategy that is based on an indirect approach through partners. We expect to consolidate our sales and capitalize all the 2018 efforts in creating an ecosystem of partners from 2019, where we should have a revenue of 1,6MM€. On the other hand, and related to sales, during 2018 we have started to build an ecosystem of partners who are selected, trained and have a unique value proposition built on top of our technology. Today, some of these 8 partners are selling without any support from our side recurrent projects that solve a real need in society.
Finally, but very important for us, during the project we have implemented more than 20 projects worldwide that have impacted in more than 100.000 people. In the near future, we calculate that our solution can evolve into something disrupting the whole society as Singularity University experts recognized.
"""Deeds"" Mobile application in Google Play"
screenshot of a documentation page
Social Coin for companies new interface
Frontend development, which will allow organizations to manage their own content, the users, etc
"""Deeds"" Screenshot of the rewarding page"