Thursday 6 March 2014

Making The World Safer for Women and Girls Through Open Innovation.

There are many challenges facing the global community including poverty. A recent UN report indicates that women make up a majority of the world's population living in poverty. As part of a five year plan to refine international aid, open innovation platform OpenIDEO has partnered with the UK's Department for International Development (DFID) and established a programme to tackle such challenges with the first focusing on improving the safety of women and girls in low income urban settlements. OpenIDEO will call on its 58,000 strong community of creative thinkers and designers to come up with innovative solutions to worldwide concerns for the safety of poverty stricken women and girls.

Founded in 2011 IDEO is a non-profit organisation dedicated to tackling extreme poverty through human-centred social innovation, i.e. bringing ideas to fruition that focus solely on the needs of the people. Through their open innovation platform OpenIDEO, an online collaborative environment has been fostered bringing together its community of designers and researches to find innovative solutions to some of the world's challenging social problems. Since then IDEO, through their platform have tackled a wide range of issues including clean drinking water, sanitization and immunization programs.

The aim of the Amplify Program set up by IDEO, in partnership with the Department for International Development, is to help fight the effects of extreme poverty around the world. Over the next five years Amplify will seek out ten innovation and design solutions through  the OpenIDEO platform. The first challenge focuses on the safety of women and girls in low in come urban neighbourhoods. According to a recent UN habitat report, women make up 70% of the world's population living in poverty. They face grave safety concerns which include, gender-based violence, unsafe housing as well as inadequate facilities such as poor sanitation. With more migration from rural areas to cities women and girls face even more safety concerns. The open innovation challenge will task designers and researchers to determine how to utilise the existing infrastructure of low income urban neighbourhoods and make them safer for women and girls. Factors to be considered feature the inclusion of men and boys to tackle the problem, co-ordination of safety points such as schools and bus stops, essentially finding ways to leverage the high population density to improve safety.

Currently the campaign is in the early stages of research with nearly 500 contributions made to date. At this stage, the community is bringing together as much information as possible including case studies, tools and examples that will help build a collective understanding of the problem. The community will then move onto formulating ideas for the campaign before moving onto selecting the best ones and refining them before the final shortlist scheduled for May. From the ideas collected the ten best will be selected for support by the challenge sponsor.

OpenIDEO is drawing knowledge and resource from its community of 58,000 innovative designers and creative thinkers from around 130 countries a mix amateurs starting out or veteran designers from all walks of life. Registering is essential for participation and OpenIDEO welcomes interest from any creative individuals. Click here for more information about the campaign and to register.

Image Credit; Wikimedia Commons

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