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The Challenge


How might we improve the way citizens and governments interact? Read the challenge brief


Liberating OpenGov: From Laptops To Sidewalks

Create live dashboards in prominent neighborhood spaces, and distribute toolkits to help citizens and community organizations run social experiments to move the needles in real time. Share successes and best practices across GOOD’s global community.
What’s the problem?
In communities around the country, individuals and organizations work hard to make an impact through both individual efforts and organized programs. But it’s hard to rally people to action (much less to drive *sustained engagement*) when impact at the community level is difficult to track. We might see that we made a difference for those directly involved, but what did we achieve for our neighborhood as a whole? An inability to answer that question--What have we accomplished together?--erodes the community’s collective will to take action.

What’s our solution?
We believe we can help kickstart a virtuous cycle of results-oriented community action by creating a platform for robust social experiments at the community level. There are three components to the platform (details on all three further below):

Action Toolkits - physical and digital materials that help individuals and/or
organizations rally their communities to action around specific goals
Dashboards - digital billboards in prominent neighborhood spaces that display relevant community metrics in real time

Storytelling - sharing successes through GOOD’s channels ( editorial, social media, GOOD Local, video)

Together, these three components create a positive feedback loop for learning and doing: (1) Action Toolkits help organizers plan, coordinate, and rally an effort; (2) the Dashboard provides immediate feedback on the success of the effort; (3) through Storytelling, successful tactics are shared with other communities for replication and adoption.

Action Toolkits
  • Provide the means for organizations and/or individuals to lead live experiments that seek to engage the community to impact relevant metrics in real time
  • Contents could include:
     - Community organizing action plans
     - Event-in-a-box kit
     - Poster/signage templates
     - Talking points to use at meetings/events
     - Buttons/stickers/badges to recognize engagement
  • Toolkits can be distributed to community groups (e.g. NPOs, associations) or individuals; all they need is a desire to make a change, and willingness to engage and rally their community

  • Digital billboards (e.g. these from ClearChannel, potentially made available through a corporate citizenship partnership) programmed with beautiful live infographic displays
  • Partner with community groups and local government entities to decide on relevant metrics
  • Metrics should be dynamic, frequently-updating (ideally allowing for day-over-day or week-over-week comparisons), and responsive to individual/community effort. Thought-starter examples
     - Daily public transit ridership at local stops
     - Attendance at weekly town/city council meetings
     - Daily student attendance at local schools
  • Create a rich online version of the dashboard where community members can see current status and dive deeper, e.g. into historical data, future projections

  • Create as a place to highlight successes and share learnings
     - Selected experiments and community dashboards tracked in real time
     - Regular editorial series profiling participating communities
     - Community voices spotlight series featuring user-submitted written and video 
  • GOOD Local chapters convene events to help organizers launch, sustain, and celebrate their experiments with the community

Who are we?
GOOD is a global community of pragmatic idealists Learning and Doing to drive collective progress. We connect through, our online global citizenship platform (4M+ uniques per month, 100k+ registered members), social media (800k+ Twitter followers; 230k+ Fb followers), video (35M+ streams in the past year), a print magazine (230k+ readers), and events (20k+ attendees in the past year). In addition to our editorial, creative services, programming/tech, and partnerships capacities on the media side, our in-house social innovation consultancy, GOOD/Corps, works with leading foundations, nonprofits, and brands to build programs, products, and campaigns that drive audience engagement and create social impact. 

What is your project? [1 sentence max]

A platform that combines social action toolkits, live public data, and powerful storytelling to enable robust local experiments in driving social change and civic engagement.

Where are you located?

Headquartered in Los Angeles, California, USA. GOOD Local chapters are launching in Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in April, and more in June.

How did you hear about the contest?

  1. Email from Knight Foundation
  2. Knight Foundation website
  3. Word of mouth
Jacob's profile photo
entry submitted by: Jacob Appel
March 15, 2013, 09:00PM
266 views 11 comments 24 applause Applaud


Join the conversation and post a comment.

April 01, 2013, 10:05AM
Great way to provide feedback to the community, so they can see their own progress!
March 28, 2013, 05:58PM
Absolutely awesome! Would be amazing if local city officials would get involved and help propel this idea
March 19, 2013, 02:59PM
Billboards to track goals towards localized common good? Brilliant. From visual pollution to visual solution.
Eli Kaufman's reply to Manuel Rodriguez's comment
March 27, 2013, 02:58PM
I really like the billboard approach. And GOOD's clean design sense will actually beautify our roads!
March 27, 2013, 02:36PM
Hope it goes through!!
March 17, 2013, 07:18PM
Awesome idea. What we need a lot more of is metrics, measurement and evidence-based thinking. There's really little reason why we're not analyzing the heck out of things, correlation-hunting as it were, to reduce replication and implement best-practices based on data.

I'm not a huge fan of billboards, especially the behemouth electric ones they're trying to get through in many major cities including ours so perhaps focusing on a SMS-based notification system but, promote the service widely through traditional media?

GOOD is awesome BTW :)
Max Schorr's reply to Manuel Rodriguez's comment
March 18, 2013, 09:51PM
Great comment. I hear you on the need for more metrics and analysis. And while the giant electronic billboards can be kind of annoying, wouldn't it be awesome if they were used as a real time dashboard for the state of the neighborhood?
Jerry Hall's reply to Manuel Rodriguez's comment
March 19, 2013, 02:06AM
Hey Max - I know what you mean about displaying the metrics. Perhaps you can work with the advertising agencies (Clear Channel, CBS etc.) to have them blend in public service announcements between their car and perfume ads?

They will likely have the ability to do this and this might be a leverage point communities have before they give any approval to these companies? i.e. put right in the contract that approved content from the city must be given X% of the primetime viewing slots (even if only 5% it would be very valuable).

My point relating to communication though was there is compelling evidence (ie. see myriad mobile-related research on that mobile is going to be *the* platform to deliver content.
Alessandra Rizzotti's reply to Manuel Rodriguez's comment
March 19, 2013, 01:27PM
Billboards could definitely start conversations. As long as they're informative, I'm all for them.
Max Schorr's reply to Manuel Rodriguez's comment
March 27, 2013, 02:18PM
That's a great idea, Jerry, to partner with Clear Channel, CBS and other holders of inventory, and would definitely help make this stronger and reach more people.
March 19, 2013, 02:37PM
This is awesome - what a way to use group thought to promote more good. I think it's important to see the data in order to encourage greater shift/change. Really lovely.


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