Disrupt & Innovate

4 new blockchain and big data projects agreed by civil society innovators

14th March 2018 by Thomas Howie

Blockchain and Big Data can transform how international civil society organisations (ICSOs) work and what they achieve. To benefit from them, collaboration between ICSOs is essential. At our 2018 Innovators Forum on 27-28 February 2018, experts gathered to work on new projects using Blockchain and Big Data to solve problems.

If the civil society sector does not organise now, then the potential of Big Data and Blockchain may be lost altogether. That was the feeling among 30 innovators and digital experts gathered at our 2nd Innovators Forum.

The motivation to act now is to avoid making the same mistake our sector made with the internet. In the early days of the internet, no one knew its true potential. However, big corporations were quick to react, capitalising on this digital innovation. They took the lead and made decisions that affected our lives and way of working. The likes of Google and Facebook capitalised, while civil society voices were not heard on important issues, such as data privacy and security. Ever since, we have been playing catch-up, rather than leading digital innovation.

Collaborating on Big Data and Blockchain

Our Innovators Forum participants agreed, this time civil society should grasp the opportunities presented by Big Data and Blockchain. They decided that to deliver benefits to all, civil society needs to act now and together.

Participants agreed to develop four projects on how to use Big Data or Blockchain technology in the work of CSOs:

  • Data-driven advocacy partnerships for SDGs: Develop a data collaboration method focussed on evidence-driven advocacy for the leave no one behind agenda. Using the Centre’s current Leave No One Behind project as a case study on how to use big data effectively at different project stages.
  • Big Data for Impact measurement: Use various Big Data sets to discover new insights. Create an impact measurement tool to improve decision making in in the area of advocacy.
  • Plan Omega: Explore how establishing a “CSO Blockchain” could enhance efforts to protect and expand civic space. Map relevant CSO actors and technological experts to gauge the viability of building the CSO blockchain.
  • Cryptocurrency and CSO transaction costs: Explore the possibilities of using an existing or establishing a new cryptocurrency for the CSO sector exclusively, this group will seek to answer the question: “Could the use of a cryptocurrency help reduce transaction costs for CSOs?”

Forum participants will take forward the four working areas. We are looking forward to seeing how these proposals progress. The Centre will provide support as needed and report on their progress on this blog.Interested in the Innovators Forum or the work areas? You can contact Mathias Henriksen at mhenriksen@icscentre.org.

Thomas Howie

Communications Manager

International Civil Society Centre

Thomas joined the Centre in June 2017 as the Communications Coordinator. He is responsible for developing and implementing the Centre’s global communication strategy, as well as the Disrupt & Innovate platform – a place for civil society professionals and activists to discuss current innovations and future trends in the civil society sector. Prior to the Centre, Thomas worked for 5 years in the European Parliament firstly as the Digital and Social Media Coordinator for the Socialists and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, and then, after the 2014 European elections, for Jude Kirton-Darling and Paul Brannen as Head of Communications, where he worked on issues such as the EU-US trade deal, issues around Brexit and as a specialist on the Petitions Committee. Thomas graduated from Bristol University with BSci in Geographical Sciences and holds an MA in Peace Studies from the University of Bradford, where he completed research into the role of civil society in the post war peace settlement in northern Uganda.