It’s been six months since we helped launch the first Social Innovation Hub in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, with a mission to make the most of technology in tackling social challenges and advancing human development.
The Hub already has a reputation for being ‘the place where all the magic happens’.
And rightly so: In a very short time period, we’ve tested and prototyped over ten exciting ideas – some of which turned out to be real game-changers.
Here’s a taste of what’s been done so far:
Disaster app – The first-ever public safety mobile app in the region is set to make a major contribution to public safety. The app provides access to detailed information about a range of dangerous events ranging from earthquakes and floods to potential hazards, such as violent thunderstorms and heavy snowfalls.
The app has already been replicated in Kosovo, with real potential for growing into a regional platform. Given the recent flooding in neighboring Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, it couldn’t be more timely.
SMS and Facebook Help Farmers reduce pollution – This simple SMS app provides apple-growing farmers with real-time advice on the best time of day to spray their crops. The application is supported with a Facebook page where farmers can find detailed information and instructions. Over 600 farmers in Prespa are currently using it on a regular basis.
We’re also using gamification as a fun means of educating farmers and their families on how to grow crops using eco-agricultural measures. In addition to working on real-time agriculture, gamers will develop and enhance their skills in other sectors necessary to protect the Prespa region.
UN Social Innovation Challenge – The first of its kind in the country, ‘Create change – make a positive impact’ was launched on the 20th anniversary of the country gaining membership in the United Nations.
The goal was to find innovative solutions to three key developmental challenges:gender equality, rural healthcare, and environmental protection. The Social Innovation Hub’s team is currently working with the winners on developing their prototypes (see pp. 20-21).
PRV.mk – This one-stop website and mobile app enables young people to find out about the latest job openings, internship opportunities and volunteer positions across the country. Two months after launching, the app has been downloaded by more than 4,500 people and has received some great reviews!
My Municipality – A new initiative to spur greater public inclusion in local policy-making, this project allows the citizens of four municipalities to specify their priorities for local action with just a few touches on a screen.
Skopje Green Routes – Based on a Google Maps platform the Skopje Green Routes planner will enable us to:
- Plan our trips in the capital by informing us about the quickest, greenest and cheapest routes
- Get real-time information on traffic congestion
- Find real-time levels of air pollution
- Get information about all bicycle rental points, parking places, bus lines, and timetables
Proxy data for disaster resilience and planning – This dynamic platform aims to provide national and local authorities with proxy data to better assess the population’s vulnerability towards disasters and strengthen the planning and response capacities of the emergency services.
And this is just the beginning. We’ve got plenty of new creative ideas in store.
We’re still very much rookies at all of this, so we would love to hear tips and hints from fellow hubs and innovators: What’s worked for you and what hasn’t?