We are at the vanguard of the web’s capacity for problem-solving and improving the human condition, but many barriers still remain converting ideas into real-world solutions. IdeaScale removes those barriers, catalyzing and democratizing the forces of the web to help people identify and develop solutions to issues in their communities.
You may remember hearing a funny story a few years ago about a viral video showing people tripping over the same step at a New York City subway station. A filmmaker had observed that everyone in his neighborhood stumbled over one particular step at his station. He compiled footage of people tripping into a humorous montage and shared the film on Vimeo. The movie resonated with New Yorkers and people around the world, gaining hundreds of thousands of views. New York’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority happened to be in the audience and quickly sent a crew to investigate and fix the problem.
While the broken subway step story is a classic example of the power of the web to help solve real-world issues, not everyone has the time, creativity, social media and video editing skills–not to mention pure dumb luck–to produce a viral video that grabs the attention of stakeholders who can solve your problem. The subway step video filmmaker himself recognized the fleeting nature of the spotlight he had generated and lamented that he had not focused on “something bigger”. But here’s where IdeaScale helps: healthy IdeaScale communities don’t need users to produce a viral-hit video to champion a cause.
In fact, successful ideas submitted to IdeaScale don’t even need to be fully formed. IdeaScale is an incubator for growing ideas: our software helps users frame, develop, debate, refine and collaborate around submissions ranging the gamut from the most detailed and well-engineered plan to the most outside-the-box daydream. City government engagement programs run on IdeaScale have grown nascent ideas from citizens into successful projects, ultimately generating millions of dollars in savings. One city used IdeaScale to funnel top-voted ideas submitted by citizens to city officials for additional rounds of refinement, budget analysis and implementation. Another state government optimized their tourism marketing from an idea submitted to their community. And outside of civic engagement, enterprise organizations have used IdeaScale as part of their product-development lifecycle; submissions to IdeaScale communities have matured into top-selling new products.
Moderators for an IdeaScale community for the city of Huntsville, Alabama noticed a pattern in idea submissions they dubbed “happy hour ideation”: a bump in submissions on Friday afternoon near the end of the work day, when people were ostensibly feeling more playful, optimistic and creative. IdeaScale allowed Huntsville tap into that well of optimism and creativity, ultimately helping the city exceed project goals for its citizen engagement program. Imagine if that same New York-based filmmaker had access to an IdeaScale community: he might have multiple great ideas to submit off the top of his head, at considerably less cost than creating a viral video for each one. People are hungry to engage with and contribute positively to their communities and IdeaScale provides a low-cost, low-barrier mechanism for creating that engagement.
This blog post is part of a series authored by IdeaScale employees. It showcases how they’re thinking about crowdsourcing and innovation as part of their daily routine. Feel free to ask questions or make comments.
This post is by Alex Rivadeneira, Associate Developer at IdeaScale.