The Collective Awareness Platforms for Sustainability and Social Innovation (CAPS) are ICT systems leveraging the emerging "network effect" by combining open online social media, distributed knowledge creation and data from real environments ("Internet of Things") in order to create new forms of social innovation.
The Collective Awareness Platforms are expected to support environmentally aware, grassroots processes and practices to share knowledge, to achieve changes in lifestyle, production and consumption patterns, and to set up more participatory democratic processes.
Is our lifestyle sustainable?
Our world has progressed tremendously in the last decades, but its sustainability is threatened by equally tremendous challenges related to natural resources and environmental constraints, which are at the root of environmental, financial, energy and social crises. Several efforts have been made by governments and public organisations to cope with these crises, however much more can be done if citizens are more actively involved, in a grassroots manner. There is consensus about the global span of the problem, but little awareness of the role that each and every one of us can play in coping with this.
Be the change you wish to see in the world.
Is it possible to connect, share, collaborate, decide, act - locally or globally - without mediation?
Gandhi said "If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change", as part of his higher vision that unjust authority can be non-violently overturned only by great numbers of people working together with discipline and persistence.
Similarly, the vision behind this call is that individuals can collectively save the planet if they are given the opportunity to act socially, based on trusted information. The key is enabling access to trusted knowledge about the state of the environment, the actions underway in our Communities to improve that situation, and the impact of our own actions.
The extended awareness can be enabled by ICT technologies, for instance by exploiting paradigms from both Wikipedia and Facebook to develop decentralised and federated social networks, interfaced in real-time to the environment through networks of sensors, participated and owned by any single citizen, both in terms of access and content creation.
These "Platforms for Collective Awareness and Action" will support environmentally aware, grassroots processes and practices to share knowledge, to achieve changes in lifestyle, production and consumption patterns, and to set up more participatory democratic processes.
The distributed situational awareness enabled by such platforms can then have concrete impacts, for instance in empowering (and motivating) citizens to make informed decisions and consumer choices, in real time, fostering collective environmentally-savvy behavioural changes and a more direct democratic participation. These platforms would be collective tools of social innovation, to design new visions of sustainable societies and environmentally sound solutions.
Concrete examples of technical functionalities would include:
- accessing real-time and easily understandable information on resource consumption
- comparing individual lifestyles against some ecological / environmental benchmark
- defining and accessing complex environmental models and simulations
Ultimately, these platforms will enable dialogues and discussions in the civil society to collectively orchestrate the most appropriate actions in a truly democratic, informed and non-mediated manner.
How to build platforms for Collective Awareness and Action?
To implement this vision, DG CONNECT has launched a call for proposals, under objective 5.5 of workprogramme 2013, which will close on 15 January 2013. A number of workshops and infodays have been recently held in Europe (see details on the Events page). Here you can download the latest presentation describing this open call (Paris, 16 October 2012).