Social innovationin Inclusive Society
Social innovation is increasingly seen as a way of compensating for insufficiencies of both state and private business to address societal challenges such as ageing societies, climate change, and social inequality. Social innovations help satisfy unmet needs in society – in general, they help improve quality of life. Social innovation is an important aspect of cultural development and societal change.
We define social innovation as new products, services or processes that are social in both their ends and their means. Typically, social innovation is introduced by members of the civil society or non-profit organisations. Such innovations are not commercial and often would not permit making profits, so private enterprises have no interest in them. Furthermore, the state may not be able or ready to provide such innovative services. However, both private enterprises and public governments may support social innovation actors in their endeavours to provide new public goods.
“Digital social innovation” has emerged as a specific new topic within social innovation, triggered by advances in internet technologies. The notion refers to information and communication technologies (ICTs) that help tackle social challenges. In particular, social media provide new opportunities for linking up with like-minded activists.
More specifically, the European Commission is strategically supporting “collective awareness platforms”. These are ICT systems that leverage network effects by combining open online social media, distributed knowledge creation, and data from real environments (the “internet of things”). empirica co-ordinates the CAP4Access project, which aims to collectively improve accessibility in European cities. It involves enhancing the “Wheelmap”, one of the most prestigious online means to improve quality of life of wheelchair users and other people with mobility restrictions.