The FINANCIAL — Save the Trees, project by Mariam Sukhudian from Armenia and GiveMeInfo by David Chaganava from Georgia won special prize of First Social Innovation Camp in Caucasus. Winner received 3,000 USD.
Both projects aim to develop social media and its influence on society. First Social Innovation Camp in Caucasus gathered 40 participants to work on an idea of a potential social start-up that can make a change.
Save The Trees idea is to create a public environmental website, which will allow each and every citizen in Yerevan to map/report tree cutting or any kind of violation with regard to green areas in the city. GiveMeInfo Website will generate statistics of the information flow from public service agencies in Georgia.
The first “Social Innovation Camp Caucasus” and the first International Conference “Social Media for Social Change” were held in Tbilisi last week. Over the course of two days, April 9 and 10, the representatives of leading innovation technology companies, web designers, university professors, representatives of non-governmental and governmental organizations, journalists and bloggers from the United States, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Europe shared their experience on different issues. The FINANCIAL is providing informational sponsorship of the camp.
“The first reason for why I decided to take part in this project was the desire to meet my colleagues from Georgia and Armenia and to conduct some projects together with them. It would be a really great experience to make a successful project in such a short period of time,” said a participant of the camp from Azerbaijan.
“I am a representative of one of the 6 themes called No Problem. In my view, conferences and events like this should definitely be held more often,” said an Armenian participant.
According to officials, during this event participants shared their experience on issues like: social media as the social changes’ accelerator; civic journalism; the role of traditional and untraditional media in transitional democracy countries; blogging and so on.
“The Social Innovation Camp will take place in parallel to the conference on April 9 in the same building and will bring together web designers, experienced journalists, marketing specialists and NGO representatives from Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia,” said Keti Khutsishvili, Executive Director of Fund Open Society Georgia.
“At the conference the role of Social media and its influence on society will be considered. During the 48 hours spent in the Camp the participants will have the opportunity to transform their ideas into web-based innovations.
Since organizing a camp with more than 100 themes, 6 of the best have been chosen. These 6 themes will be organized and arranged in the camp over 48 hours. The themes represented in the camp are about environment problems, information accessibility problems, human right problems and so on,” Khutsishvili says.
After 2 days of work, the groups made a web model of social projects in the form of a webpage. This project might be put on social networks or placed on Google Maps. The groups were working on this on their personal computers. Out of 6 of the ideas only two became winners. The first project was chosen by a jury of Social Media’s 5 European Experts. The other project was elected by participants of the conference.
“The Social Innovation Camp was held for the first time in London in 2007 and in Bratislava in September, 2009 and it is a project without borders in 2009,” said the author of this idea, the new media specialist Mr. Dan McQuillan.
“The Camp’s participants are well familiar with the country’s social needs and have ideas that can help solve social challenges by using digital tools.
According to the officials, over the 48 hours spent in the Camp the participants had the opportunity to transform their ideas into web-based innovations. The authors of the winning ideas will have the chance to turn their project into reality after the Camp.
“The main message of this conference and camp is that you can make a lot of positive changes in your community using the web and other technologies. This is the first social media and international conference that we have held. PH International has held various other projects in the past and they were all wonderfully successful. They brought together people from across borders to discuss social issues. So I hope this project will be as successful as the other programmes have been,” said Elizabeth Metraux, PH International Program Director.
“The idea of a Social Innovation Camp comes from the UK, where along with the increase of use of social web tools, now the SICamp gurus started thinking of using these tools for practical purposes, to help people solve social problems through digital tools,” noted Social Innovation Camp Caucasus officials.
According to SIC-Caucasus, social innovation begins with people. It is not any more solely dependent on governments, institutions or corporations, who were in charge of delivering social goods from top-down who treated people as passive recipients of what they were suggested to.
“Thanks to the web, forming a group and organising coordinated action became really easy. With the many-to-many information flow, the cost of communication and collaboration has become extremely low. The idea of organizing Social Innovation Camp Caucasus came from a camp in Bratislava, Slovakia (September, 2009), which made us believe that 48 hours are enough to turn an idea in to reality if there are people who believe in it and also have different skills to contribute to the idea,” noted SIC-Caucasus.