Innovation Labs Attract Wide Public Interest in Jordan

7iber Labs, the first social innovation event of its kind in Jordan, brought together over 50 activists, journalists, social entrepreneurs, graphic designers and programmers in February to explore and develop digital solutions to existing social problems.

Two participants discussing
The camp’s participants worked on digital solutions to existing social issues. (credit: Internews)

Using ideas and input solicited from the public, the camp’s participants worked on digital solutions as varied as citizen media monitoring groups and apps for streaming traffic updates to monitoring produce prices via SMS. The event attracted dozens of twitter followers who requested similar events are conducted in the future.

Over the period of two days, five international, regional and local experts guided the creative process, as well as delivered sessions on various areas of digital development, such as visual design, developing business plans, creating content and crowdsourcing information. Guests from Palestine and Lebanon attended the event with a view of facilitating networks and replicating the event on a regional level in the future. Of the eight ideas that made it to the event, three were the final winners and received small grants dedicated to the development of the apps and websites.

Twitter feed from social innovation campBox’t Bandora (Tomato Box) is a website/SMS service for monitoring produce prices in the Jordan valley. Consumers in Jordan suffer from a fluctuation in prices of vegetables, based on random retail prices and an exaggerated profit margin by middlemen. The tools will be developed in association with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Consumer Protection Association.

Sharakah (partnership) is a web platform which connects Jordan’s civil society organizations with volunteers. 7arat.com (neighborhoods.com) is a web forum that connects neighbors and empowers them to take collectively act and exert pressure on local authorities to improve basic services.

Other ideas included: Nisa’a, a web site project dedicated to creating a database of information on Arab women movements and activists throughout history; Public Media watchdog, a public online and mainstream media monitor where news quality and credibility is rated by the public; and Delni.com, a mapping service that provides traffic updates and shortcuts to drivers and pedestrians.

The event was organized and implemented by 7iber with the support and supervision of Internews. “The first Labs event served as a good pilot project, and we hope to be able to replicate it on the national and regional level soon,” said Ramsy Tesdell, 7iber Project Manager.

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