IdeaConnection Innovation

Posts in July 2011

Building Democracy in Egypt

Building Democracy in Egypt

Jul-30-11 By Aminda
A pair of journalists has started an insightful blog documenting the process of building a democracy in Egypt. With the first post-revolution parliamentary election to be held in September, there is much work to do. Political activists are using methods such as social media and crowdsourcing as efficient methods of engaging voters in discussion about the new constitution.
Enlisting the Crowd to Create Better Cities

Enlisting the Crowd to Create Better Cities

Jul-28-11 By Aminda
Around the world, cities and communities of all sizes are developing innovative methods for generating economic advancement.
In the U.S. state of Maine, the nonprofit organization Island Institute has enlisted members to create the Island and Coastal Innovation Fund. The goal of the fund is to make loans that will jump-start or increase the capacity of island-based and remote coastal businesses, and take an equity position in transformative business models. The $2 million economic-development tool is a strategy for developing collaborative approaches to sustainable economic viability, helping island and coastal entrepreneurs obtain capital to start or expand their businesses

Unleashing University Innovation

Jul-27-11 By Aminda
While educational institutions are responsible for training future innovators, many experts wonder if the bureaucratic structures and systems often found in public schools are keeping up with the pace of the rapidly changing global workforce and economy. From the classroom to the support staff, there is no lack of ideas on how to bring about transformation, particularly in the university setting.
Science Projects for All

Science Projects for All

Jul-26-11 By Aminda
The Daily Crowdsource recently published a great list of scientific research projects that enlist the public in their efforts. There are projects for any science enthusiast, whether intrigued by flora and fauna or fascinated by the stars in the sky. For example, The Encyclopedia of Life (EOL) is an ambitious project endeavoring to document every organism on earth, ultimately creating a webpage for each of the 1.9 million known species and perhaps a few yet to be discovered. All contributions from the crowd are reviewed by experts; partnering scientific institutions can be found around the globe, from China to South Africa. Project founders hope it will energize the science of biology – providing resources both to the scientific community, in tracking climate change for example, and the non-scientific community, such as material for classroom lesson plans.

Small Businesses Go Green

Jul-21-11 By Aminda
A recent post profiled some ways that innovative crowdsourcing projects are contributing to environmental efforts. They are far from being the only ways to get involved. While those endeavors had the backing of large organizations, there are plenty of ways for small businesses to creatively connect for a cause. EcoApprentice provides one option. The new site is an online community designed to connect students, nonprofits and businesses. Organizations looking for help solving sustainability-oriented issues can engage students in environmentally oriented challenges. So far, the new site has not generated a large volume of responses so contributors have a great chance of success. Most often the reward for a winner is intrinsic satisfaction and a resume line item. But some offer a token gift from the sponsors such as a free tote bag or a free night stay at a Bed and Breakfast.
Are Computers Making Us More or Less Smart?

Are Computers Making Us More or Less Smart?

Jul-20-11 By Aminda
Computers have clearly changed how we work – information is so accessible it’s almost like an external memory source. We’re losing our need to rely on memorization of facts as simple as a phone number or as complex as a foreign language. Now, a new study has actually shown that memory actually is impacted when a person knows a piece of information is saved on a computer.
The good news is that it may demonstrate more a shift in how we remember rather than a negative impact on memory. For example, rather than remember a piece of information, we remember where the information is saved on the computer.
What was inconclusive, however, according to study authors, is the impact of these changing memory patterns. If you stop focusing on memorizing facts, will the brain better remember concepts?
The Challenge of the Eco-challenge

The Challenge of the Eco-challenge

Jul-19-11 By Aminda
Innovators are called to participate in a series of environmental challenges. The challenge, sponsored by the Iowa Soybean Association and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), offers rewards of up to $15,000.
The inaugural challenges are focused on stopping nitrogen pollution in waterways. Currently more than 50% of fertilizer applied to commercial crops in the U.S. is not absorbed by the plants and is instead lost to water and air. Excess agricultural nitrogen (one of the main components of fertilizer) creates dead zones, places where fish cannot survive, in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico and Chesapeake Bay.

Can Crowdsourcing Predict the Future?

Jul-18-11 By Aminda
A U.S. organization is attempting to build a better prediction engine to help experts make more accurate decisions about world events.
Sponsored by IARPA, within the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and supported by a team of academics, the project gives intelligence agencies an alternative to relying on experienced specialists.

Innovating to Prevent Neglected Diseases

Jul-16-11 By Aminda
Last month, German health authorities identified the most likely source of the deadly E. coli bacteria that killed 22 people and made more than 2,000 ill across Europe.
With this development, came the release of the genomic data to the international community for ‘crowdsourcing’ alongside a site for people to download up-to-date analyses and a Twitter feed.
From that data, BGI and the Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology have developed a PCR-based diagnostic protocol to rapidly identify the outbreak strain. They have released a detailed protocol of the method and will provide the designed and synthesised primers free to any disease control and research agency worldwide.
The Future of Global Healthcare Innovation

The Future of Global Healthcare Innovation

Jul-15-11 By Aminda
The race is on to improve healthcare systems and there are plenty of opportunities for innovators to get involved.
Private-Government Connections
In the U.S., a private sector-government partnership called Health 2.0  is focused on using government data sets to build apps that will make information more accessible, encouraging disease prevention and improving the quality of health care.    
There are several ways to participate. Health 2.0 sponsors events such as online code-a-thons and in person conferences. Upcoming conferences will be held in San Francisco in September and Berlin in October.