The intellect, experience and wisdom of the crowd can also be harnessed to tackle poverty and the aftermath of natural disasters. Here are three examples of open innovation for the common good:
The Sanitation Challenge competition – In 2010 FINISH – a not for profit organization set up to improve sanitation in rural India – launched a contest for new sanitation system designs. Lack of access to adequate sanitation is a huge problem in the country where approximately 638 million people resort to open defecation (according to UNICEF). The problems are due to poorly built toilets and no clearly defined standards for latrines.
The contest resulted in a number of innovative ideas including a combined shower, urine diversion, dry latrine and drip irrigation system.
OI Contest following Haiti earthquake – one of the biggest problems affecting survivors of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti was the threat from infectious diseases, particularly TB. The Kay e Santé nan Ayiti (Creole for Housing and Health in Haiti) open innovation competition encouraged participants to come up with housing solutions that would minimize the threat from airborne infection.
There were five winning designs including an Anglo-American team of engineers, doctors and architects who created the Breathe House. It makes use of natural light and ventilation, provides access to clean water and can be constructed with local materials by non-skilled people.
Apps to help the poor help themselves – a contest to devise apps that could help to improve the lives of low-income users. It was sponsored by One Economy Corporation, a global non-profit organization and AT & T. The winning app makes it easier for immigrants to send money back to their native countries. It also offers advice to immigrants about the benefits of banking.