Open Innovation Search for Data-Driven Solutions for the Urban Environment

Published Aug-21-17

A novel way to reduce queuing times and increase use of public transportation.

Government of the Republic of Korea

The Story:

Open Innovation Search for Data-Driven Solutions for the Urban Environment There is no need to reinvent the wheel, not if a solution to your problem already exists or someone else can work it out for you. All you need to do then is go and find them. That is one of the benefits of open innovation, connecting solution seekers with solution providers. And one of the mechanisms that makes this possible is open innovation contests.

Their many benefits include transformative results that can be applied more quickly in the marketplace and at a fraction of the cost. But the advantages are not just one way: they are mutual. For solution providers there can be financial rewards, publicity and access to investors and other parties who can help make their ideas happen.

In May 2016, the Government of the Republic of Korea, UNDP (United Nations Development Program) Asia and the Pacific and the United Nations Global Pulse launched the Big Ideas Competition for Sustainable Cities and Urban Communities. It invited submissions from people in countries across Asia and the Pacific, tasking them with coming up with concepts to make cities and other human settlements, resilient, safe and sustainable.

Date-Driven Solutions

Specifically, organizers of the open innovation contest were after ideas that would make use of big, open or crowdsourced data to improve resilience to natural disasters and climate change, enhance sustainable transport and energy and create harmonious urban environments.

"Given the complexities of challenges that cities in Asia are faced with, we need to encourage as well as give recognition to citizens’ ideas and insights in developing the next generation of innovations," said Nicholas Rosellini, UNDP’s Deputy Regional Director for Asia and the Pacific and Director of the Bangkok Regional Hub.

Teams from nine countries took part, submitting close to 300 proposals, which underwent a two-stage evaluation process. Judges based their assessments on the quality of the ideas, the relevance of the issues tackled by them and whether a prototype had been built.


The Grand Prize was awarded to the Queues for Queues project from the Republic of Korea - a proposal to crowdsource information about queuing in public places to help reduce waiting times and increase the use of public transportation services.

Among the other winners were:

TUNE Map: Crowdsourcing the Mapping of Accessible Pedestrian Routes for Blind Citizens in Bandung (Indonesia) - a proposal to crowdsource information from citizens of Bandung on accessible pedestrian routes, which could help others with visual impairments.

Vietnamese Youth Promoting the S-City Application to Create Safe Cities and Communities for Women and Girls (Vietnam) - a social network for people to share their experiences and post emergency calls and messages related to safety in public spaces.

Country-specific prizes were also awarded.

Cash Prizes

Each of the winning teams were awarded financial prizes to help them bring their ideas to life.

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