Social Innovation Camp Scotland


I'm reviewing my notes from helping out at Social Innovation Camp. Mainly routing Brett where he needed to go and registering web domains for the projects that needed them.

It was interesting looking at the projects that came out of the ideas submitted to the camp. Already the projects are gaining momentum after the final presentation. There was one winner, although a few of the other projects are already looking at ways of keeping going.

Other people have blogged about the projects already.

I took some notes of what I thought about each project and I'll put them down just now.

  1. Fixthebuses

Website link: hitch 'n bitch

Also called hitch 'n bitch. It's a mechanism for getting real-time information for where the buses are. You text a number with the format of
route no
current location

It will return how long it will take for the next bus to be there and will also give you the time for the next bus on your route to be there.

You can also do this with the web interface. What the web interface also does is allow you to complain about how long the bus is taking or what you think about the bus service. So it can be a feedback service as well.

However as the fixthebus team pointed out, this is not a technical problem, the data is out there. The problem is that the data is locked up within the transport providers own systems. They are unwilling to open up that real-time data as they see that data as valuable commercially. The team got the live data by scraping the data. It was not based on timetable data. Admittedly you could use the timetable data and compare it to the actual real-time data.

This service could be valuable to the bus companies and the local council to pinpoint problem routes. Not just in terms of how late the bus is, it could take passenger comments about how unsafe they feel at certain times of night. It could look at how traffic at certain times of day affects the bus routes and become a planner to advise passengers of alternative routes.

Brett and I have watched this team put all this together in such a short while. The texting service was live for the presentation. It only covered the Edinburgh area at that point, although I feel that it could expand nationwide.

What's more, you can help! Yes, you can, how can you help? Campaign for the Freedom of live bus information. Not just the timetables say where they should be, but where the buses are at any given point in time.2. ## Angelfish

Is a community micro-lending project. There are other successful micro-lenders out there so they did have some good precedents. They seemed to concentrate more on the design, business plan and marketing then they did on the technical part. So while I liked the concept of encouraging local people to lend small amounts to local businesses to enable them to improve the local community, I'm not sure that it technically followed the remit of social innovation camp.

One part of the presentation I found interesting was to get people that were savvy with computing and social networks to be placed in each participating community would be connectors and would guide people who were not familiar with the technology on how to use it. I was reminded of Brett's Internet Tours that he told me about back in the mid-nineties.

  1. Wee Day out

Twitter link: weedayout

Now the idea of listing accessible toilets did touch me as my mother is disabled. When I was visiting South Africa it was interesting noting what attractions we could and could not wheel her wheelchair to.

If you have to care for a severely disabled person or even have a disabilty yourself, then you will have to plan any days out around what toilets there are.

Wee day out is designed to map accessible toilets throughout Scotland. However, this is no mere listing on Google Maps. What this will also do is enable feedback to those toilet owners and to other disabled users. So if your toilet is locked and the key to open that toilet is up a flight of stairs in the security guard's office, it's not very accessible is it! This tool will enable disabled users and their carers to feedback pictures and comments about sites with accessible toilets. This will also mean that other sites that aren't listed on existing accessible maps but do have accessible facilities can be listed.

Accessible attractions can also be listed as nearby to the toilets, after all, you would not go on a day out just to go to the loo!

  1. Flocklocal

Twitterlink : flocklocal

Flocklocal is the idea of utilising flash mobbing to do good. Its purpose is to utilise impulse volunteering. The domain is

The only data that is stored on the site is your email address and your avatar. No other data will be collected. The team wish to encourage impulse participation by publicity with career fairs, Facebook, Twitter etc.

So when you log on to flocklocal you can register yourself as a volunteer or register a local project or event that needs people. The flocklocal team demonstrated that concept by setting up a flock for a local garden project.

  1. Citipedia

Twitterlink: citipedia

Utilising Google Maps and a unique interface to allow people within communities to target unused spaces within cities and towns. You can input where the area is and then select various components to plan a park. Each park component like a see-saw or a pond has a cost associated with it.

Utilising this tool you can start to create a plan for the public space along with costings and use it as part of a campaign to get the derelict space used for everyone rather than creating yet another soul-less estate of lego houses.

  1. MyPolice (Winner of Social Innovation Camp Scotland 2009)

As the Judges deliberated, I was chatting to one of the team members for mypolice. She was already thinking of alternative options in-case they did not win. She felt that they would need a cooling-off period and then would try to raise funding. One thing she and I both wondered was how long the losing projects keep going. I remembered that useful visitors seemed to be moving along. Certainly compared to the last winning project the good gym.

Finishing thoughts

While I'm glad that MyPolice won, I was really rooting for fixthebuses. This is because before I learned to drive I took a lot of public transport from Aberdeen to Edinburgh and used it for getting about in Aberdeen. So anything that can aid the use of public transport and is a simple text service I love the idea of.

I did enjoy the weekend and would be interesting in helping out at another camp in the future.

SICAMP will be happening in Central Eastern Europe and also in Australia.

SICAMP Twitterlink: sicamp

Social Innovation Camp Website: