Technology might have been the big development driver in past decades, but more and more it is clear that the future will be different. Right now we are in this middle, confusing stage in which nobody really has an idea of what this different could be.
Understanding change has a lot to do with the right communication. Imagine what difference it would make, if the majority of people who think to deal with digitalisation would understand that in fact what they do is only digitisation – the mere process of converting analogue information into digital bits. Digitalisation goes over that technology-centric view. It is the phenomenon of adoption of new technologies. It is brave embracement of the new possibilities to bring the human experience to a new level.
Customer-, human-, community-centric and similar expressions are already popping up. Customer is the king, is the new religion! Oh, one more religion. Here, again, the importance of communicating the right meaning. Customer? In digitalisation melt the roles. Who will be the provider and who the customer in the reality where end-users will have the chance to sell own produced or stored power to the power grid? Coming to the king – yes, we should all have the feeling of being served by technology as kings, bur for that we need an active community in which needs and wishes are properly recognized … in order to be served.
And here we come to the role of collaboration and participation. If we really need to find a new religion, than co-creation could be the one. But, huh, how to bring masses to co-create? How to mobilise people around the world to think for you?
One of the success stories is the fast growing initiative NASA Space Apps Challenge which in five years has grown into one of the worldwide biggest mass-collaborations between governmental, academic and business world with the aim to solve the challenges of space and life on Earth. Last year over 12,700 participants in more than 130 locations in 60 countries created almost 1,000 projects. This year the event took place end of April in about 180 locations from which the three winning teams will proceed into the finals under the NASA jury.
From the initial idea of a hackathon, an event bringing together innovative souls with technical background to work for 2 days on predefined problems and develop technical solutions, this initiative has developed into much more. Now it is focusing on giving space to interdisciplinarity and open-source solutions in various forms; mobile applications, software, hardware, data visualisation and platform solutions. Everyone from storytellers, designers, biologists, physicists to coders is welcome. And they were there, also in Vienna, this year for the second time solving 26 challenges published by NASA.
Five French friends, each currently living in another country, flew to Vienna “because it is somehow in the middle”, to have a weekend of fun … working together. They developed a Jet Pack as a grasshopper which allows the astronaut to use a short and powerful impulsion to induce a leap in order to easily access the bottom of crater or explore an upper plateau. Second of the seven teams pitched the solution which can remain airborne for unlimited duration and distance and even reach orbit using only hydrogen as lifting gas, solar power as energy source and molecules from the atmosphere as propellant. The winners address the big question about the emergence of life. They developed a theoretical mission to an ice moon, where a landing unit with the telecommunication system anchors itself on the surface and guides a probe into the ground. In a pilot project in cooperation with Innogees two refugees took part at the event supported by mentors to see how the integration of smart newcomers could be boosted through innovation. They developed with their team ‘Biosphere Babies’ , a game for body & mind to spend time on the journey to Mars.
What do you think, why are so many people around the world joining this community?
The first question
We might not know now what the future will be like, but it seems that the solution is to live with the community and learn from it. Step by step, need by need. Starting from the idea creation such as NASA Space Apps Challenge all the way to the financing of the fast deployment of solutions on the market with new financial mechanisms. But let’s leave the spread of community accelerators for the next time.
For this time, the first question – Do you still digitise or are you already digitalising?___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Dr. Urska Starc-Peceny has more than 20 years experience in strategy and communication of the innovation & the New. Co-funder of more companies in Europe and Middle East she is currently active also as coordinator of NASA Space Apps Challenge Vienna and in charge for Community & Communication in its CEE Network ; initiator of FLAPAX Smart Community Accelerator for Alps, Danube, Mediterranean & Balkans and co-founder of Seensy, the new generation of energy efficiency management.