D.1.1 Domain and Theme Definition (executive summary)

The Open4Citizens project is framed in the broader area of research and applications that explore the potential of phenomena emerging at the intersection between technological development, social innovation and business opportunities.


This deliverable outlines the context for the project and describes its scope.

Section 3 describes the domain of the project.

The increasing computing capability makes it possible to record every single moment of the life of cities, citizens, territories, businesses and public institutions. If we look at the large amount of data being available, we will notice some relevant phenomena. On the input side the large amount of automatically generated data is coming from various kinds of sensors, as well as more subjective data coming from public authorities and individuals, who communicate through social networking. On the output side there is an increased capability to elaborate the data into meaningful application and an increased awareness of the potential this data is offering.

While several business companies are quickly finding their way to exploit this potential, the public perception of the new perspective is quite low in the public sector and among citizens.

The availability of such a rich new resource is necessary to trigger public and social innovation mechanisms, but this is not a sufficient condition, if the potential users of this resource cannot imagine meaningful uses of it.

This project will work on bridging the gap between the innovation potential of open data and the citizens’ capability to use this resource. This gap is the general logical framework for the project.

The project will be organised on two cycles of hackathons that will involve citizens, interest groups, public authorities, IT experts and local businesses. The hackathon, and the preparation work to define the themes, will explore the existing datasets, with the aim of generating service solutions, not just applications that will address specific citizens’ need.

The illustration of the project’s context in section 3 also includes an overview of relevant EU projects in this area, part of which have been developed by some of the members of the Open4Citizen consortium.

Section 3 also defines the scope of the project, which can be articulated in four main thematic areas:

  1. Involving citizens
  2. Designing solutions, rather than simple applications
  3. Exploring existing and potential datasets
  4. Creating new knowledge, thus increasing public awareness, on the potential of open data.


In section 4 the themes of the first hackathon cycle are described, including the criteria for selecting relevant actors to involve to the hackathons.

In Denmark the first hackathon will focus on migrants and will involve local citizens’ communities that are now operating to support migrants integration and asylum seekers, public authorities, small companies and groups that are actively exploring open data, and, of course, migrants and asylum seekers.

The Italian team will focuses on transparency in urban transformations and construction yards activated by the public authority. Major public works are raising the interest of ordinary citizens as well as professional groups, who would like to have a better view about the status of each project. This is not always possible, because of the complexity of related bureaucratic processes and a long-standing tradition of “reluctance to openness” of public administration towards citizens. The Italian pilot will gather interest groups, public authorities, citizens and other relevant stakeholders.


The theme of the hackathon in Spain, “How can the citizens use open data to design services that cover their needs?” will be articulated along three subthemes: urban services, local culture and healthcare. The idea is not to restrict the focus to one of the subthemes but to explore the possibilities for cross fertilisation among them.


The nature of the organization – Experio Lab – that will lead the Swedish pilot is indeed part of the regional authority, which is coordinating innovation policies in the healthcare sector. This position will also make it easier to gather all the relevant stakeholders for the hackathon. Here, too, the main theme of healthcare will be articulated in three subthemes: Healthcare, Self-care and Wellness


Finally the first cycle of hackathons in The Netherlands will also focus on urban development and more specifically on participatory governance and involvement of citizens in planning and organising public parks. The hackathon in Rotterdam will be framed in a series of (connected) citizens’ initiatives to keep public parks and green areas and facilitate a variety of grassroot needs of local communities through better use of these areas.


Although diverse, the themes of the hackathons have common traits and present concrete challenges, regarding the involvement of public authorities, the effective engagement of citizens in dealing with complex technical tasks, the motivation and participation of technical experts and local business.


Section 5 highlights differences and similarities between the hackathons in the 5 pilots’ location. Besides the obvious characteristic of involving citizens in the hackathons, some common questions emerge, that will be clarified in the organisation of the hackathon in the hackathon event. The questions concern the involvement of public authorities, the collaboration between people with different skills, the long term involvement of technical people in the development of the results of the hackathons, the involvement of start-ups that will possibly bring the result of the hackathon to an operative level, and the capability of this form of collaboration to address the complexity of the problems.


Those questions are central in making sure that the results of the hackathon will “bridge the gap” between the potential of open data and their actual usability. They are also contributing to define the knowledge for the OpenDataLabs, which are going to support citizens’ participation in the definition of new solutions based on the use of open data.


The full text of the deliverable will be available after its approval.