Focal Point Café – March 5th, 2020
Last week DCHI launched the very first Focal Point Café, co-organised with our board member the Municipality of the Hague. The broad theme of the session was Collaborative Innovation, which was explored through the presentation of two case studies on the use of Data, by representatives from the Asser Institute and The Hague Centre for Strategic Studies (HCSS), alongside an interactive workshop by Butterfly Works.
“The world is changing very rapidly, and we need new answers to the new problems that this is bringing. Innovation through collaboration, is the most important part of finding new perspectives for these answers. Innovation is all about going beyond your own silo, to listen to people who do different things and to let that inspire you. This is exactly what today is all about”. Wim Jansen, Director of International Affairs at the Municipality of the Hague and board member of DCHI, kicked off the session with these inspiring words. The opening speech framed the session perfectly, as it set the stage for the two project presentations that come from outside the humanitarian sector, and the interactive workshop on co-creation.
Rebecca Mignot-Mahdavi from the Asser Institute presented her Mobile App project, which will reach out to citizens on the use of big data in governmental counter-terrorism practices. She explained that collaboration between different parts of society is essential, with the main purpose of the project being to build a bridge between the state and its citizens for safer societies. Rebecca was very open about the preliminary stages of the project, and used the platform of the event to gather input from our participants: “I didn’t expect there would be so much enthusiasm around engaging with the projects, so I was really pleasantly surprised at the energy in the room. For me, this was a perfect platform to gain contributions from people with very different backgrounds to help shape the project, so I found it very interesting and helpful”.
The second project presentation was done by Paul Verhagen from HCSS, on his fascinating platform ‘Agrifood’, which measures Dutch interests through trade, development aid, and infrastructure. The platform’s primary aim is to improve approaches to problem-solving, through the creation of a database were policymakers can quickly and thoroughly ask concrete and specific questions based on data driven insights. Paul emphasised that too often, lacking clarity in problem identification makes any collaborative effort wasteful, with his advice being to “always keeping your end-user in mind. With the software I have created, I now am not claiming to necessarily have an answer but at least we now have a specific question, which is equally if not more important”.
The interactive workshop hosted by Butterfly Works dove into the value of co-creation through using the different perspectives at the table to its full potential. Their session got our participants to group together with those they didn’t know, and come up with speedy innovations on themes ranging from food security to surveillance and big data. Each innovation was then pitched to the whole group through a lego prototype. Cédric Ceulemans, the lead facilitator, explained that using a fun and unexpected medium like lego, allows participants “to be energetic and play whilst achieving a lot of really interesting things. We purposefully create a safe-space in our workshops where participants feel that they can relax, but also to say that it’s ok to have fun, it’s ok to try things out and it’s ok to make mistakes”. When reflecting on the day Cedric emphasised the collaborative value of the event: “I truly believe in a coalition like this, and bringing different circles together. We do have a lot to learn from each other and a lot to collaborate to each others work, so I think there should be more opportunities or platforms that allow this kind of exchange”.
Many thanks to both our speakers for their inspiring project presentations, and to Butterfly Works for their highly creative and engaging session. We were very happy to see lots of new and familiar faces attending the event, and hope to see you all again soon!
We’re already busy planning the next Focal Point Café with UNICEF, which will take place on the 22nd of April so save the date! Have you got any questions or inputs for this event and our future sessions? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
DCHI is very excited to announce that we will be hosting regular Focal Point Café meetings in 2020 as our newest networking opportunity within the Humanitarian Innovation Sector! We will host regular meet-ups that will offer the perfect opportunity to network in a casual-setting, whilst having the opportunity to hear about humanitarian innovation cases and relevant themes, as well as exploring best practices and lessons learnt from various organisations.