Hackathon as a Method: Social Innovation and Inclusion in the Social Sector
**This document is an automatic translation of a proposal submitted for a collaboration program at the Bern University of Applied Sciences - if it goes through we will start an interdepartamental project next year along these lines. The fruit of our efforts will hopefully be of use to the wider community, in the form of practical deliverables like quantitative research results and improved platforms, as well as fertile ground for broader collaboration. If you have any questions, please contact [Nada Endrissat](mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org) and [Oleg Lavrovsky](mailto:email@example.com).**
The project investigates the potential of hackathons for the development of social innovations using data and challenges in the social sector as examples. At the same time, the suitability of hackathons for the participation of broad sections of the population will be examined. A "mixed-method approach" is used: In addition to qualitative data, App-based, quantitative follow-up data is collected from participants. The results should lead to good practices for hackathons.
## 1. Starting point and problem statement
In the course of digital transformation, new opportunities for innovation development arise. Besides online communities and knowledge platforms[6,7] the potential of hackathons is increasingly pointed out[1,4,9,11,12]. These are code and data sharing events at which experts from different disciplines work together on solutions for a very limited period of time[2,3,9,10].
Two aspects deserve special attention:
1. While data-based innovations are already very widespread in the private sector (e.g. consumer preferences), data sets from the social sector (e.g. employment, poverty) have hardly been used to date, even though the challenges in these areas are particularly pressing. This results in the chance to promote the development of social innovations through hackathons[14,15,18,19].
2. Hackathons are characterized by open organizational boundaries and non-hierarchical structures. They are therefore considered inclusive and democratic. At the same time, it is critically noted in the literature[3,9] that Hackathons have so far been dominated by a certain group of participants, which tends to be male, white and technically inclined.
The composition of participants in hackathons inevitably has an impact on the type of innovation. In questions of social relevance, it is therefore essential to understand the possibilities of including relevant stakeholder groups.
## 2. Project objectives
The project deals with the digital transformation of social innovation processes through hackathons.
The project goal is to develop good practices for the professionalization of hackathons as a method. On the basis of good practices, hackathons are to be used in future as an innovation tool in the social sector.
The effect of this is,
- a) to generate more social innovations with social relevance on the basis of available data,
- b) Effective involvement of broad sections of the population or marginalised groups in socially relevant issues,
- c) to develop sustainable solutions to social challenges.
To achieve this, the following activities are planned (for details see work packages under item 6):
1. The project investigates the possibilities of hackathons for the development of social innovations with data from the social system
2. The project explores possibilities for the inclusion of stakeholders relevant to the problem.
## 3. Adherence to topic "Digital Transformation"
Hackathon as an innovation method in social work:
- The output of the project promotes the establishment of the Hackathon method in the social sector and thus the digitisation of the innovation process in this area.
- The use of big data in social services offers the opportunity to develop solutions for socially relevant issues. For example in the areas of health, employment, poverty[14,15,18,21].
Hackathons as Citizen Science method:
- Due to the open organisational boundaries and non-hierarchical organisational structures, hackathons enable not only technical expertise but also the knowledge and experience of non-scientists in the sense of Citizen Science to be integrated.
Hackathons are therefore a method to involve relevant stakeholders (affected persons) in solving current and future problems. This represents a socially relevant form of participation in the digital transformation of society.
## 4. Interdepartmental cooperation
With Hackathons, the project addresses an important phenomenon of digital transformation, which is the focus of research at the Institute of Corporate Development (W). Furthermore, hackathons offer the opportunity to explore new forms of work and organization, which are the focus of the research area New Work Environments, which is also affiliated to the Institute of Corporate Development (W). With the questions of inclusion and data-driven social innovations, the project takes up two central research topics of the Department of Social Work and the E-Government Institute (W). In particular, it will also promote cooperation between the BFH centres Digital Society and Social Security in the field of Big & Open Data.
The results of the project enable two follow-up applications (1st Innosuisse and 2nd SNSF), which will ensure the closer cooperation between the departments outlined above in the medium term.
Furthermore, the project offers the opportunity to position itself as a practical partner for the implementation of hackathons in the public/social sector and thus to open up a broader market, which until now has only been considered sporadically. The opportunities for this lie both in further training and in services.
## 5. Follow-up activities
The defined Good Practices serve as a basis for the development of a Hackathon Tool Box, which is to be further developed and tested within the framework of an Innosuisse follow-up application with practice and implementation partners (see declaration of intent in the appendix). The aim is to establish hackathons as a) an innovation method in the social sector and b) a method for the inclusion of citizens science.
The findings on the possibilities of social participation are to be incorporated into an SNSF application to be submitted in 2019 as part of the SNSF NRP Call for the Digitisation of the Economy. The aim is to bring questions of participation into the context of new forms of organisation and to explore ways of mobilising relevant stakeholders.
The BFH-W will host "Bern häckt" for the second time in 2018. The project is also part of the Department's ongoing activities in the research foci _Digital Transformation_ and _New Worlds_ (e.g. co-working spaces as new forms of organization in the context of digitization), and the BFH Center _Digital Society_ (e.g. conducting Wikidata workshops on behalf of the Swiss National Library\[16\]).
At the BFH-Centre for _Social Security_ there is a connection to the proposed project due to the overlapping of content on the topic of inclusion in the context of technological developments (e.g. opportunities and risks for people with disabilities in the context of technological development).
## 6. Comments and partnerships
Within the scope of the project a cooperation with Oleg Lavrovsky, guest lecturer at the Department of Technology and Computer Science (TI) of the BFH and independent computer science engineer (Datalets.ch) as well as board member of the association Opendata.ch is aimed for. Oleg Lavrovsky has extensive experience in the implementation of hackathons[18,19,20] and has built plaforms already used to collect follow-up data from Hackathon participants to evaluate the event.
The cooperation with Datalets and Opendata.ch is to be intensified in the follow-up activities. Specifically, a joint project submission to Innosuisse is planned. In this case, Datalets and Opendata.ch would be available as development and implementation partners.
A written letter of intent is attached to this application.
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