‘Digital social innovations (DSI) are often associated with positive meanings, like openness, collaboration or inclusion, as opposed to more commercially oriented innovations.

‘DSI can thus be defined as novelties that use, develop, or rely on digital technologies to address social and/or environmental problems. They include a broad group of digital platforms which facilitate peer-to-peer interactions and the mobilisation of people in order to solve social and/or environmental problems. Neighbourhood information systems, civic engagement platforms, volunteered geographic information systems, crowdfunding platforms for sustainability or social issues, are some of the cases of the DSI area’ (Ozman, Gossart, 2018).

In this blog we will shine a light on eight remarkable projects relating to DSI.



Plume Labs

Plume Labs was founded in 2014 with the vision of clean air for everyone.

They are working towards making this a reality by creating the smart tools people need to avoid air pollution and stay healthy. They bring together the most advanced hardware, big data and artificial intelligence to make sure people have all the info they need to perfect their daily routine, explore their environment and find clean air wherever they go (Plume Labs, n.d).

Read more about the project here.


New travel accommodation models

Airbnb ‘ … could be considered a digital social innovation. It relies on a digital platform through which a traveller can find cheaper accommodations while possibly discovering local people and lifestyles. Besides avoiding the anonymity of hotels, tailored services are now offered to clients of the platform. Airbnb enables (some) people to earn extra income.

‘While Airbnb customers might enjoy the wide range of offers available on the platform as well as local cultural highlights sold in a two-hour pack, an unknown and ignored local culture lies on the poor side of the digital (and economic) divide’ (Ozman, Gossart, 2018).

For those having objections to the Airbnb as example of social innovation in its purest form, an alternative model is proposed by Fairbnb, promised to create ‘A smart and fair solution for community-powered tourism’.



Fairphone represents the complex story of the hundreds of people who helped make it. They want to open up that story so they can make a positive impact on how phones are made, used and recycled. They aim to create a positive social and environmental impact from the beginning to the end of a phone’s life cycle (long-lasting designfair materialsgood working conditions, reuse and recycling). They care about what they are putting into our phones. That’s why they are tracing where our phones’ parts come from and creating demand for materials that are good for both people and the planet (Fairphone, n.d.).

Read more about the project here.



Opendesk is an online marketplace that hosts independently designed furniture and connects its customers to local makers around the world. Rather than mass manufacturing and shipping worldwide, they are building a distributed and ethical supply chain through a global network of makers (Opendesk, n.d.).

Read more about the project here.



Digi.me and Personal (which merged in 2017) have been widely recognised since 2009 for pioneering user control over data while enhancing privacy. They are fundamentally shifting power to individuals by making it easy for them to get, see and share their own data – what they call the Internet of Me (Digi.me, n.d.).

Read more about the project here.


Open Knowledge International

Open Knowledge International is a global non-profit organisation focused on realising the value of open data to society by helping civil society groups access and use data to take action on social problems. Open Knowledge International does this in three ways:

1.) They show the value of open data for the work of civil society organisations
2.) They provide organisations with the tools and skills to effectively use open data
3.) They make government information systems responsive to civil society

Open Knowledge International is a worldwide network of people who are passionate about openness, using advocacy, technology and training to unlock information and enabling people to work with it to create and share knowledge (Open Knowledge International, n.d.).

Read more about the project here.


Fab Foundation

Fab Foundation was formed to facilitate and support the growth of the international fab lab network as well as the development of regional capacity-building organisations. The Fab Foundation is a US non-profit organisation. Their mission is to provide access to the tools, knowledge and financial means to educate, innovate and invent using technology and digital fabrication to allow anyone to make (almost) anything, and thereby creating opportunities to improve lives and livelihoods around the world. Community organisations, educational institutions and non-profit concerns are their primary beneficiaries.

The Foundation’s programmes focus on: education, organisational capacity building and services, and business opportunity (Fab Foundation, n.d.).

Read more about the project here.



CitizenLab is a civic engagement platform on which citizens co-create their city. Their solution is the medium for municipalities and all types of governments to make decision-making more democratic, more transparent and more collaborative. CitizenLab aims at making tomorrow’s governments more citizen-centric, through user-friendly cloud software, insightful data analytics and a focus on mobile (CitizenLab, n.d.).

Read more about the project here.


Learn more at Social Innovation Academy

Are you familiar with the above digital social innovations? At Social Innovation Academy we are striving to bring social innovation forward. We seek to improve the competencies of teams behind social innovation ideas and initiatives that could have an essential social impact. The Social Innovation Academy will be the first European, fully online management training programme focusing exclusively on social innovation.

Social innovation is increasingly being perceived as the answer to the rising number of European societal challenges. While the European authorities, leading academics, policy experts, business people and activists agree that social innovation is the key to a better future for Europe and the world, it is extremely difficult for professionals to obtain high-quality training on what social innovation actually offers and, more importantly, how it can be done in practice. The Social Innovation Academy is aiming to change this situation in Europe and beyond.

If you are interested in keeping up with this project, you can subscribe to our newsletter, become one of our Friends, apply to join our Global Advisory Board or follow us on social media (LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook). We welcome all requests for collaboration here.




Digi.me (n. d.). Our mission – a world where data is controlled by people for their own benefit. Retrieved from: https://digi.me/ 

CitizenLab (n.d.). Introducing local democracies fort he digital age. Retrieved from: https://www.citizenlab.co/about 

Fab Foundation (n. d.). Retrieved from: http://www.fabfoundation.org/index.php/about-fab-foundation/index.html 

Fairphone (n. d.). Retrieved from: https://www.fairphone.com/en/our-goals/?ref=header 

Opendesk (n. d.). Retrieved from: https://www.opendesk.cc/ 

Open Knowledge International (n. d.). Retrieved from: https://okfn.org/about/ 

Ozman, Gossart (2018, July 6). What are digital social innovations? [Article]. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/what-are-digital-social-innovations-79066 

Plume Labs (n. d.). Clean air, together. Retrieved from: https://plumelabs.com/en/work 


The European Commission support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents which reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsi­ble for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.


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