When talking about web 2.0 for government, most of the example I bring are from UK and US. So the question often come: can web 2 work in the rest of Europe? Is it a spontaneous bottom-up phenomenon, or can it be cultivated?

I can say YES, you can cultivate a government 2.0 approach also in countries where there is not a consolidated spontaneous movement.

I have the chance to have an innovative client as IBBT , which enthusiastically launched the INCA awards, on the blueprint of the appsfordemocracy contest. We were worried though: we chose to have many prizes, 10, and we were not sure we would have enough applications.

How wrong were we. The INCA award received 35 working, brand new applications to solve collective problems. They range from social babysitting to traffic management to culture to environment. Developers were enthusiastic about the idea, and the winners told me how they loved the process even more that the prize in itself. Lots of energy was created and I would like to THANK all proposers.

This shows Flanders is full of creative and socially sensitive people. Congrats.

I believe INCA can be an important milestone in the EU policy debate, in different senses.

For research policy, INCA was original in the sense that is used a prize-based competition, which have the following advantages:
–    rewarding the actual results rather than the beautifully written proposal.
–    Applications were developed on purpose, not already existing. This created excitement and inspiration because of feeling of synchronicity
–    It was open to any idea, rather than rigidly predicting the needs. It’s user-led innovation in its extreme form
–    It was able to reach out to a totally new audience, not traditionally engaged in research projects, showing the open and serendipitous nature of innovation.

For ICT policy, INCA clearly demonstrated ICT applications play an important role for solving the everyday life of citizens. INCA applications are not about fancy technology, but solving real everyday problems and create “social capital”, and they are directly produced by networked citizens.
INCA showed that “public services 2.0” is not only for the US/UK and it can be proactively stimulated also in continental Europe by suitable policies.

The ROI of INCA is quite unbelievable. With a prize of 20K Euros it generated 35 useful applications in one month. Compare this with traditional e-government project, and today’s paradox is clear.

More importantly, the INCA served as inspiration for developers to work for solving social problems, rather than going for commercial applications. It is an example of a policy that made a difference, as it generated a positive feedback loop and a learning mechanism. It also shows to politicians what citizens are capable of.

Unfortunately the jury had to select some winners, and therefore most submissions did not receive all the recognition they deserve. For this reason, I will blog in the next posts about my favorite applications between the non-winners, as I feel there were really interesting projects there as well.