Coconuts and good ideas

A good idea is like a coconut. We know that something refreshing, even energising lies inside. Yet a coconut without tools to open it is, for all intents and purposes, quite useless.

At a recent Social Innovation Camp in Dilijan, Armenia we spent two and half days cracking into four ideas using an array of peculiar tools – graphic designers, web designers, mobile app developers, web developers, and a range of experts in everything from disaster risk reduction to crowd funding. 

For the uninitiated: a Social Innovation Camp brings together people, ideas and digital tools in to create web-based social innovations – from software to business models – all in just a weekend. Originally created by the fine people at Social Innovation Camp, it has now gone global and been implemented in 16 countries across 4 continents.

Previously we’ve held camps that didn’t focus on any particular issue, as well as thematic camps focusing on human rights and anti-corruption.

This time out our participants gathered to pool their wits on an even more specific issue – climate change early warning systems.

Why climate change?

Changes to temperature and precipitation over the next hundred years are likely to have far-reaching effects on many aspects of social and economic life in Armenia. Like many countries, Armenia’s poor – and especially rural poor - will be particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

These camps give the agenda to the citizen and in doing so open the field to a more creative array of ideas. At the same time the process of a social innovation camp is fundamentally inclusive, getting beyond the preserve of policymakers and technocrats.

For the issue of climate change, where campaigns have at times struggled to connect global summits to ordinary citizens, this is intensely important.

What was produced?

Over just 48 hours four prototypes were developed:


  • Geodata: GIS and Remote Sensing  - an ambitious idea to create a service ‘maps’ that identify future environmental risks, using Geographic Information Systems and Remote Sensing mechanisms like satellites.
  • Die Another Day – an educational problem-solving game that puts the user in climate change and disaster situations, encouraging them to learn by correcting their course of action across a number of different scenarios.
  • 4Life Information System – an online information portal that provides extensive guidelines on how to act after emergency situations caused by climate change.
  • Armenian Meteo Project (AMP) – a high-density network of sensors that will provide a source of big and open data on a range of environmental indicators (air/soil humidity and temperature, air pressure, noise, light, etc.)


The prototypes were pitched to a high profile panel of judges and after intense deliberation – see #inno4cc for a minute-by-minute account – the winners were declared.

First prize went to AMP and their big data initiative, while the runner-up prize was awarded to Die Another DayBoth prototypes will now enter Kolba’s incubator and receive further investment and support.

Watch the Social Innovation Camp on Climate Change video here.