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Open Innovation Playbook for Risk Homepage

NOTE: The following proposal was submitted but was revised and ultimately had to be adapted given the travel restrictions due to COVID-19.

Abstract

USGS has a long history of risk projects that engage the public to enhance science, a method often referred to as “citizen science.” There is a broad spectrum of public engagement and community-based research (e.g., citizen science, crowdsourcing, and prize competitions). “Open Innovation” (OI) has recently become an umbrella term to reference these participatory methods. Such methods are ways to meaningfully engage communities at risk and transform users of risk products into vital contributors. However, the lack of bureau-wide guidance, resources, and policy on OI has led to ad hoc efforts giving rise to concerns and misconceptions about data quality and validity that need to be addressed and dispelled. A comprehensive strategy is needed to provide practical and consistent guidance to direct USGS scientists, managers, and leadership on how to use and evaluate OI methods effectively while meeting USGS science needs. A USGS Open Innovation Strategy is currently being developed that will result in USGS-specific Guidance and Policy as well as a Toolkit and Catalog of USGS OI activities. Supplementary to this strategy, our proposed project will focus on surveying past and potential OI risk projects by engaging USGS representatives from various mission areas, regions, and science support offices. Ethnographic research methods and user-centered design techniques will be employed to co-design and co-produce an OI Playbook for Risk. The goal is to build institutional capacity for using OI methods through bureau-wide engagement that will ultimately increase awareness and effective use of OI methods for future USGS risk research and applications.

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The project outcomes are: (1) a catalog of past and potential USGS open innovation projects related to risk; (2) three case studies of OI projects related to earthquakes, climate change, and floods that will also be summarized through graphical and video products; and (3) a USGS Open Innovation Playbook for Risk that packages together the catalog, case studies, and multimedia products, which will be targeted towards the Risk Community of Practice and inform future Risk RFPs. Content and key insights from the Playbook will directly inform and be integrated into the broader USGS guidance and policy on open innovation.

Project Team

Name

Affiliation

Role in Project

Sophia B Liu

USGS, NE Region, Science and Decisions Center, Innovation Specialist

Lead PI

David Govoni

USGS, Office of Enterprise Information, Physical Scientist, Emeritus

Co-PI

Pierre Glynn

USGS, Water MA, Water Cycle Branch, Branch Chief

Co-PI

Sheree Watson

USGS, OSQI, Youth in Education in Science, AAAS Fellow

Co-PI, Advisor on EQ & Climate Change

David Wald

USGS, Rocky Mt Region, National Earthquake Info Center, Seismologist

Advisor on Earthquake (EQ) Case Study

Ryan Toohey

USGS, Land MA, Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center, Hydrologist

Advisor on Climate Change Case Study

Nicole H-Mercer

USGS, Water MA, Decision Support Branch, Social Scientist

Advisor on Climate Change Case Study

Karen Ryberg

USGS, Midcontinent Region, Dakota Water Science Center, Statistician

Advisor on Flood Case Study

Robert Mason

USGS, Water MA, Extreme Hydrologic Events Coordinator

Advisor on Flood Case Study

Statement of Problem

USGS has a long history of projects that engage the public to enhance risk research and applications using a method that is often referred to as “citizen science.” For example, the inclusion of public felt reports of earthquakes first appeared in the appendix of a USGS report (Dutton 1889), then through postcards starting in 1926, which eventually led to the development of the Did You Feel It? online questionnaire in 1999. There is a broad spectrum of public engagement and community-based research methods (e.g., citizen science, crowdsourcing, and prize competitions). “Open Innovation” (OI) has recently become an umbrella term to reference these participatory methods (GAO 2016, 2017). Such methods are ways to meaningfully engage communities at risk and transform users of risk products into vital contributors. Open innovation methods have become 21st century engagement techniques that can enable economies of scale and be a force multiplier for conducting smart science to tackle scientific challenges, enable meaningful and democratic engagement with users, and foster scientific literacy that can increase public understanding of risks (NASEM 2018; Nielson 2011; OSTP 2015, 2019; Robinson et al. 2018). As social media, mobile phones, and low-cost sensors have become more ubiquitous, there is growing interest within USGS to harness these emerging technologies and “leverage social media, citizen science, and crowdsourced observations” (p. 35) to develop potential projects like “Hazards in My Backyard” (p. 44) in response to current and potential disasters (Ludwig et al. 2018).

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