Approach One: Words and Hashtags
The algorithms of social media platforms are designed to assist users in finding information. Utilizing technology is key for us as solution mappers and we need to continuously adapt to changing circumstances. Amid the pandemic, for four months, the virtual field was our main access to the community. Every day, I observe the trending words (hashtags) and link the dots as they relate to the Accelerator Lab to build understanding of what is going on in the community. Within this virtual mapping process of using the Systems Thinking approach, I mapped seven local solutions that respond to the pandemic; Corona in Iraq Platform (was scaled up and handed over to the government), 3D printing face shields, PET face shield, sterilization gate, ventilation device by academia, ventilation device by Ministry of Industry and Minerals (under exploration phase), and medical clinic at home platform.
Approach Two: Community Service Team (CST)
The term “local solutions” was mentioned during the initial training of our community service volunteer team, which has become our eyes in the community since it includes community activists from different areas of Iraq. The term “local solution” became an action, and our Community Service Team helped us map five local solutions that respond to the pandemic by using the same concept of the power of words in the virtual world; portable ventilation device, remotely controlled robot for medical services, IQdonate platform for cured blood plasma donation, interactive soap for children, and automatic hand washing machine.
Approach Three: UNDP Country Office
To reflect our solution-mapping mechanism in existing UNDP projects, we made sure to engage the country office in the Accelerator Lab work through our flowing words to achieve an impact inside UNDP Iraq’s Country Office (CO), update them about our progress, and provide support when needed because we are part of them.
One key advantage of working alongside the Country Office is the willingness of our co-workers to identify and propose four local solutions in response to COVID-19 consisting of 3D face mask strap, ventilation device by University of Basra, hand sanitizers by University of Karbala, and smart and green cameras.
In conclusion, the Accelerator Lab team achieved transforming the power of words into new signals of change that are reflected on the stakeholders' way of work. Now more than ever, open online discussions addressing everyday challenges the country faces amid the spread of the coronavirus are becoming the government's main decision-making stream. This change is partly influenced by the Accelerator Lab’s discussions on adopting the mentioned local solutions and building partnerships around them with the government and relevant stakeholders. Published words and hashtags became our virtual solutions safari methodology to map the local solutions for the development challenges. We observed that when we highlight the work of innovators on social media channels that contributed to the emergence of a new innovation pattern that influences other innovators’ way of work. Speaking of the new emerging patterns, the Accelerator Lab influenced faster evolving innovation patterns in the UNDP country office which are working to better tailor their projects to community needs.
Eventually, we achieved mapping 16 local solutions for the country development challenges by harnessing the power of words and communication patterns. Next is to use the power of visuals to map the next version of local solutions.