BCN Ciutat Digital

We explain the DSISCALE project

The DSISCALE project aims to support policy makers, funders and, most importantly, practitioners to scale digital social innovation (DSI) and collective awareness platforms (CAPs) in Europe and to make the most of the opportunities in using tools such as open data and open hardware to address some of Europe’s biggest social challenges. Building on existing support initiatives such as, it will do this by developing Europe wide innovation clusters focusing on collaboration and peer learning between funders, policy makers and practitioners on methods for scaling DSI, developing the DSI index for measuring macro system conditions for DSI and a series of ‘DSI futures’. The latter will explore future scenarios for DSI in Europe and map the emerging digital technologies that are facilitating new forms of digital social innovation. Specifically, DSISCALE will:

  • Create and facilitate an online community hub for DSI in Europe by continuing the work of
  • Develop an index for measuring capacity for DSI
  • Facilitate European DSI clusters that enable practitioners, policy makers and DSI to collaborate and share learning, also to map current and emerging trends in DSI
  • Set learning and policy recommendations.

These key DSISCALE objectives will be achieved by bringing together resources and knowledge across different fields, technologies and disciplines, including ICT and social sciences, digital democracy the maker movement and innovation policy from across the national and European networks of Nesta, betterplace lab, Waag Society, WeMake, Barcelona Activa, ePaństwo, Fab Lab Barcelona - IAAC and the European Commission.

Up to six clusters have been defined, namely:

  • Migration and integration, headed by betterplace lab
  • Food environment and climate change, headed by Waag Society
  • Health and care, headed by WeMake
  • Skills and learning, headed by Fab Foundation
  • Digital democracy, headed by ePaństwo Foundation
  • Cities and urban development, headed by Barcelona Activa

Barcelona City Council, through Barcelona Activa, is leading the cluster on cities and urban development. This cluster tackles the increasingly complex challenges due to social changes, technological innovation and the lack of resources faced by cities.


The cluster headed by Barcelona Activa: Cities and urban development


Already responsible for 75 per cent of the world’s CO2 emissions, 27 urban populations are predicted to continue growing and make up 70 per cent of the global population by 2050. Cities are therefore obliged to do more with less, and because of this, the role of governments must necessarily change. Some pioneering cities have begun addressing this challenge by searching for solutions to configure their services and help solve the real challenges of citizens, cities and their governments through policy strategies for:

  • Promoting the 4.0 industry and reindustrialization initiatives.
  • Promoting KM0 strategies
  • Sustainability: recycling and upcycling
  • Empowering local production of high added value
  • Supporting small-scale interventions
  • Circular and collaborative economies
  • Encouraging public - private partnerships
  • Promoting civic engagement and civic participation
  • Anti-gentrification policies
  • Improving public spaces (Superblocks)
  • Data and IT infrastructure sovereignty

Promotion, deployment and cross-coordination within city districts are key elements in current urban development strategies. Barcelona City Council has first-hand experience of working within a network of cultural manufacturing centres through its work with Fab Athenaeums, a bottom-up strategic project for public participation, based on the precepts of social innovation and the social, solidarity and cooperative economy (ECSS).

Integrating DSI within cities moves us towards an open, equitable, democratic and circular city model. This will not only promote the development of the local economy, but also bring great social benefits.

Activities for the cities and urban development cluster will include:

  • Mapping, enhancing and activating the DSI community: By giving visibility to projects through mapping, events and organisational activities, the cluster will enhance and revitalise the DSI community within cities.
  • Promoting DSI as a new local economy: The cluster will support, expand and scale the DSI ecosystem by launching rounds of funding and by bringing together social entrepreneurs, hackers, communities and academics working on DSI. This will help communities to share data, collaborate to solve societal problems, and to scale their initiatives. City pilot schemes such as Barcelona’s maker district and other studies on the economic impact of DSI will provide information for the development and discussion of sustainable business models. The cluster will facilitate the bringing together of practitioners from a diverse range of fields, such as the maker movement, the collaborative economy, open democracy, digital rights and more.
  • Citizen empowerment and training: The cluster will facilitate co-creation processes for public policies with socio economic agents and collective awareness action, spreading knowledge about people’s digital rights and duties, open democracy and social digital inclusion.
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