Many of today's social "challenges" have a department, agency, or other organization devoted solely to tackling the issue. This has had a limited track record of success due to a number of reasons, including myopic thinking, only having the "usual suspects" of stakeholders at the table, and large and slow moving bureaucracies.
My proposal is to harness the collective brainpower of all Canadians to help solve some of these social challenges through the issuance of Grand Challenges similiar to the challenges issued by the U.S. Government's Challenge.gov website. By having a Government of Canada website that publishes a list of challenges: i.e. how to solve homelessness for veterans, how to increase affordable housing, how to issue microloans to Canadians, how to increase the birth rate in Canada, etc... and asking Canadians to submit solutions to them is a low-cost and innovative way to reach a much broader audience who may not even know about some of the social challenges in Canada.
Benefits of having a Grand Challenges website:
- Government and/or non-government organizations may submit challenges to the general public
- Can have sponsors (The Alzheimer's society may sponsor a challenge that tries to develop new innovative ways to reverse dementia) for some of the challenges and could potentially offer prizes (monetary, recognition, contract)
- The first step in solving a problem is identifying the problem. Not all Canadians are aware of the pressing social challenges of the day. Having a central website will allow more innovative ideas to germinate as Canadians with different perspectives have an opportunity to share their knowledge.
- Once you have a list of plausible solutions to a challenge, then publish these potential solutions and have Canadians comment on them, add to them, in an iterative process etc...Think of it like a "Wikipedia of Ideas" where the best solutions are based on a foundation of previous ideas.
The new solutions that will be developed will ultimately benefit all Canadians. Challenges stimulate markets and create industries, build communities of citizen scientists and change people’s lives.