Collective intelligence (CI) can, at its simplest, be understood as the enhanced capacity that is created when people work together, often with the help of technology, to mobilise a wider range of information, ideas and insights. This report explores the role that open digital infrastructures such as open data, hardware, content and software play in the development of collective intelligence projects.

The digital commons, including thousands of standards and tools for open hardware, data, software and content, play a vital role in the development of many of the world's most impactful collective intelligence projects. Yet, in spite of this little funding and support is provided to maintain and further develop this infrastructure.

This report explores the benefits of investing in the development of the collective intelligence commons – the open infrastructure for developing and scaling collective intelligence projects and how funders could do this.

The research identifies six benefits of designing CI in the digital commons:

  1. Expands the reach and impact of CI through open and interoperable data and software.
  2. Enables successful CI projects to scale more quickly through adapting innovations to new contexts and need.
  3. Lowers cost and increases sustainability.
  4. Enables more sustainable and trustworthy CI projects.
  5. Democratises innovation, making it more inclusive and helping to shift power through diverse and locally led CI projects.
  6. Empowering communities with tools, data and knowledge to hold those in power to account.


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