GPS and Societal Platforms: Enabling exponential change

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From ensuring that we do not get lost on roads to helping us have our favourite food delivered on time, it is hard to imagine our daily lives without GPS. While navigation and food delivery may seem like good enough uses of this space program, its benefits go way beyond. 

As an open public good, GPS has enabled several innovations over the years.  Location tracking, supply chain management, life-saving applications GPS has become essential to nearly everything we do today. It has become a true Public Infrastructure

So how does GPS provide precise, real-time information about a user's location or movement at such a massive scale? Click To Tweet

At its core, GPS allows every GPS-enabled device to calculate its location on the globe using tri-lateration, a process of determining a position by knowing the distance from at least three known points. These three points are important to create an accurate picture of “Where am I?”

Its ability to do this one thing really well has enabled it to not only work at scale but also provide relevant context to its user.

Interestingly, a Societal Platform is similar. A well-designed Societal Platform:

  • Attempts to bring together three key actors (Governments, Civil Society and Market) to create value for its users
  • Requires three layers with an increasing level of context to create exponential impact
    • A Shared Enabling Infrastructure that makes available context-independent components such as knowledge, process, software, connections and data.
    • Solution Co-creation Environment that enables collaborative workspaces for different actors to create contextual solutions.
    • A Network Amplification layer that catalyses networks to facilitate adoption of solutions at scale.
  • A good societal platform does one thing well: it restores the agency of the community. To do so it needs the three actors and three layers to work together.

Like GPS, Societal Platforms have the power to create massive exponential change. By bringing together governments, civil society, and the market, societal platforms can help address some of the most pressing challenges facing our world today and problems we will face tomorrow.

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