Innovation

Principles

Principles for Innovation and Technology in Development

These principles are not intended as hard and fast rules but meant as best-practice guidelines to inform the design of technology enabled development programs.

1. Design with the User

  • Develop context appropriate solutions informed by user needs.
  • Include all user groups in planning, development, implementation and assessment.
  • Develop projects in an incremental and iterative manner.
  • Design solutions that learn from and enhance existing workflows and plan for organizational adaptation.
  • Ensure solutions are sensitive to, and useful for, the most marginalized populations: women, children, those with disabilities, and those affected by conflict and disaster.

2. Understand the Existing Ecosystem

  • Participate in networks and communities of like-minded practitioners.
  • Align to existing technological, legal, and regulatory policies.

3. Design for Scale

  • Design for scale from the start, and assess and mitigate dependencies that might limit ability to scale.
  • Employ a “systems” approach to design, considering implications of design beyond an immediate project.
  • Be replicable and customizable in other countries and contexts.
  • Demonstrate impact before scaling a solution.
  • Analyze all technology choices through the lens of national and regional scale.
  • Factor in partnerships from the beginning and start early negotiations.

4. Build for Sustainability

  • Plan for sustainability from the start, including planning for long-term financial health i.e., assessing total cost of ownership.
  • Utilize and invest in local communities and developers by default and help catalyze their growth.
  • Engage with local governments to ensure integration into national strategy and identify high-level government advocates.

5. Be Data Driven

  • Design projects so that impact can be measured at discrete milestones with a focus on outcomes rather than outputs.
  • Evaluate innovative solutions and areas where there are gaps in data and evidence.
  • Use real-time information to monitor and inform management decisions at all levels.
  • When possible, leverage data as a by-product of user actions and transactions for assessments.

6. Use Open Standards, Open Data, Open Source, and Open Innovation

  • Adopt and expand existing open standards.
  • Open data and functionalities and expose them in documented APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) where use by a larger community is possible.
  • Invest in software as a public good.
  • Develop software to be open source by default with the code made available in public repositories and supported through developer communities.

7. Reuse and Improve

  • Use, modify and extend existing tools, platforms, and frameworks when possible.
  • Develop in modular ways favoring approaches that are interoperable over those that are monolithic by design.

8. Do no harm

  • Assess and mitigate risks to the security of users and their data.
  • Consider the context and needs for privacy of personally identifiable information when designing solutions and mitigate accordingly.
  • Ensure equity and fairness in co-creation, and protect the best interests of the end end-users.

9. Be Collaborative

  • Engage diverse expertise across disciplines and industries at all stages.
  • Work across sector silos to create coordinated and more holistic approaches.
  • Document work, results, processes and best practices and share them widely.
  • Publish materials under a Creative Commons license by default, with strong rationale if another licensing approach is taken.

UNICEF innovation principles have been endorsed or adopted by the following partners: UNICEF, USAID, Gates Foundation, EOSG Global Pulse, WFP, OCHA, UNDP, SIDA, IKEA Foundation, UN Foundation, and UNHCR.



 

 

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