FBI to launch ideation site in spring

Latest ideation application: FBI HQ relocation

As GSA begins its search for a developer to build a new headquarters for the FBI, staff at the investigative agency will be able to contribute to the discussions via an online community ideation tool.  Work installing the tool is expected to start late February, with the community being hosted from March through May 2015.

While in the past tools for brainstorming and sharing new ideas may have meant a whiteboard and sticky notes, tools and processes in the connected enterprise the go beyond that to include intranet forums and applications, web-based collaboration tools, surveys, social media sites and detailed action steps and feasibility studies. Organizations also use behavioral science methods, software algorithms and game mechanics to encourage participation and collaboration.

The FBI is seeking an ideation tool that lets users add ideas that can be commented on and rated by other users, and includes challenges and incentives to encourage participation as well as advanced analytical capabilities. The vendor-hosted site needs to support Internet Explorer 9. It must be capable of being installed on a classified network and support 200 concurrent users.

At the end of the idea-generating period, the FBI wants to be able to export all the data and have it deleted from the vendor site.

Ideation tools

One web-based tool open to use by all is IdeaBox, created by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFBP). The IdeaBox open source code is available on Github.

Idea-Box is a django app for surfacing and collecting ideas from users in a minimal, easily integratable interface. Features include submitting, tagging, commenting and voting on ideas. Ideas are listed by trending, “likes” and can be archived or hidden. Users can also create custom challenges for specific idea generation campaigns. Idea-Box also takes a strong stance on transparency, according to the GitHub page, so that ideas, votes, etc. are tied to specific users.

IdeaBox, created for internal use by CFPB, allows for submitting both general ideas  as well as ideas submitted in response to a particular request. The ideas are reviewed, routed and scored, further refined if necessary, and presented to leaders. Idea contributors are notified of comments and are involved in the project. Cross-functional teams can further refine the idea to pitch to decision-makers.

Ideation tools have been successfully used at many agencies.

The Transportation Security Agency’s IdeaFactory has provided a venue for ideas that have saved money, improved security and training, and enhanced employee morale.

The Department of Transportation’s agencywide IdeaHub allows each of DOT’s 10 operating administrations to pursue projects that are important to their employees and  facilitate  discussion around ideas that affect the entire department.

And in Austin, Texas, a website dedicated to community idea sharing, SpeakUpAustin, is powered by Granicus’ social ideation platform.

Online ideation tools are the latest iteration of using web-based technology for collaboration. The National Cancer Institute’s National Cancer Informatics Program (NCIP), for example, launched an online forum, NCIP Hub, as part of an effort to help cancer researchers collaborate virtually and access community-generated data, tools, standards and other resources.

 “Our goal is to establish an NCIP Hub that can serve as a ‘marketplace’ that allows cancer researchers to share and access relevant informatics resources; upload, test and develop relevant tools; and share, teach and learn using the platform’s collaboration and learning management capabilities,” noted Ishwar Chandramouliswaran, program manager, NCIP, in his blog announcing the project.

NCIP, like IdeaBox, was built on an open source collaborative platform; in this case, HUBzero. 

GSA’s DigitalGov site offers a list of ideation platforms and tools that notes if the product is on the GSA schedule and if has federal-compatible terms of service.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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