Rapidly evolving communications, sensing, and mapping technologies have placed the extraordinary power of mass data collection and analysis into the hands of citizens, communities, governments, and businesses.
THE COMMONS LAB: OUR MISSION AND PURPOSE
We provide independent and rigorous analysis of emerging technologies that inform:
The benefits of this work are knowledge and ideas that enhance and improve:
- Collaborative learning
- Problem solving
- Scientific discovery
- Strategic planning
- Environmental protection
- Public health
- Coastal management
- Disaster management
- Climate adaptation
- Sustainable and resilient communities
- Sustainable development
WITH GREAT POWER COMES GREAT RESPONSIBILITY (AND POSSIBILITIES)
Using everyday sensors (e.g., cameras built into mobile phones, home weather stations, and water quality tests), location-aware social networking tools, and other web-based services, citizens can collaboratively identify problems, collect and interpret data, and act on the results. These technologies also are enabling citizen-based science. For example, scientists are incorporating data collected from hundreds of amateur botanists, who use their mobile phones to take and send photographs of plants throughout the year, into their scientific analysis of environmental change.
BEYOND ADVOCACY, TOWARD A BETTER FUTURE
We are not an advocate either for, or against, specific technological platforms. We seek to ensure that as these technologies are developed and deployed, the benefits are maximized and the potential ethical, legal, and social impacts are anticipated, properly understood, and effectively managed. Our work includes technology foresight, the design of research agendas, and exploring governance options at the “edges” where social media often operates — between formal and informal communities, between the market and gift economies, between institutions and networks, and between proprietary and open-source models of ownership.
As part of the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Science and Technology Innovation Program, we support an active public and policy dialogue that can serve as a bridge between the worlds of research, learning, and public affairs. All research results, reports, and the outcomes of our meetings and programs are made broadly available through publications and the Internet. We include a wide variety of domestic and international stakeholders in our work.
The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is the living, national memorial to President Wilson established by Congress in 1968 and headquartered in Washington, D.C. The Center is a non-partisan policy research institute in a world where more and more “think tanks” represent specific ideological perspectives. This “big tent” neutrality allows us to build important bridges among stakeholders across the political spectrum, across key economic sectors, and across international boundaries.
A TRACK RECORD OF LEADERSHIP AND INNOVATION
The Wilson Center’s Science and Technology Innovation Program (STIP) focuses on emerging technologies and the critical choices innovation presents to public policy. Our work ranges from nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and geoengineering to serious games, technology assessment, social media, sensing technologies, and citizen-based science. We work closely with US government agencies, including EPA, NSF, and NIH and have provided input to multiple Congressional Committees, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology (PCAST), the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues, the World Economic Forum, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). We have provided key input to studies by the General Accountability Office (GAO), the National Academies, the UK House of Lords, the UK Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, and the European Group on Ethics. Our data and analyses have been incorporated into hundreds of other studies and research papers carried out by academics, NGOs, government agencies, and think tanks.