OpenIDEO is an open innovation platform. Join our global community to solve big challenges for social good. Sign Up / Login or Learn more

Action Tokens

Action Tokens bridge local community action with supporters of the unlawfully detained. Although Action Token participants and supporters may be thousands of miles away from each other, participants can still express their concern, and supporters do not have to feel like they are alone.

Photo of DeletedUser
4 3

Written by DeletedUser

Action Tokens bridge local, community action with supporters of the unlawfully detained. Although Action Token participants and supporters may be thousands of miles away from each other, participants can still express their concern, and supporters do not have to feel like they are alone.

Initially distributed by Amnesty International (“AI”), Action Tokens are coined-sized objects with unique identifiers (e.g., serial number), and have just enough information about individual detainees or groups of detainees to pique the interest of each participant who is given one.  Each Action Token is imprinted with a URL (perhaps AI’s) where the participant can find out more information about a person who is unlawfully detained or about a campaign related to unlawful detention.

When a participant visits the target website, he/she can register the Action Token, give general location information (if comfortable disclosing), and specify the action that he/she will take (e.g., donate money, write a letter, sign a petition, etc.). Then the participant is expected to pass the token on to another person to share the message and encourage that person to get involved. As more participants register information related to the Action Token and take action, the total action count, which is prominently displayed on the website, will increase. Additionally, a participant will be able to monitor how the Action Token is traveling throughout their community and perhaps beyond, as well as see a visual mapping of his/her Action Network (i.e., how the Action Token is moving from person-to-person).

Furthermore, supporters of the unlawfully detained will be able to access and receive updates about the statistics related to Action Tokens. They will be able to monitor the movement of tokens throughout communities around the world, as well as the resulting action.

Action Tokens are a way to directly engage people who may otherwise feel removed from the problem of unlawful detention. Tokens and the tracking of their movement and resulting action allow each participant to see how what they do can actually make a difference. Additionally supporters of the unlawfully detained, though never meeting participants face-to-face, will hopefully be encouraged by the knowledge that other people acknowledge the injustice of the unlawful detention and want to help in some way; they will see that they are not alone.

What kind of resources are needed to get this idea off the ground and/or support it over time?

Implementing Action Tokens will require the work of AI staff, members, and the general public. Funds will be required to design and produce the Action Tokens, develop promotional materials, and develop and manage the website page that participants and supporters will use to register and monitor token movement. Hopefully once the initial code is developed the process will be largely automated. Additionally, AI already keeps a running count on their website for particular campaigns’ total actions; perhaps this pre-existing functionality need only be modified a bit more to accommodate Action Tokens.

My Virtual Team

I was inspired by the approaches and idea presentations of the following community members (Thanks!): 1.) Social Network Alarm 2.) The Detainee Support Net 3.) The Connectedness of Co-working 4.) America's Most Wanted Addiitionally, my idea builds upon Amnesty International's existing Actions Taken count functionality found on its website.

How could this idea also be adapted to work in low-tech situations?

Rather than require supporters to visit a website to monitor and gather updates related to Action Tokens, text messages could be sent directly to their mobile phones. Additionally, while it would be ideal for each participant to register their Action Token related activity online, just passing the token from one person to the next, and not breaking the chain, would at least allow the message to continue moving.

Attachments (1)


Action Tokens--Don't break the chain!


Join the conversation:

Photo of DeletedUser


Hi Andrea I think this is a really cool reminded me of the "wheresgeorge" website where people can track $1 bills. I think both physical and virtual tokens are great ways to you mentioned they'll provide some really interesting visualizations on a tracking site as they they travel around. Maybe you could add a "paths to release" feature to highlight successful tokens. It might also be nice to give visitors to the tracking site the ability to support&copy a token to amplify the number of paths. Nice concept!

Photo of DeletedUser


Jason, I had not thought about virtual tokens, but I think that makes a lot of sense. It would be a great way for friends who are not in the same physical location to share the experience of taking action. Also, I can imagine them being dispersed via social media; perhaps a token icon on participants' Facebook pages? I also really like the idea of highlighting tokens that are moving particularly well. Not only would it provide helpful data, but I think it would be a great motivator for participants.

View all comments