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

Flash Mobs for Social Good [UPDATED]

Imagine you are walking down the avenue and suddenly a huge crowd carrying mops and brooms start mopping and sweeping the side walk, picking-up garbage from the floor, and cleaning up gardens and public spaces.

Photo of Pedro Luís
33 19

Written by

Think about an online platform to promote, organize(and maybe sponsor) flash mobs for social good.


Flash mobs for social good


The flash mobs could organized through an online social platform (maybe managed by a non-profit or a governmental organization) where associations, organizations, schools, private companies, etc., could register and organize a flash mob inviting the online community (everybody could register) to join-in. 

This could be a fun and positive way of collectively solve some problems facing our neighbourhoods and local communities, also motivating passive citizens become more active by participating in this kind of events, even if they only participate as a viewer (somebody as to be surprised by the mob).


_____________________________________________________________________

Update / refinement – some ideas to prototype a website/app interface

A) Homepage menu for unregistered visitors:

[1.ABOUT]    [2.BE A GOOD MOBSTER]    [3.CHECK MOBS]

1. About: short description of the app/site explaining the purpose and philosophy behind a flash mob for social good, etc.

2. Be a Good Mobster: registration page for members, with explanation of rules and how everything works.

(Note: I think the name flash mobster is cooler than flash mobber which is the commonly used name for a member of a flash mob.)

3. Check Mobs: page with past mobs videos, photos, forums, social media pages, etc.


B) Homepage for registered users:


[1. JOIN A MOB]   [2.ORGANIZE A MOB]   [3. MOB FILES]   [4.YOUR PROFILE]

1.Join a Mob: page with a list of the upcoming mobs.

On this page the registered mobsters will have access to a list of flash mobs currently open and for each mob a limited description of the mob idea/goals and theme. Certain details of the event will only be accessible after the mobster accepts to join the mob. Some kind of compromise, honor code or non-disclosure agreement will be needed. Also some kind of sanctions if rules are violated have to be in order (which can go from losing mobster points from being banned). To prevent information leaks, to keep the secrecy of the event and most importantly the surprise factor mobsters will know in advance the exact date & hour of the event (in order to be ready for action) but they will only know the exact place 48 hours before it happens.

There will be 3 levels of enrollment: mobster (for those who want to join the mob), mob reporter (for those who love/want to capture history through videos and photos of the event), mob organizer (for those who plan the mob and are responsible to make it happen, a mob should always be organized by a team).

Joining Mobs (meaning actually being there) will give online points to mobsters (with rankings, badges and special honors). To insure a certain level of commitment for the organization/planning of mobs a rule could be applied: only members with a certain level of mobster points will be able to organize mobs. (The first mobs should be organized by the platform sponsors to make it going and some kind of extra credit could be given to invited/special members).


2. Organize a mob: page where a member can post a flash mob idea, plan it, set date and place, describe the goals/themes, stipulate what is needed, etc.

After creating a flash mob profile and posting it, the mob organizer will need the support of the community (meaning: enough people to form the mob). Similar with the concept of crowdfunding where a project needs to raise a certain level of money to be approved, the idea here is that each flash mob will need to reach a certain number of supporters (mobster and mob reporters from the community) willing to join and participate. The support or no support from the community will also work as some kind of evaluation/approval of the flash mob idea being proposed. So the mob organizer will post and decide how many mobsters, mob reporters, and mob co-organizers will be needed to form the mob, and only when sufficient members pledge their support the mob will be approved.


3. Mob Files: page with past mobs videos, photos, reports, comments, etc. Maybe a timeline/calendar of past & future mobs could interesting to organize the info, also some kind of archive with galleries of videos & photos. Some tools to share and spread the word should be also in place. Each flash mob should have a dedicated section managed by the mob organizers and the mob reporters.


4. Your Profile: page to create a personal Good Mobster Profile with elements like name, profile pic, member since date, location, age, gender, etc. There could also be a section to show videos and photos of mobs joined. And a table or graph with the member's Good Mobster Points (inspired in the Design Quotient graph of OpenIDEO), that could be divided in 4 types of points/percentage: Mobster points, Organizer points, Reporter points, Spread the Word points.


Final notes – about the concept of flash mobs for social good:


A flash mob for social good might be a very simple mission or a big production event. Companies and brands might use the platform to organize and sponsor flash mobs, if they agree to keep the focus on social good, even if by doing it they are promoting their brands (example: imagine a crowd of people offering fresh bottles of water on a hot summer day for all the hard working people walking by). Opening the platform to companies and brands might be an interesting way to organize/fund bigger productions and more complex mobs.


Themes & ideas from the comments and some brainstorm appetizers (feel free to post more ideas):- offering flowers to seniors passing by;
- a mob of giant condoms running down the street for a AIDS prevention campaign;
- a crowd of butlers serving soup/sandwiches in poor neighborhoods;
- crowd of people with cameras, photographing and posting online everything that needs to fixed (like a broken fence, a hole on the sidewalk, a destroyed garbage can,...);
- a mob set to build homes, plant trees or urban gardens;
- returning trays at a hawker center;
- a crowd of people thanking the bus drivers/ cleaners/ police;
- youngster mobsters (with school groups);
- inter-generational flash mobs(like some kind of activity for grandparents and their grandchildren);
- etc...

(Note: this includes some ideas from comments that were lost).

How does your concept inspire collaboration between individuals, private sector organisations, and the government in an effort to create cleaner neighbourhoods?

The flash mob for social good concept besides being a great way of inspiring people to do some good actions and contribute in a positive way for their local communities while having fun, is based on collaboration between individuals and all type of organizations, from private or public sectors, that might be interested in participating in such kind of social activities. There's also a public awareness factor in a flash mob that if well conducted might be truly inspiring for local communities, even for those less active citizens that might just get caught by the mob while walking down the street on a regular day.

How might your concept be scaled in a way that creates even more connections between people?

The concept of a flash mob implies connection between people. First there's the connection between people joining the mob and second there's the connection between the mob and all the people out there on the street that will be surprised by it. One idea to scale the concept and create even more connections between people might be to document in film and photos all the flash mobs being organized – there's a big “going viral” potential in flash mobs – in order to post-produce interesting and appealing stuff to spread the message (sharing videos, photographs, blogging, etc.) and inspire others to join.

How might you design a small experiment around your concept that would mobilise action?

Well the only way to experiment this concept is to actually organize a flash mob for social good. An example: The Flash “Mop” What? A flash mop is a flash mob for cleaning-up public spaces, streets, parks, beaches, etc., where an organized crowd of people with mops and brooms join in a public place at a certain date and hour and start picking-up garbage and cleaning up the neighbourhood for a fixed period of time and then like as it started the mob suddenly disappears. How? (using the app/website - see the refinement section above) Set a date and specific hour, spread the word, invite people to join, create a team to document everything, organize and instruct the mob, and have fun on the day. Then start the post-production phase of videos and photos and put it out there to go viral. Final step: start planing the next event, learn with past experiences (if they were successful more will be willing to join on a next-round). Some more flash mob ideas: - a silent flash mob to fight Noise pollution; - a “less me and more we” flash mob that grabs people from the streets to join the mob for instance a tango dancing mob; - a “senior” flash mob, imagine a crowd of grannies starting a Tai Chi session in the central avenue of the city (besides being a nice activity for the elderly to have some fun it's also an opportunity for them to do something different and be more active). (For more ideas see the refinement section above).

Evaluation results

3 evaluations so far

1. How easy would it be for citizens to get involved and take initiative for this idea?

Very easy; this would rely on ground-up participation from the beginning. - 66.7%

Somewhat easy; there are ways for citizens to get involved, but an outside organiser may be needed to sustain and grow this concept. - 33.3%

This concept needs to be led and maintained by the government or private business. - 0%

2. Can you build this concept on top of something that already exists, like an organisation, physical space, or system?

Yes. This could fold into, or extend from, something that already exists. - 33.3%

This concept taps existing networks for a few things, but also needs a lot of new processes, materials, relationships, etc. - 66.7%

This concept requires a new system to be built to support it. - 0%

3. After the initial launch and support, could this concept be sustained and cared for over time by the community it's designed to serve?

Absolutely! This concept is easy to keep going. - 33.3%

It depends. There are opportunities for growth, but it's not yet clear how the concept would thrive after launch. - 66.7%

Probably not. A lot of effort would be needed to keep this concept going. - 0%

4. Does this concept create community?

Yes. It naturally brings people together and inspires them to take care of one another. - 33.3%

There is potential to create a thriving community. - 66.7%

No. It doesn't galvanize people to come together for a common cause or interest. - 0%

5. Overall, how do you feel about this concept?

It rocked my world. - 33.3%

I liked it but preferred others. - 33.3%

It didn't get me overly excited. - 33.3%

33 comments

Join the conversation:

Comment
Photo of Miriam Gubovicova
Team

Hi there!

I can really see this work in a place such as where I live - Bogota, Colombia. The streets are filthy and really education is missing here. However, I believe a Mob Party could show the citizens how to do things right. One idea that crossed my mind would be to organize a Flash Mob after, or better yet during, Sunday's Ciclovia. On Sunday's the local government closes kilometers and kilometers of main roads for people to go out for a run, bike ride or simply a walk with their dog. The amount of plastic cups and bottles simply thrown behind by the people is horrifying. I have a strong faith in humanity and I believe that using such events as a platform would help to carry the idea out throughout the nation. Good luck with everything, great idea!

Photo of Yaowen
Team

Great idea Pedro, well done

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Congrats Pedro! I'll be waiting for my invitation to the first Mob Party!

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

Hi James! Thanks. You'll be on the guest list!

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Great idea Pedro. I love the notion of utilizing marketing based solutions, such as Flash Mobs for the greater good. This concept has an endless amount of possibilities in addition to cleaning, such as building homes, re-building communities and planting trees.

It is a perfect example of "random acts of kindness" on a larger scale.

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

Hi Daniel!
Thanks for your comments and feedback!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Pedro & Team - we're so sorry that we may have lost some of the updates to this concept over the last 72 hours - we lost the AWS server stack which included the backup and even after working through the night some updates escaped us. We have put in place some measures to ensure that this won't happen again.

We've extended the Refinement Phase to the 27th to give everyone extra time to re-upload their content and to push your concept even further - apologies again if you did lose any updates...

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

I've just re-posted all the updates and refinement notes. So no major damage occurred here, only some comments were lost and the page stats have changed (applause and views). Our concept is back on track!

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Pedro I think this is a great way to get things going and drawing attention in a positive and inclusive way.
Some time ago there was some spontaneous dancing at a major junction in the business district in Singapore. That isn't really the kind of thing that happens here. Someone got it on their hand phone and posted it online. Many of the comments were along the lines of "where was I when this was happening?'.
Perhaps it does not need to be a really large group of people? Spontaneity may be as important as the element of surprise. It could also be repeated over some time and in different locations so that it can reach more people and the activity is not seen as a spectacle or a one off event.
Perhaps instead of a ribbon for the participants there could be some kind of branding on the people who were there. As if just being present means you took part. Joining by default. People would want to collect as many stickers or badges increasing the level of interest and awareness. A bit like collecting DQ points.

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

Hi Christine,

Thanks for your comments!
You've made some interesting remarks. I believe that the size of the mob, the secrecy (or not), the schedule, the place, etc., it all really depends on the theme and goals. You can do several regular small events around the city, or you can do like a monthly big event on a central place. All could work. I'm not against badges and stickers, I guess it could work in Singapore, also some kind of DQ points sounds good.

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great builds, guys! Pedro – feel free to update your post at any time to reflect the evolution of your idea via conversations here.

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

Hi Meena! Thanks! I'm working on it! I'll try to post an update as soon as possible (taking in consideration all the feedback and ideas).

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Great stuff Pedro!

Photo of Vishal Jodhani
Team

Absolutely love this concept. There are so many possibilities, so many opportunities to surprise others, and have fun while doing good!

I had made the following comment on another concept (can't find the link anymore): Flash mobs for hawker centres - which I think is more fitting with your concept:
"Great idea - simple yet significant. To refine or rather build on this idea - what if there were regular "good citizen flash mobs". One day could be returning trays at a hawker centre; another day could be everyone giving a flower to a senior person; or thanking the bus drivers/ cleaners/ police; and so on. The original idea is really good and this would just add variety and surprise :-)

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

Hi Vishal! Thanks for your comment! Great ideas for flash mobs!

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Pedro, congrats! Your concept made it to the NEA Challenge Shortlist. We liked the way your idea made community fun AND visible -- and therefore likely scaleable and easy to repeat.

As you start Refinement, think about how you might get the word out and gather people for these events. How would people learn of the event? How would the group agree on what to do, where to go, and where to meet? How would you make a record of what happened? For more tips on how to iterate and prototype your idea during the Refinement phase, read here http://bit.ly/connect-refinetips and check this Lowdown: http://bit.ly/oi_refine

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

Thank you! Also for all the great feedback! Time to refine it and hope everybody can join!

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

This concept is great because it mobilizes people to get together for a shared cause...

The people that you will get to volunteer for a flash mob to clean up a park and doing it for the sake of the cause. How do you incentivize people to participate?

Online badges? +K on klout or Badges on-line. Real world momentos or ribbons to commemorate their hard work? I think that people whom participate in a lot of these great events should be able to wear/display their accomplishments for all to see!

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

Hi Joel!
Thanks for your comment and ideas!

I actually didn't think in how might we incentive/motivate people to participate, but I believe that people who participates in this kind of events are not looking for that kind recognition (like displaying badges or medals... well maybe in some cultures I don't know). Maybe I'm too optimistic, but the simple idea of participating and contributing for a better society or to improve your local environment should be rewarding enough. Inspiration might be the key word here.

Photo of Johan Löfström
Team

my guess is that participating is the only reward that some would need as thank you. You just need to find the first pilot group, and that could be found in theatre school or dance classes, those like to entertain and be a part of a group that creates something together. I guess that was how New Yorks Improveverywhere.com got started, unemployed actors, playwrites and drama students…

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

I think key is to find people who really believe in the cause
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwLkKFn1AWg

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

Hi Maria,
Thanks for your comment (and interesting video).
I agree that finding people who really believe in the cause is key.

Photo of James Robertson
Team

Hi Pedro,

I love the idea, and think that in Singapore there is a mentality that supports this kind of collective grouping together and working on a common issue. The local company I work for sometimes organises weekends where volunteers go and re-paint a run down block of flats, or similar.

Having read your posts below and seen that you'd like to keep faith in people's desire to seek out these kind of opportunites without reward, (and keep some level of secrecy) you may not be over the moon about what I am going to suggest (!), but it might help to grow and spread the idea...

What if NEA were to act as a facilitator and seek out speficic sponsors for specific community actions on pre-arranged dates, and let these sponsors provide a cup of coffee or a sandwich or something similar? (They needn't necessarily be F+B outlets themselves but that would be a good match).

To be honest there is a limit to the number of original ideas you can come up with to keep yourself entertained at the weekends here, and I can see a half day's work with a little bit of free sustenance thrown in, and the chance to meet new people, as being really appealing to most ages, but partcularly families who are concerned to engnender a sense of social responsibility in their children.

The T-shirts and Badges thing could work too..for companies looking to use live events to impact their brand image this could be attractive. Apologies if this is seems like a slight coroporate hi-jack.. I guess it does take some of the romance out of the idea!

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

Hi James,

Thanks very much for your comments and sorry for the late response.
I think the idea could work very well for companies, brands and sponsors, but I actually didn't go in that direction because of the nature of NEA. But I guess it would totally depend on them.

Photo of Jen Ballie
Team

I like the fun factor of this concept. I also like the potential for sharing and demonstration. Alongside the collective joining forces for a shared task this provides a stage for any kind of demonstration. I love the impromptu element of surprise too. I was once in a busy train station when everyone started dancing and it made a lot of people smile :-)

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

Hi Jen! Thanks for your comment!

Photo of Johan Löfström
Team

For the technical App, you might want to look at +U, that OpenPlanetIdeas started a while back : http://www.openideo.com/open/connected/inspiration/u-2014-openplanetideas/ (it is open source code i think)

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

Hi Johan! Thanks for your comment. I'll check it out.

Photo of DeletedUser
Team

DeletedUser

Really cool concept Pedro: but we shouldn't forget that flash mobs are attracting because of their secrecy and because of the surprise they create. You need to be careful about how to create the groups... How to join those flash mobs? Can anyone enter?

The concept is very good, let's now work on the organization a bit more I would say.

But love the ideas of the different themes: would be nice to be able to vote for a new theme for each mob.

Can't wait to see this concept becoming tangible

Photo of Johan Löfström
Team

basically, Paul, it depends entirely on how the flash mob is organized, choreographed and performed. See the video in my concept, on how a flash mob can be inclusive and including as many volunteers as possible to cause great party atmosphere: http://www.openideo.com/open/connected/concepting/mp3-tourism/ (please join the discussion in the comment section on my concept, to develop it further, and I will try to add some of my ideas here)

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

Hi Paul! Thanks!

Yes the secrecy of the events in order to keep the surprise factor might be a problem, but if we think in a metropolis like Singapore where we can see on the streets thousands and thousands of people walking around every day, even if there are hundreds or thousands of people knowing about the flash mob, there will be always other thousands not knowing what is going on. And the secrecy might be secondary, if we accomplish to gather people for a common cause and if the mob gets out to clean the streets (or to make some social good), even if nobody gets surprised by it, there's always a positive outcome.

And I agree that it all depends on the ways the flash mobs are organized. So how might we organize flash mobs for social good?

Photo of Meena Kadri
Team

Lots of great elements here, Pedro! Loving the idea to engage with seniors – and maybe there could be a way of connecting them with younger mobsters (some kind of inter-generational flash mob idea?)

Photo of Pedro Luís
Team

Hi Meena! Thanks for your comment. (And sorry for the late response.)

The idea of young mobsters is great! (I only thought of schools because children always need adult supervision, which can also be solved with some kind of inter-generational flash mobs as you suggested).

I think the possibilities here for different themes and ways of engaging people are awesome.