Our Top 5 crowdsourcing opportunities for government…what are yours?

As we enter into what we know will be a tremendously exciting perhaps even game-changing year for social media in government, we thought about what were the top 5 crowdsourcing opportunities for the Canadian federal government. Part of the challenge in sorting through just 5 is that we have about 5,000.

(Note for those unfamiliar with crowdsourcing. It can be conducted in a variety of ways. For us, we use a framework for crowdsourcing that is wrapped around a strategic question/objective/opportunity that the participants that respond to and try to collectively and interactively provide answers for.)

Putting on our thinking caps – and crowdsourcing amongst the PV team – we came up with the five below, in no particular order. As important, what’s your top 5 (or top 3 or top 1) for your government?

[email protected] – This seems to be a natural to get the crowd involved. Part of the value of using crowdsourcing in figuring out how/what Canada should do as it turns 150 years old is that you can leverage multiple sets of participants starting with Canadian federal public servants and Canadian citizens.

Fallen Soldiers – This might seem a little political but it seems that – regardless of your politics – a fellow citizen giving up their life for a cause that they believe in and that the country has committed itself to is a sacrifice beyond compare. Asking citizens how fallen soldiers should be honoured would in itself be a tribute to their legacy.

PCO Campaign – This is somewhat subjective on our part since we are now conducting this campaign but the symbolism of having the Privy Council Office, with the Clerk playing an active role as the Campaign Chair, would be and we hope will be significant. Ideally, it will send a positive signal to leaders in other departments that not only is crowdsourcing condoned but that social media in government in general is taking a reasonably good-sized step forward.

H1N1 Follow Up – This might seem a little odd to have this in here after all of the heavy lifting has been done. In fact, we think it is a brilliant and somewhat unique opportunity to reach out to the public to get ideas around both H1N1 and epidemic issues in general. Receiving the collective wisdom of the crowd on this one could probably save lives when responding to future epidemics.

New Recruits – No brainer (for any government jurisdiction IMHO). The Canadian federal government alone hired over 4,000 new recruits from government last year. Tapping into their collective thoughts and insights around what they liked, didn’t like, found inspiring, etc. would be a treasure trove of best practices for the next time (which happens all the time in government.

So, we will stop there. We could list opportunities continuously but what we would love is to hear what you think of these and, more importantly, what your top crowdsourcing opportunity for your department or government is.

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Martha McLean

Hi Geordie,

Very interesting post. I was discussing this with colleagues before the holidays.

Given the GoC’s tightened scrutiny and rules around public opinion research, we were wondering how long it would take before said rules were updated to reflect crowdsourcing. While it can be argued that there are no cost implications, it is public opinion research just the same.

Have you come across any insight on this topic?



I really like #1 and #5. New recruits always have an interesting perspective that one loses over time. First impressions are pretty useful and interesting…

Geordie Adams

Thanks for the comment Martha. Actually, while PoR has come up from time to time, it has never gotten in the way of any of our engagements. The conclusion, including the one being taken by PCO, is that innovation manangement, the interaction associated, and, often, defined participants, removes any direct association with PoR (and this view has generally come from public servants that are more versed in PoR than I am). Hope that helps with any conversations you and team are having on the topic.

Martha McLean

Thanks Geordie!

An interesting perspective from PCO – good to hear and certainly one to which I’ll refer.

Appreciate your input.