Try Crowdsourcing: No Surprises on Election Day

It’s no surprise that local governments are utilizing crowdsourcing to solve some of their biggest problems. Crowdsourcing, after all, uses some of the same basic tenets as democracy: where the decisions that serve a body are governed by the majority. Crowdsourcing is being used as a means to allocate budgets, cut waste, and solve longstanding problems.

For example, Huntsville, AL is working on building a comprehensive master plan to serve their municipality. They regularly reach out to the public to ask for feedback on everything from transportation to urban living, and more.

Or how about Oakland County, Mich that used their community to gather ideas for its budgeting process. Oakland County’s deputy county executive and CIO said “If you use crowdsourcing, you put out an idea and you get thousands of opinions. More minds and more ideas make for a better product.”

And while this idea is already often used in the private sector for improving products or enhancing existing voice of the customer programs, it is also being used at the federal level. The President’s SAVE Award and the Department of Energy’s Energy Challenge are prime examples of programs that are now firmly entrenched in government problem solving.

However, there are several overarching qualities that separate a successful project from a flop. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that communities that are non-responsive or fail to actually implement at least some of the suggestions will be seen as ineffectual. This doesn’t mean that you have to deliver on the ideas exactly as they’re submitted (you can develop and refine them further), but you have to communicate about the process as you go so that it’s clear that someone is listening and that some action is being taken.

In a recent poll, IdeaScale asked government leaders what their barrier to launching an open innovation or citizen dialogue might be. Some of the respondents noted that they were concerned about lack of dedicated personnel – which is understandably a concern when numerous government branches are already overworked or understaffed – but our strategy services team reminded us that the work of moderating a community doesn’t always have to be done by you or your stuff. You can get volunteers to work on these communications between campaigns or deputize active (and objective, fair-minded) members of the community to act as leaders on your behalf. Most global crowdsourcing campaigns are only run by one full-time staff member and they continue to be successful.

If you want more tips and tricks about how to deliver successful citizen engagement campaigns (as well as reasons for implementing them, effective case studies, and more), join this complimentarywebinar on Successful Citizen Engagement with Norm Jacknis, Director of Program Development on September 30, 1 p.m. EST.Register today!

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