Crowdsourcing in the Public Sector

Crowdsourcing in the Public Sector

Daren C. Brabham
Series Editor Beryl A. Radin
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 120
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  • Book Info
    Crowdsourcing in the Public Sector
    Book Description:

    Crowdsourcing is a term that was coined in 2006 to describe how the commercial sector was beginning to outsource problems or tasks to the public through an open call for solutions over the internet or social media. Crowdsourcing works to generate new ideas or develop innovative solutions to problems by drawing on the wisdom of the many rather than the few. US local government experimented with rudimentary crowdsourcing strategies as early as 1989, but in the last few years local, state, and federal government have increasingly turned to crowdsourcing to enhance citizen participation in problem solving, setting priorities, and decision making. While crowdsourcing in the public sector holds much promise and is part of a larger movement toward more citizen participation in democratic government, many challenges, especially legal and ethical issues, need to be addressed to successfully adapt it for use in the public sector.Daren C. Brabham has been at the forefront of the academic study of crowdsourcing.Crowdsourcing in the Public Sector, a new addition to the growing list of Georgetown Digital Shorts, offers both a scholarly introduction to crowdsourcing in the public sector and a practical "how-to" manual. This Digital Short includes extensive interviews with public and private sector managers who have used crowdsourcing. Brabham concludes with a list of the top ten best practices for public managers.

    eISBN: 978-1-62616-222-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Introduction: Crowdsourcing and Public Participation
    (pp. 1-12)

    The city of Santa Monica, California, launched the Public Electronic Network (PEN) in early 1989. PEN was the first online network operated by a city government for use by the public, and the online community at PEN quickly grew to several hundred, and eventually, a few thousand users. PEN was comprised of three components: a database of public notices, hearings, and schedules; a hub for citizens and city officials to exchange e-mails; and a discussion board for citizens to engage in debates about all kinds of issues facing the city. City officials were surprised to see that the last component,...

  6. 1 Crowdsourcing’s Conceptual Foundations
    (pp. 13-20)

    A familiarity with the conceptual foundations of crowdsourcing leads to a more nuanced understanding of how crowdsourcing can work in the public sector and when its use is or is not appropriate. This chapter discusses crowdsourcing’s relationship to democratic ideals and the tradition of engagement activities in the public sector, and how crowdsourcing functions as a problem-solving method that draws from the strengths of large and diverse groups. The related concept of crowdfunding and its future in the public sector is also examined.

    Because crowdsourcing draws input and insight from individuals in online communities, it has the potential to be...

  7. 2 Deciding If and When to Use Crowdsourcing
    (pp. 21-40)

    Many researchers have attempted to develop a grand organizational scheme for understanding crowdsourcing, whether according to functional features, common motivations for participation, or project outcome.¹ And charting the contours of crowdsourcing is surely an academic exercise worthy of continued scholarly debate. But political leaders and public administrators need a practical framework for assessing the appropriateness of crowdsourcing as a possible tool for governance. This chapter proposes a four-part typology and a decision-making scheme for knowing if and when to use crowdsourcing in the public sector.

    Research within the discipline of public administration on government networked coproduction (an umbrella term that...

  8. 3 The Planning Phase
    (pp. 41-49)

    Some of the most important work of any public sector crowdsourcing venture happens early on, before any websites are launched or citizens are sought. A well-designed system will alleviate many headaches later on. The design of the crowdsourcing process entails both technical design of any tools that will be used—apps, websites, wikis, and so on—as well as general planning for the work to be done and the desired outcomes. Policies—including proper conduct that is expected from participants in the process—also serve an important role in facilitating a smooth operation. The subsequent chapters cover some of these...

  9. 4 The Implementation Phase
    (pp. 50-60)

    Once the high-level design considerations have been made, additional planning and design takes place at more of a ground level as a crowdsourcing website—or whatever the tool—is built for the project. This chapter covers the ground-level issues for consideration when implementing a crowdsourcing project, leading up to the launch and management of a crowdsourcing endeavor.

    One of the most surprising findings to emerge in a series of interviews with participants from the Next Stop Design case was that users were drawn to the project because the website was well designed, intuitive, and easy to use.¹ The need for...

  10. 5 The Post-Implementation Phase
    (pp. 61-64)

    All good strategic plans require follow-through, and a crowdsourcing venture is no different. The post-implementation phase of a crowdsourcing venture must do more than just provide closure or give citizens the sense of having completed a task; it must provide the opportunity to gather valuable data from the process and analyze it for future efforts or simply to justify a campaign’s success. This chapter rounds out the list of best practices for public sector crowdsourcing activities.

    As important as knowing what motivates an online community to participate in crowdsourcing projects is the need to make sure those participants’ needs are...

  11. Conclusion: The Future of Crowdsourcing in the Public Sector
    (pp. 65-70)

    Considering the fact that the term did not exist nine years ago, crowdsourcing has enjoyed quite an enthusiastic embrace by government agencies in the United States and abroad. In the United States there have been high-dollar calls for proposals from the departments of the army, navy, and air force; the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA); the National Science Foundation; NASA; the Broadcasting Board of Governors; the Department of the Interior; the Department of Veterans Affairs; and other agencies that specifically use the word “crowdsourcing” in their literature. This demonstrates a level of commitment to continued funding of these innovative...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 71-80)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 81-96)
  14. About the Author
    (pp. 97-98)
  15. Figures and Tables
    (pp. 99-103)