In the 19th century, British scholars convened to compile a comprehensive dictionary of the English language. Rather than catalog the entire language on their own, they turned to the English public to submit definitions and context for each word. After 70 years of editing and compiling and six million submissions, the Oxford English Dictionary was born.
The successes of public-sector crowdsourcing initiatives and advances in technology have caused the public to expect to engage with government on a personal level. Once an organization creates a platform — like turning Geneva's land records into a game or making charitable donations as simple as an SMS — it can harness the crowd's incredible potential. Understanding the different models and uses of crowdsourcing is a key first step for any government agency that wishes to unleash the power of the crowd.