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Best Practices for Government Crowdsourcing Programs
© Image: Shutterstock / Brandon Bourdages
editorial

Best Practices for Government Crowdsourcing Programs

Crowdsourcing helps communities connect and organize, so it makes sense that governments are increasingly making use of crowd-powered technologies and processes.

Just recently, for instance, we wrote about the Malaysian government’s initiative to crowdsource the national budget. Closer to home, we’ve seen government agencies from U.S. AID to NASA make use of the crowd.

Related:
- Mumbai Local Government Crowdsourcing City Development
- Can Crowdsourced Government Happen in the U.S.?

Daren Brabham, professor at the University of Southern California, recently published a report titled “Using Crowdsourcing In Government” that introduces readers to the basics of crowdsourcing, highlights effective use cases, and establishes best practices when it comes to governments opening up to the crowd. Below, we take a look at a few of the suggestions Brabham makes to those considering crowdsourcing.

Brabham splits up his ten best practices into three phases: planning, implementation, and post-implementation. The first suggestion in the planning phase he makes may be the most critical of all: “Clearly define the problem and solution parameters.” If the community isn’t absolutely clear on what the problem is, the ideas and solutions that users submit will be equally vague and largely useless.

This applies not only to government agencies, but also to SMEs and large enterprises making use of crowdsourcing. At Massolution NYC 2013, for instance, we heard again and again the importance of meticulously defining a problem. And open innovation platform InnoCentive’s CEO Andy Zynga stressed the big role his company plays in helping organizations do away with the “curse of knowledge."

Brabham also has advice for projects in their implementation phase, the key bit being: “Launch a promotional plan and a plan to grow and sustain the community.” Simply put, crowdsourcing cannot work without a crowd, so it’s important to build up the community before launching a campaign. It does take some balance, however, as a community that’s too large by the time a campaign launches can turn off newcomers who “may not feel welcome or may be unsure how to become initiated into the group or taken seriously.”

Brabham’s key advice for the post-implementation phase is: “Assess the project from many angles.” The author suggests tracking website traffic patterns, asking users to volunteer information about themselves when registering, and doing original research through surveys and interviews. The results of follow-up research can help to better understand the responses submitted, and also make it easier to show the successes of the crowdsourcing campaign. This is especially important for organizations partaking in ongoing crowdsourcing efforts.

The entire report, which was published by the IBM Center for The Business of Government, is a worthwhile read; you can access it here.

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